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Last-Minute Halloween Costumes: What's in Your Closet?

Patch has some ideas for creating a great costume with items from your closet or the local thrift shop.

Last-Minute Halloween Costumes: What's in Your Closet? Last-Minute Halloween Costumes: What's in Your Closet? Last-Minute Halloween Costumes: What's in Your Closet?

You haven't had the time to think about a Halloween costume, and now you've got to come up with something—fast. What to do?

Patch spoke with Christine Miller, manager of Warrenton's Agape Hometown Thrift Store and costume mistress/education director for the Living History Company. She shared some tips for making quick costumes from things that might be in your own closet (or your grandmother's), or just down the road at your local thrift store.


Face it, Zombies are in fashion. What's in your closet that you can zombify? A Hawaiian shirt? Make a vacationing Zombie. Any kind of sports uniform? An old prom dress? You get the picture. You can also zombify an old Halloween costume—be creative!

Miller suggests "distressing" the costuming by ripping or unraveling, then dirtying it up (try wadding it up and wiping a dusty car with it). Then lay it out on the ground and splatter with fake blood.

Stores that carry Halloween costumes usually carry makeup, but Miller suggests a quick and handy alternative: acrylic paint. For the fake blood, mix red paint with a little brown, and then water it down. "It has to be fluid for a good splatter," Miller said.


Rip an old sheet into strips for the bandaging, Miller suggests. For the hands, water down some child-safe Elmer's glue and paint it on. Press on pieces of tissue paper, then layer on more glue and then more tissue. As it dries, it will look like decaying flesh.


Do you have a long leather coat or old trench coat? Add a Fedora for a classic spy look. You can create a Get Smart or Inspector Gadget-type character by taking old toys and hot-gluing odd parts together. A coat of gold paint (look for some intended for plastic) gives you some easy but surprisingly effective props you can pin inside your coat or on your hat.

Mad Scientist, Doctor or Butcher

Use an old lab coat or scrubs for the scientist or doctor, or a long apron with a bib for the butcher. Again, you'll want to splatter the clothing with fake blood. For good measure, dip your hands in the fake blood and put handprints on the apron or lab coat. Pull your hands down to smear the blood for a nice, gory effect.


Do you have a short, sleeveless dress? It doesn't take a lot to make a flapper costume. "Add a comb or headband with feathers and some long Mardi Gras beads," Miller said. Add heels, but not stilettos. "Flapper heels were much shorter," she said.

Kids Costumes

"You can't beat sweat pants and sweat shirts for a quick, comfortable costume," Miller said. Paint on stripes or spots to make an animal—bear, cat, dog, zebra. Add ears and a tail from the store or make your own by hot-gluing felt ears to a headband. For a quick and easy tail, sew a line of stitching down the middle of a long sock, then turn it inside-out.

Editor's note: It's a little bit of a drive, but check out the Hometown Thrift Store in Warrenton. Proceeds from the store help fund the Agape food pantry.

(This story originally appeared on Patch in Oct. 2011)

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