DIY Halloween costumes for college students

I know what you’re thinking—it’s September! It’s not time to start thinking about Halloween yet! Well, that depends on whether or not you want to be the star of every Halloween party on campus. (Or, frankly, whether you want to avoid waiting until the last minute to throw something together.) Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I’ve always looked forward to throwing together weird craft supplies and accessories to create something new and cool that’s reminiscent of my favorite characters.

In college, Halloween costumes shouldn’t set back your budget, and there are a lot of fun DIY Halloween costume options that don’t take a lot of money or time. Here are some ideas for college students on getting ready for the upcoming holiday.

DIY Halloween costume of Queen Amidala

With Star Wars back in the spotlight, there might be a bunch of Rey, Finn or Poe costumes around (which, granted, could be really cool). This year I’m putting together a genderbent Han Solo, so I’m certainly in favor of embracing the franchise! I created one of my best costumes in college with an old dress, a borrowed cummerbund, some nylons, some Styrofoam eggs, black fabric and an old earring: Queen Amidala (or her bodyguard) from The Phantom Menace. It’s not an exact replica, but it was certainly recognizable, and I spent next to nothing building it. If you want to go retro with some Queen Amidala duds, here’s how I put mine together.

1. Start with a dress you already own or can borrow from a friend. I had a vintage 70s black dress with a V-neck and some decoration already on it that worked perfectly (and had the advantage of fitting).

2. Create a head wrapping. I used some black fabric; I think it was remnants with bad edging, even, that I’d found in one of the campus trade boxes. A scarf would work, too. Just pick something that both matches the dress and can be tucked around to hide all your hair.

3. Make some bubbles. Amidala tends to have those weird bubbles on her dresses: I bought four Styrofoam eggs from a craft store, some metallic gold paint and a box of ball-tipped-pins all for less than $10. I cut the eggs in half so they’d be easy to pin to the dress, then painted them one morning before work study and let them dry all day in my room with the window open (late September weather was perfect for that, and I didn’t stink out my roommate!). Once they were dry, because they were so thick, all I had to do was push the pins straight through my dress and into the eggs and they stayed. Very easy! The head-piece was harder, and I had a friend help attach the eggs after I already had the fabric wrapped around my head.

4. Add the final touches and makeup. I used some old black nylons to give myself long sleeves, a cummerbund to change the shape of the waist on the dress, an old earring to dangle from my head piece and a pair of black boots to finish the outfit. I used white face paint on my neck and face, some very very red lipstick in Amidala’s signature lip pattern and white nail polish to finish the look. Voila! Vintage Star Wars chic!

Other Halloween costume ideas

Some of my other favorite DIY costumes have included:

  • Iron Man in progress. A friend of mine used a tank top and some round tap lights from Ikea (you can get a two pack at Bed Bath & Beyond for $7) to make a Tony Stark costume as he’s starting to build his new Iron Man suit. I don’t recall how the chest light and hand lights got secured, but the end look was fantastic.
  • Death of Dream from Sandman. Have any Goth clothes in your closet? I went as Death from the Sandman several years running because my costume was so comfortable: black pants and top, black jacket, top hat (mine was felt that I’d gotten at a Halloween party) and an ankh necklace. Dream is likewise pretty simple: all black (can be billowing robes, can be a t-shirt and black jeans) with some attention to the hair and makeup.
  • Marty McFly from Back to the Future has very thrift-store friendly duds (jeans, jeans jacket, button down shirt, puffy down vest), as does Alex DeLarge of A Clockwork Orange (white top, white pants, black boots, suspenders).

What are your favorite DIY costumes? Tell us in the comments.

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