Quick Last-Minute Halloween Costumes From your Own Closet

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Maybe you spent the last of your budget on early Christmas shopping. Maybe your invitation was lost in the mail. It could have been any number of things, but what matters right this very minute is that you're attending a Halloween costume party and you have no costume, no ideas and can't (or refuse to) acquire an expensive, store-bought costume.

There's no need to break out the "This is my costume" tee shirt once again. Some simple, clever costumes are hiding in your very own closet. Use these tips to craft a last-minute character that might even put some of the pricey get-ups to shame.

Look for the following items in your wardrobe:

Suits

Two-piece suits can be a template for several costumes. Pair with an out-of-style tie and use lots of styling gel to be a TV evangelist (you can even paint on sideburns.) Wear an unbuttoned dress shirt (the tackier, the better) and a gold chain to be a lounge lizard. Pair a suit with devil horns (easy to find around Halloween and usually inexpensive) and claim to be an executive from a company you despise --Exxon is an easy target.

Uniforms

Almost everyone has some sort of uniform, or a piece of one, in the back of their closet. Maybe it's a smock from a quickly-abandoned fast food job, or the neckerchief from your scouting days. Dress shirts or jackets with old company emblems are a great find. Pair any of these with simple zombie makeup to be an undead employee, athlete, scout, etc.

Previously-Used Costumes

Re-using a costume doesn't have to be boring if you find a way to breathe new life into it. Got a Grim Reaper robe from a previous party? Black out some teeth and go as Bubba Reaper. Make a masculine costume feminine, or vice versa. If you have several costumes, combine them all and attend your party as The Ghost of Halloweens Past.

Prom Dresses/Dressy Dresses

That ugly bridesmaid dress in the back of the closet is a Halloween jackpot. Fashion a sash from paper or old ribbon and use a black marker to label yourself as a pageant winner appropriate to the dress. An outdated '80s gown might make you Miss Teen USA 1985. Braid your hair and add country-style accessories to become Miss Podunk County Fair. Use your imagination and invent a pageant that suits your personality as well as the dress.

Anything Black

Not only is an all-black outfit in the Halloween spirit on its own, but it also makes for the beginning of several costume ideas. A black turtleneck or sweater with black pants can be a '50s-era beatnik costume. Carry a volume of pretentious poetry for authenticity. With makeup and jewelry, an all-black ensemble becomes a goth uniform, or add a goatee and become Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Or, paint-on whiskers and a makeshift tail for a quick animal costume.

Clothes for Other Purposes

Check your closet for any outfits that don't qualify as regular street clothes and you'll have an instant costume. Ski gear, tropical beachwear, and exercise or dance clothing can all stand in as costumes in a pinch. If all else fails, wear your pajamas, robe and slippers.

Throwaway Clothes

Have some clothing items that have seen better days? You're in luck. With a little shredding, an old pair of jeans and shirt can make you an island castaway. Pair any shredded clothing with pale makeup and become one of the walking dead.

Unusual Pieces

If you're still stumped, look for any single item in your closet that seems unusual. You might come up with a leotard, a top hat, a fur cape, ski boots, a sequin top or a tuxedo jacket, for example. Wear one (or more) of these unusual items and ask attendees to guess who you are. You don't have to have anything in mind at all: someone will eventually come up with a clever guess. Tell them that they are absolutely correct.

Even an attempt at a costume is better than no costume at all. If you're still pressed for ideas, wear a kooky hat, dress all in one color, or be brave and wear a rival sport's teams colors. Halloween is about having fun, so don't be afraid to take a risk. You'll have a Halloween to remember.

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  • Carrie Paxson