Ten Halloween Costume Ideas for English Teachers

Another Halloween is practically upon us, and there’s a good chance you’re once again stuck looking for a last-minute costume that won’t require the skill of a Project Runway contestant to design and create. Well, at Prestwick House, we like to think we’ve got you covered for every contingency. So…with all due apologies to those social media sites that give you craft ideas in 5,000 easy steps…here are 10 suggestions for Literary Character Costumes that require no sewing and minimal glue gun use!

If you use any of these ideas, make sure you send in a picture. (Oh…send us a picture even if you don’t use any of our ideas; the point is just for everyone to have fun!)

  1. Got a roll or two of gauze? Sunglasses? Add a hat and a pair of gloves, and voila! You’re The Invisible Man!
  2. Retrieve that old wedding dress in its gold box from the back of your closet. Depending on how long ago you last wore it, you could be Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham. (Don’t have an old wedding dress sitting around? Just drape some dusty, white curtains or bed sheets over your head and around your shoulders.)
  3. Pin a couple of bed sheets or oversized towels together and drape them over your shoulders like a toga. Maybe put a wreath of phony ivy or other greens on your head:
    • Add a pair of sunglasses and some red food coloring dripping from your eyes, and you’re Oedipus.
    • Stick yourself with a couple of fake daggers (you can make them out of cardboard and aluminum foil), liberally apply red food coloring to the “dagger wounds.” Now, you’re Julius Caesar.
    • To create the perfect Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile look, simply adorn yourself with gold and jewels and glue a phony snake to your left breast. (Or your right breast; it doesn’t really matter.
  4. Put on a ratty-old pair of jeans, khakis, or capris. Add a fishing vest (or cut the sleeves off a disgusting, old shirt you don’t want any more). Fishing cap (a baseball cap will do—maybe a straw, sombrero-type hat). Tie a length of rope around your waist and attach a huge fish skeleton you’ve cut out of cardboard. You’re Santiago, the guy from The Old Man and the Sea.
    • Tie a phony bird around your neck instead of the fish skeleton, and you’re Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner.
  5. White pants (sweat pants, jeans, doesn’t matter). White shirt (tee shirt would be good). White apron. Toss some flour on your face and in your hair. Stick a plastic mouse on your shoulder. You’re Charlie from Flowers for Algernon.
  6. Wear the preppiest clothes you got—khaki pants, blue blazer, white oxford cloth shirt, striped or patterned tie. Tie another tie around your waist like a belt. Wrap one of your legs and feet in gauze and hobble around on crutches. Tell everyone you’re Finney from A Separate Peace.
    • If you’d rather be Gene, wear the same thing, but ditch the leg cast and crutches. Maybe put on a pair of the geekiest glasses you can find. Oh…and wear a real belt.
  7. Find the ugliest, most shapeless dress you can find (even better if it’s a size or two too big). Tie on a drab, old apron. Pull your hair back into a tight bun, or simply tie it up in a rag or a kerchief that doesn’t go with anything. Now you’re Ántonia Shimerda from My Ántonia.
  8. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) should be easy enough. Three-piece suit (preferably pin-striped). Tie. Dark-rimmed glasses. Gold pocket watch on a chain (optional.) Maybe gray/whiten your hair at the temples. Leather or vinyl briefcase. You’re ready to plead a case or shoot a mad dog or whatever comes your way.
    • Jeans (bib overalls if you have them). Flannel shirt. Wrap one arm in gauze from your elbow to your wrist. Stick it in a sling. You’re Jem.
    • Jeans (bib overalls if you have them). Flannel shirt. Braid your hair into pigtails and tie them with brown yarn. You’re Scout.
  9. Don a yellow rain slicker and a red fire hat. (If you can’t lay your hands on a real one, those cheap cellophane-type ones they give to school kids for fire prevention week work just fine.) Carry a few books and a cigarette lighter, and you’re Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451.
  10. We’ve stayed away from clichés like Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster, but if you really want to highlight your superior literary knowledge, put on a white lab coat. Maybe gray your hair and spray it all stiff and wild and unruly. Glasses are optional. Maybe one of those round mirror-things doctors used to wear on their foreheads. (You could make this from cardboard and aluminum foil). If anyone asks (as if they won’t all get it right away), tell them you’re Frankenstein. That’s right, Dr. Victor Frankenstein. We never do learn the Creature’s name.

Whatever you come up with, no matter how simple or elaborate, authentic or…(uh)…impressionistic, have fun.

And send us a photo or two.