These last-minute Halloween costumes are easy to throw together

These Last-Minute Halloween Costumes Include Items You Probably Already Own

Who knew an old sweatshirt could be so versatile?

By Caroline Burke
Originally Published: 
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Archive Photos/Getty Images

With the scariest night of the year just around the corner, it’s crunch time to figure out your Halloween transformation. Halloween can get competitive out there in the real world — not to mention expensive. Luckily, it’s easy enough to put together last-minute Halloween costumes from your closet with just a few key materials.

In addition to saving you money on an expensive Halloween costume you’ll only wear for one night, a homemade costume will also win you points in the creativity department. Making your own costume almost guarantees you’ll have to come up with something totally unique, meaning you won’t have to worry about running into someone who has the same panic-buy costume they snagged earlier that day. (Because let’s face it… we’ve all been that person who has shown up in the same outfit as someone else, and it’s not ideal.)

So, before you freak out and order overnight shipping on a $50 Harley Quinn costume, consider one of these Halloween costume ideas that cost nothing and can be quickly put together from the clothes and accessories you probably already have in your closet. If you have an animal print top, tank top, or black leggings, you'll be set with a costume in no time.

Sandy From Grease
Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

No matter how many times people wear this costume, it never goes out of style. And, because it's so popular, you tend to forget how easy it is to pull off. All you need is a black off-the-shoulder top, black form-fitting pants or leggings, and a pair of red heels. Killer dance moves are suggested, but not mandatory.

The Umbrella Bat

You know that umbrella you've had for years that's useless in the rain? Remove the spokes, cut the fabric in half, and attach one side to your arms or a black hoodie to create a bat effect. Once you throw on an all-black outfit, you're good to go.

Samara From The Ring

It's been almost two decades since Samara last haunted our dreams, so now is the perfect time to dress up as her without getting terrified every time you walk by a mirror. All you really need for this is a white nightgown. If you have a black wig lying around, go for it, but if not, just wet your hair and grease it up with a conditioner to perfect that girl-in-a-well effect.

Minion From Despicable Me

Grab a yellow shirt or sweatshirt, a pair of overalls, and a pair of glasses, and you're officially allowed to run around all night on Halloween spouting gibberish. Plus, this Halloween costume is warm enough to keep you toasty even on a chilly October night.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images

Pay homage to the late trailblazing Supreme Court justice by putting your hair into a low bun, wearing a black outfit with a lacy white collar, and adding a pair of glasses.

Ever Given, The Ship That Blocked The Suez Canal

Bring everybody back to the iconic cargo ship, the Ever Given, that got stuck in the Suez Canal for six days in March 2021 and managed to dam up worldwide shipping and freeze nearly $10 billion in trade a day. Throw on a nautical captain’s hat and write big block letters that read “EVERGREEN” (the name of the shipping company on the side of the ship) on a shirt.

Cat Lady

A cat lady costume transforms one of the the most cliché stereotypes out there into a killer (and very cozy) Halloween costume. Just throw on a robe, grab some stuffed animals, and carry a ball of yarn if you have it.

“404 Error” Message

Don’t feel like making an effort with your costume this year? Poke fun at your lack of effort by adding a “404 error: Costume not found” message to a white shirt with a sharpie.

Party Animal

To repurpose an animal costume from a previous year, turn yourself into a “party animal” by wearing going-out clothes and a party hat along with your animal ears and painted-on whiskers.

Regina George From Mean Girls
Paramount Pictures

Regina George is basically the movie character of the early ‘00s, so dressing up like her will always be a hit at any Halloween party. Cut out two holes in a white tank top, grab a light pink skirt, and tape a print-out of the Burn Book on one of your books. Bonus points for wearing your most colorful bra underneath that tank top.

Last Person On A Zoom Call

Go all-in with the awkward wave, and either buy a shirt that says "Leave Meeting," or write it in with a sharpie on an old T-shirt. Plaster on a nervous smile, and you'll be all set as the last Zoom participant on a call.

Deviled Egg

Recreate a deviled egg by pairing devil horns with a white T-shirt. Cut a yolk-shaped circle out of yellow paper or fabric to tape on it, and add a cute pair of red heels if you’re feeling fancy.

An Emoji

It’s so easy to dress up as an emoji for Halloween, as at least half of them can be DIY’d with your trusted Sharpie-shirt combo. You can also grab a friend to replicate the dancing twins emoji, or strike a dramatic pose for the dancing woman emoji.

A Fifty Shades Of Grey Spoof

Brownie points if you teasingly text your crush that you're being Fifty Shades Of Grey for Halloween and get them all excited — then show up covered in gray paint palettes taped to your top. Make sure to grab a pair of handcuffs to complete the look.

Joel From Risky Business

Just like Sandy from Grease, the Risky Business ensemble is one of the most classic (and easiest) looks to emulate. Throw on a white button-down, some knee-high socks, and a pair of black sunnies, and make sure your party has a hardwood floor that you can slide around on all night.

The Brawny Man

With just a flannel shirt and a roll of paper towels, you can complete what might be the easiest costume ever: a big, burly lumberjack. Now you’re ready to clean up any unexpected messes that may occur at the party.

Baby Yoda From The Mandalorian

Pay homage to The Child from The Mandalorian by wearing a light brown or olive green jacket or bathrobe, putting your hair up into two buns, and if you can, adding a Baby Yoda ear headband, which you can buy online or make at home.

Wednesday Addams From The Addams Family

Wearing a collared dress or shirt will definitely inspire those Wednesday Addams vibes, but really, the only things you need here are a set of braided pigtails, a black outfit of any kind, and a tight-lipped smile.

A Breaking Bad Character

There are a few different ways to go about a Breaking Bad costume. Want to go the super easy route? Put on a pair of white underwear (or long white leggings) and a ripped button-down, à la Walter White in the desert.

Bernie Sanders At President Joe Biden’s 2021 Inauguration

Throw on an oversized khaki jacket, a pair of knit mittens, a teal surgical mask, and sit with your legs and arms crossed at any given time. Boom, you’re the famous Bernie Sanders meme.

Pantone Color Card

Truly, this is a timeless last-minute Halloween costume in your closet already — just don a monochrome outfit in any color of your choice, and print out a mock Pantone label to pin somewhere on clothes. If you want to have it feel more specific to 2021, dress up as the Pantone Colors of the Year: Ultimate Gray and Illuminating, a lemony yellow.

Ice Cream Cone

Snag a white or brown party hat from your local dollar or party store, and decorate it with markers and paint to make it resemble an ice cream cone. From there, you can choose clothes that represent your favorite ice cream flavor — mint chocolate chip, rainbow sprinkles, cookies and cream, you name it.

Disco Ball

Show up to any party as this, and you will instantly light up the room. Buy some reflective jewels from a craft store and stick them on your face and limbs. Pair that with a full silver or black outfit, and finish off the look with metallic lipstick and eyeshadow.

Comic Book Character

If you are even semi-capable at putting on makeup or have a roommate who is, doing up your face in a pop-art style is one of the easiest ways to have an instant Halloween costume. Simply take some black eyeliner and outline some of your facial features as if you’re in a comic book, then pop on a cherry red lip.


Dressing up as Mr. Worldwide — especially in a group of other people doing it too — is instantly hilarious. Put on a bald cap, some dark aviator sunglasses, and a long sleeve button-up with big open lapels.

A Character From Avatar: The Last Airbender

Simply get a bald cap and paint a blue arrow on it if you want to be Aang. To be Appa, the fuzzy flying bison, find an all-white onesie that you can tape cut-out brown paper or paint brown arrows on.


If you have a green dress and shoes in your closet, add fake flowers to your hair and on the dress to transform into a cactus. To create the prickles, you can tape plastic straws or scrunched up paper towels onto your green outfit.

Georgie from It

Poor Georgie — his character may be short-lived in It, but his outfit will forever make an easy costume for Halloween. Throw on a yellow rain poncho and carry around a red balloon in one hand and a folded paper boat in the other. Oh, and keep an eye out for storm drains.

A Staff Member From The White Lotus

Dressing up as a character from the trendy HBO Original series will definitely make you the most pop culture-savvy person in any given room. To be a White Lotus staff member, don a Hawaiian shirt, a pair of khakis, and a name tag — and maybe carry around a fake lei or two to put on people you meet.

The Weeknd From The 2021 Super Bowl Halftime Show
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Recreate the meme of The Weeknd performing “Blinding Lights” by wearing a red blazer, black shirt, and stick-on mustache. Just beware that your friends might ask you to do karaoke at some point during the night.