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Guest Post: 6 unique Halloween costume ideas

October 12, 2010

How many times have you been a witch or cute cat for Halloween, or spent way too much money at one of those costume shops for a ready-made look? This year, think outside the box, and use the holiday as a chance to get creative! With all the reasonably priced clothing and accessories at Goodwill (and all the things hidden in the depths of your closet), you can easily come up with a one-of-a-kind costume for $10 or less!

For several years, I’ve hosted a Halloween costume party, and I have seen lots of creativity from my thrifty friends. I’d like to share with you a few of my favorites that have come through my decked-out door so that you, too, can get inspired.

  • School Teacher. Put together a fairly frumpy outfit from the racks at Goodwill–a pencil skirt, a blouse with a blah print, and a cardigan. Then make it look like you’ve been seriously taunted by the students: dried gum on the back of your skirt, a “kick me” sign, chalk marks on your clothes, and a paper airplane pinned into your hair. Don’t forget the bun for your ‘do, and be sure and stick a pencil in it, too!
  • Crazy Cat Lady. Grab a drab dress from Goodwill, a grandma cardigan and flesh-colored stockings. If you really want to do it right, go for knee highs rolled down to your ankles. Find a bag big enough to hold your “knitting” (just a ball or two of yarn) and a pair of glasses that you can attach to a piece of yarn around your neck. Scan the toy aisle for a stuffed toy cat to carry with you.


The author, dressed as the Crazy Cat Lady for Halloween.


  • Nascar Fan. This is an easy one to put together rummaging the aisles at Goodwill. Any racing tee will do; just cut off the sleeves and the bottom to show a little belly, and cut off a pair of jeans (acid wash is best!). Then grab a cooler as your accessory, and you’re ready to roll! (If you really want to take this one to the next level, shell out a few extra bucks for a mullet wig.)
  • Tooth Fairy. Find an old bridesmaid dress from Goodwill. Then add some wings (buy them or make them yourself, using floral wire to create a frame), a wand, and some glitter. The spooky finish: make fake teeth out of play dough or Sculpey, and string a few on a piece of yarn for a necklace.
  • Day of the Dead Doll. This is a great choice for Halloween and a different take on the usual spooky costumes. Search through the poofy bridesmaid dresses at Goodwill, and look for one with ruffles and a full skirt. Add some handmade tissue paper flowers (you can find a tutorial online), some black lace over your shoulder, and anything else you think of that will invoke the Mexican altar dolls. For my costume, I painted a flower design onto the dress using some white acrylic paint I had at home. And this costume definitely requires some Halloween make-up–a skeleton face is a must!


The author, dressed as a Day of the Dead Doll, with her friend Amanda, dressed as Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family.


  • Pinnochio. You can create this look with a pair of red shorts and a simple button-up shirt. Search Goodwill for a bowtie, or just make one, yourself, out of some scrap fabric (cut a strip, tie a bow, and safety pin it on). You can also make faux suspenders to match your shorts with strips of scrap fabric; pin these on, as well. If you can find it, add a little cap with a feather (primary colors pull the look off the best). You don’t have to worry about the long nose, as long as you don’t tell a lie!

-Amanda Aileen Fisher


Stop by our Contributors page for more about Amanda, or read her other posts here. And if you’re looking for more costume ideas, check out our Halloween Costume Guide; it’s full of great ideas for creative Halloween costumes!


5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 18, 2010 8:55 am

    That is one impressive day of the dead doll costume! You totally reminded me about the Morticia Addams costume idea. It’s another great solution for someone who doesn’t want to do much but has a black dress and a black wig. Another variation on the black witch costume idea.

  2. Terry Quinn permalink
    October 20, 2010 11:45 am

    I have two friends who also came up with awesome ideas after going through the racks of Goodwill:

    1. Two-Face costume — buy two men’s (or boy’s) suits of different colors and cut them in half, then sew two of the different colored halves back together. With a little face paint (to also make the face two colors), it is a great costume that only requires minor sewing skills (or one could use that iron on tape, I suppose).

    2. Zombie Bride — Purchase a wedding dress and scuff it up (and/or tear it too) to appear that one crawled out of the grave … a little face paint and some dirt smudges and it is a bit too realistic!

    Seeing the Cat Lady idea above also made me think that one could just as easily create Dana Carvey’s The Church Lady.

    • October 20, 2010 1:06 pm

      Love these ideas, Terry! I’ve been seeing a bunch of wedding gowns in our stores lately, too — that would be a really good one to pull together quickly.

      ~Aleigh at Goodwill


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