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Fast and cheap Halloween costumes

We sifted through lots of suggestions on the Web to find you our favorites.

By Karen Datko Oct 27, 2010 11:25AM

Halloween is just days away, and you have not the faintest clue about your costume.


Not to worry, even if you don't have much cash. Lots of blogs have inexpensive suggestions, like "85 easy, frugal Halloween costume ideas" from our partner Wise Bread. If adult and edgy appeals to you, there's Coupon Sherpa's "30 trendy Halloween costume ideas for 2010."


But that's just the start. There's a lot to sift through on the interwebs. Some are throwbacks. (If you showed up in jammies and silk robe, with pipe in hand, how many people would guess "Hugh Hefner"? ) Some are silly. ("Wrap yourself in wrapping paper with a tag: 'From: God, To: Women.' What are you? God's gift to women." We think not.)

Since not everyone can be Lady Gaga -- or can they? -- a hugely popular choice this year, we've identified some of our favorite fast and frugal costumes to help you out.

  • For the classy look, there's Joan from "Mad Men": orange hair done that old-fashioned but sexy way, red lipstick and the rest of the accoutrements. (Need we say more?) Here's a photo to help.
  • We hate to say this, but how about Snooki from "Jersey Shore"? You'll need a very short party dress, very high heels and big jewelry. "If you add lots of bronzer (or slather on the fake tanner -- the more orangey, the better!), put your hair in a poof, and brush up on your Snooki lingo, you'll be good to go," says College Fashion. Remember to fist pump.
  • Can't leave out The Situation. "Cut off the bottom half of a black muscle shirt and draw fake abs with an eyebrow pencil. Wear with a pair of low-rider jeans, a swagger and a sneer ...," says Coupon Sherpa. Remember the fist pump.
  • Rounding out the reality TV theme is Coupon Sherpa's "Housewives of … pick your city": "Dress glamorously but sleazily. Pick arguments with each other all evening and throw drinks, chairs, whatever comes to hand. Making grand entrances, and storming out of every room is de rigueur, darling."
  • Also from TV land is Mr. T -- my personal best years ago. (I won a prize!) All you need is a 'hawk wig and lots of cheap gold jewelry. And growl "I pity the po' fool" a lot.
  • The Dread Pirate Roberts from "The Princess Bride," a suggestion we found at Socyberty: Didn't you just love him? Black clothes, black scarf, black eye mask and little black moustache complete the look.
  • From Real Simple: "Black clothes + yellow electrical tape down his torso + toy cars + Velcro = Highway." (Much better than "A green clown wig + a schoolgirl outfit = Broccoli Spears.")
  • From our pal Squawkfox, a beauty pageant winner: "Wear an old prom dress or bridesmaid gown. Put on lots of makeup. Make a sash. Go as 'Miss' (something silly): 'Miss Congeniality,' 'Miss World Peace,' or 'Miss Can't Hold Her Liquor.' Don't forget to smile, lots."
  • The best of ReadyMade's "11th-hour Halloween getups" is Bubble-Wrap Man. Make use of all that bubble wrap you've saved over the years (can't let it go to waste!) plus packing tape. Leave the nose and mouth area open (and don't try this with little kids).
  • Yet more uses for that most versatile of human creations -- duct tape: According to this Web page, you can be a robot, you can be a prisoner, or you can be a baked potato. (That last requires a healthy amount of aluminum foil.)
  • Even cheaper yet, GeekMom has "10 last-minute Halloween costumes from a paper bag." They're for kids and they're cute.
  • You know the old mummy costume, made with gauze. For the frugal version, Fabulessly Frugal suggests toilet paper. (Warning: Houston Press considers the mummy one of its "Top 10 totally lame last-minute Halloween costumes.")
  • Another from, source of "God's gift to women": "Attach unlit cigarette butts to a hat. What are you? A butt-head." (OK. I thought it was funny.)
  • Let's add a sports figure to this list. The most identifiable is Pittsburgh's magnificent Troy Polamalu (black and gold pulses through my veins). You need a wig of long, curly dark hair, kind of like the wig in the goofy huge-hair photo that accompanied many of the stories about how Troy insured his locks for $1 million. (Reality check: During my pet-sitting days, I bought $1 million of insurance for my business and it cost $225 a year.)  

Cheap alternative to the wig: Tape black yarn or curled black ribbon to the inside of a football helmet or a stocking cap so it hangs out the back, and decorate the headgear with a paper cutout of the Steelers' logo. If you don't have a Steelers jersey or other gear, stick another one on a black shirt.

What's your best cheap costume idea for Halloween?


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