Last Minute DIY Halloween Costume Ideas (See How I Wore Them)

When asked in the casual office ice breaker, “what is your favorite holiday?”, I always answer Halloween. Cheap milk chocolate everywhere! Monster Mash ring tones awkwardly interrupting team meetings! My attempt to carve a pumpkin! Sexy witches! (I’m sad to say the sexiest outfit I last-minute slapped together was my drag queen outfit in 8th grade…maybe this year I’ll try harder.)

It’s also perfect day of the year to open the craft drawer, head to the thrift store, and DIY, even if done last minute.

In honor of this spooky day, I just spent an hour looking through 10+ years of my Facebook photos to reveal some scary memories of costumes past. I’ve counted down from lazy duds to some fun DIY creations, ranked using 3 factors—sustainability, humor, and creativity. I hope my look back gets you inspired—or at least motivates you to do better than me in 2010—for your last minute costume this year. (Note: I have no clue what I dressed as for in 2012. No photos. Can’t remember. We will pretend this year did not exist for this list.)

10. Girl doing a study abroad program, 2010

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I didn’t dress up. I did go to a cabaret show in Geneva, Switzerland, and celebrated my birthday (which is the day after Halloween).

Sustainability: 4/10 I did wear a secondhand Free People wool tank top.

Creativity: O/10 :-/

Humor:  1/10 The cabaret show was funny?

9. Little Red Riding Hood, 2016

This outfit is easy. Find a red cape or use a blanket and then bring a basket and wear all of your red clothes. I chose American Apparel high-waisted pants I bought 50% off, a secondhand red blouse from Wasteland, and a cape my friend luckily had from a past year.

Sustainability: 3/10 Wasteland, I love you! 

Creativity: 3/10 Nothing too crazy, I wore red.

Humor:  1/10 She almost got eaten by a wolf. No humor here.

8. Alien, 2008

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College. Freshman year. That is my excuse for wearing bike shorts on a Chicago fall night. My best friend Hannah and I cut large sweatshirts, painted our hair silver, and determined this made us aliens.

Sustainability: 3/10 Not a lot of fabric was used?

Creativity: 3/10 I did cut a sweatshirt.

Humor: 3/10 My boyfriend at the time played an FBI agent.

7. Burger, 2015

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Eating meat is not sustainable. Neither was this polyester costume :/. I dressed up as food items with my best friends—Hannah as a banana and Gabrielle as a Hot Dog.

I did think it was funny to then head to In-N-Out Burger and ask for a free burger dressed as a burger—they didn’t think it was.

Sustainability: 2/10 I’m in a newly purchased costume promoting meat eating. :-/ (I have ended up wearing this costume a few more times though.)

Creativity: 3/10 It was cute to be a food group. (Get it?!) 

Humor: 6/10 People did love seeing a burger while eating a burger as horrible as that sounds.

6. Cow, 2007

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I miss these utters. It’s sad I ended up being a meat burger a few years later. (Hi Ally and Jillie.)

Sustainability: 2/10 I have worn the costume a few other times but purchased it new.

Creativity: 3/10 I am going to give high school Carley credit for wearing a baggy jumpsuit and showing minimal skin.

Humor: 7/10 Utters!

5. Slash from Guns N’ Roses, 2014

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I really loved this costume. With just a purchase of a wig I could turn my normal Friday outfit into a funny, comfortable costume. I highly recommend the 80s rockstar look for any lady ( or guy) this Halloween.

Sustainability: 6/10 I wore a vintage shirt purchased at Wasteland, American Apparel pants, and my mom’s old vest. Glasses are used from a thrift store. Wig is new from a costume store.

Creativity: 4/10 To think beyond the straight blonde bob at the costume store and opt for a long perm takes some type of something.

Humor: 8/10 Perm!

4. Winifred Sanderson from Hocus Pocus, 2017


Hannah is back and visited me and Letty last Halloween with this costume in mind. We got lucky at Mission Thrift where I picked up a used witch costume with some perfect Winifred purple. I got lucky again with the nearby Walgreens having orange hair spray.

Sustainability: 8/10 Thank you, Mission Thrift. The hair spray was not all-natural.

Creativity: 5/10 A classic movie and costume, but creatively executed. (There is a water bottle helping to help hold up Letty’s hair.)

Humor: 6/10 It’s a funny movie.

3. Fabulous Grandma, 2011

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My friend Margot and I took ultimate inspiration from my ultimate inspiration—my grandma Genevieve. Thank you grandma for the leopard-print nightgown, flower-patterned robe, curlers, and sunglasses (in my pocket above) you wore after you got your cataract surgery.

Sustainability: 8/10 Thank you, grandma.

Creativity: 5/10 For a last minute costume, it was pretty fabulous.

Humor: 6/10 We stood out at the college town bar.

2. Mermaid, 2009

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I’m proud I included some sewing into this look. I went to the nearest Evanston, Illinois, fabric store and was inspired by the shiny green scale print. I then dyed and glued some shells to a headband, bought a shell bra, and put on an old American Apparel Outlet dress.

Sustainability: 7/10 Sewed my own skirt, crafted my own headband.

Creativity: 9/10 I’m giving myself a high score for spending time with the sewing machine.

Humor: 4/10 Mermaids aren’t too funny. 

1. Heart, 2013


I <3 this costume. :) The heart tube top I made in high school kicked off this look. I then found this pillow at my grandparents’ condo, got heart glasses at The Brown Elephant, and wore an old beanie from H&M. (This is the best photo I can find….)

Sustainability: 7/10 Made some stuff, found others.

Creativity: 8/10 I think I made a pretty fun and happy costume from things found around my apartment and my grandparents’ condo.

Humor: 5/10 Dancing wearing a pillow was the most fun (and safe)! 

Now go through your grandparents’ garage, visit the local garage sale, and have a happy last-minute DIY Halloween.

The 101Carley LakeComment