As Halloween creeps closer, some of us run straight to the costume store to pick up some fake gore, fangs or an uncomfortably grown-up version of our favorite childhood Disney princess. But what about us broke college kids who can’t afford overpriced apparel from Spirit Halloween?
While it’s cool to get creative through unconventional materials, pop culture references or puns, beware: many “clever” or “quirky” DIY costumes aren’t worth the time to make or to explain why they’re witty. Costumes in these three categories walk a thin line between clever and cringe-worthy.
1. The “Punny” Costumes
Having a built-in joke for a costume seems like a great idea, right? Instant conversation starter. But let’s be serious: You’re overestimating your sense of humor and your friends’ affinity for wordplay. Pasting boxes of cereal to your torso and holding a fake knife will probably get more glares and raised eyebrows than laughs. And having to say “Get it? I’m a cereal killer!” is going to get old. Then there’s the “One-Night Stand” — not the post-party activity, the costume: a nightstand crafted out of cardboard with some pictures on top for extra oomph, and maybe a lampshade for a hat to top it all off. People will eventually figure out what you’re going for, but by then, your costume may be so un-funny that bystanders wish the blood was real. And yours.
2. The ABC Party Costumes
Using eccentric supplies to make your costume, or wearing “Anything But Clothes,” should be applauded when executed successfully. But these costumes are also easy to take too far. Candy is obviously easy to acquire during Halloween season, and some even choose to use it as part of their costumes. Don some all black clothes, slap a few Starbursts and Hershey bars all over you and voilà! You’re the floor of a movie theater. Your costume will need so many explanations that, by the end of the night, your friends will strip you of your coveted candy and your confidence.
Another candy-centered costume, the “Candy Rapper,” is a blend of the punny and the unconventional materials costumes. A combination of Skittle-studded sunglasses, a snapback and a candy necklace chain completes this costume. There are few redeemable qualities to this one besides the fact that you’ll always have a snack on you. Competing with the already-overdone “Eminems” is also an issue.
3. The Pop Culture Costumes
If you’re really desperate for an idea, you might personify everyone’s favorite social media outlet: Facebook. All you need are blue clothes and a Sharpie to write “Book” on your face. This might have been clever in 2005, but at this point, we’ve all seen it on someone, had that “Ha, I see what you did there” moment and moved on.
Another cheap pop culture costume is “Fifty Shades of Grey.” It doesn’t involve any handcuffs, leather or whips (unless you’re into that sort of thing). All it takes is painting yourself with every gray paint shade Walmart has. People might understand the concept, but let’s put the series to rest, at least before the impending movie. Also, please, don’t be Miley Cyrus. You *can* stop.
As tempting as it is to resort to tired costumes because of their low price, many of the common ones have been done in years past. The key with DIY is originality. By all means, use bizarre materials, pop culture references and maybe even a pun. But come on, try harder.