7 Last-Minute Halloween Costumes for Grownups

ghost family halloween
Photo by Michela Ravasio / Stocksy

By Anna Sachse

We’ve all been there. It’s the day before (or day of!) Halloween and your little firefighter/ballerina/robot is demanding that you dress up, too—and you’ve got nothing to wear. My own children have already let me know that the “I’m-dressed-as-a-tired-mommy” shtick I used last year isn’t going to fly.

Of course, you can always cut a couple eyes in a sheet and call yourself a ghost, but if you’re looking for something a little more special, try these three spooktacular ideas on for size:

Anyone in an ’80s Music Video

I love this costume category, because A) the possibilities are endless and B) you can find a character that matches your existing wardrobe. And if someone doesn’t know what a Robert Palmer Girl is? First gasp (and feel old), and then whip out your phone to make their night by showing them the video. Some of my faves:

  1. For the guys, anyone from Van Halen’s iconic and totally rad “Jump” video. Just put on some running tights and then cut fringe into a couple of old dish towels and tie them around your legs. Cut the sleeves off an old T-shirt and splatter paint on it, add a mesh construction vest to the mix, tie a couple ribbons around your head and arms, and voilà!
  2. One of the bizarre backup singers from Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” video. You likely have most of the necessary pieces in your wardrobe already (black sneakers, white socks, black leggings and a gray overdress) and all that layering should keep you pretty warm during trick-or-treating. All you need to grab at the store is a black mask (or you could just use black face paint) and fuchsia lipstick. Bonus points for carrying a globe.
  3. Robert Palmer Girl circa “Addicted to Love.” You can even get an official tutorial (from the video’s makeup artist) on nailing the iconic shiny red lips and smoky black eye look. The makeup, paired with some seriously slicked-back hair, is really so key that you could probably get away with just that, even if you’re actually wearing a black sweat suit.

Balloon Fruit

Go with a classic.

  1. It’s difficult to imagine a wow-factor costume that’s easier than going as a big bunch of grapes. All you need is a bag of purple or green balloons (ideally 30-40) and enough lung capacity to blow them up—plus some safety pins and either a green hat or some green construction paper. Simply use the pins to attach the blown-up balloons all around a dress, sweatshirt, etc. Make sure they are close together and consider connecting them with double-sided tape so that they don’t blow around in the wind. Put on the green hat or make yourself a leafy headband out of the paper and you’ll look good enough to eat.
  2. We also love this balloon Jelly Belly bag idea.

Cardboard Costumes

  1. What parent isn’t drowning in cardboard boxes? Turn one into something your kid will surely recognize: your beloved iPhone. All you need is a box, aluminum foil, scissors, paint, tape or glue, and access to a printer. Inhabitots has a great tutorial—just size it up for an adult. As an added benefit, when the kids start pleading for more candy, you can tell them you can’t hear what they’re saying due to the poor connection….
  2. Other easy-ish DIY box costume ideas: Legos, a washing machine, a traffic light, a juice box, a Rubiks Cube, a box of popcorn, or boxed wine. (Wine not?) 
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