10 Obscure, DIY Geeky Costumes for Halloween


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Halloween is big business, and it’s no better typified than the huge, seasonal stores that poke up in strip malls and shopping centers across the country during the Autumn. Costumes are now a multi-billion dollar business, and getting that perfect Indiana Jones costume is as simple as walking in to the Scare-o-Rama, selecting your plastic bag complete with hat, whip, and relic, and dropping at least 80 bucks.

But where’s the fun in that? Not to mention the individuality. Geeks should know better. As the purveyors of costuming and re-enactment, it’s up to us to set the bar.

So if you’re stumped, here’s some suggestions for more obscure Halloween costumes. Some of them come from mainstream geekery, but they’re peripheral characters. Because, to me anyway, the best costumes are both well-executed and unusual.

10) Edgar Allan Poe. This is as simple as a trip to the thrift store for a black suit, a bit of black hair spray, some eye liner to put circles under your eyes, and a thin little mustache (that same eye liner will do wonders). If you’re feeling really sassy, go ahead and put a stuffed raven on your shoulder… you know, to make it more obvious. And don’t forget the cravat.

9) The aliens from Earth Girls Are Easy. A cult-classic of the 90s, this costume requires a little in the way of work to get just right. But it worked for Jeff Goldblum, Damon Wayans, and Jim Carrey, it should work for you. You’ll need some spandex, and some fluffy bits (poofs, fur, feathers, whatnot, easily obtained at your local craft store). You’ll also need fabric paint and face paint, in matching colors (depending on your alien of choice). I suppose you could do a less clinging version using a tracksuit or sweat pants/shirt combo, but it’s totally up to you. Top it off with a matching helmet.

8) The Hunter, Duck, and Dog from Duck Hunt – Really, you need the hunter look. Which, like most of these costumes, only requires some thrifty shopping (or going to the Wal-Mart hunting section). Find a stuffed dog and a stuffed duck to accent everything. But what works best is if you carry a vintage gun from the Nintendo system, too, which I’ve also seen many times at second hand stores. It’s the little touches that make all the difference in the world.

7) Karen from Watcher in the Woods. I wrote last week about my paralyzing fear of this film, but the costume is brilliantly easy. A white blindfold, a white dress, a blonde wig. Technically, being a woman is probably best suited—but then again, it’s Halloween, so you can bend the rules however you like. Just wander around with your arms out, searching, and I guarantee you, people will start freaking out.

6) Henry Jones, Sr. Sure, Indiana gets all the credit. But Henry Sr. has everything figured out, in my humble opinion. And because most second hand stores have more grey and beige suits than you can throw a stick at, all this requires is a gray beard (or whitening your own with spray), an appropriate hat, a bowtie, and wire-rim glasses. Some people might guess you’re Sigmund Freud, but you can set ‘em straight. Just make sure no one brings by any rats.

5) Fatty Bolger. Did you know that there was originally a fifth hobbit in the Fellowship? Well, he at last made it to Crickhollow. In my mind, and in spite of Tolkien’s rather lacking description of physical traits, Fatty has the most hobbity look. I mean, his nickname says it all. A vest, a pillow, and a curly wig, coupled with a ham hock or a basket of seedcakes and a flagon, and you’re set. Add some rosy cheeks with rouge and stick out that belly. Be proud!

4) Mon Mothma (Picture on top of the post). You know, Slave Leia gets all the love. But Mon Mothma is one classy, smart lady. Plus, her outfit is essentially lots of draping white cloth and some silver chains, making it one of the easiest costumes to pull off last-minute. Find a Julie Andrews-esque wig, and you are totally set. Lovely, elegant, and powerful. I’d say it’s win-win.

3) Roland from Stephen King’s Dark Tower books. Sure, cowboys are one of the standbys of Halloween costuming. But Roland takes that up a notch, mixes it with your worst nightmares, and spits it out again. Darker, grittier, and more magical, Roland Deschain is just about my favorite gunslinger of all time. Make him super shady—keep the colors darker all around—and maybe add a rose for emphasis. Thankee Sai.

2) Uncle Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender. Why let the kids have all the fun with this one? Personally, I’d love to see a good Uncle costume, complete with big belly, flowing beard, and teapot. Kimonos are a dime a dozen at thrift stores, of you can make one if you are so inclined. Still, wandering around doing your best impression of the late, great Mako, spouting words of advice… yeah, sounds ideal to me.

1) A Mystic from The Dark Crystal. I’m taking a page out of my sunday school nativity play for this one. So, when I was in kindergarden, I got stuck with the part of… the cow. (My petite, blond sister got to be an angel) But my costume consisted of a long cardboard tube with a paper mache cow head on the top, and a lot of draping, black cloth. Use the same principle here, but make a paper mache head of a Mystic. Paper mache is ideal because it can stay lumpy (their skin was really bumby and irregular) . Paint it a pale tan color, cut up an old witch wig (grey or brown preferably) and glue it about. Then go with lots of brown fabric. Add a walking stick. Voila!

Tell us about your more obscure geeky costumes. Do you like to stick out in a crowd? Sound off in the comments!

[Roland Deschain Picture | Edgar Allan Poe | Indy and Henry | Mystic]





14 Responses to 10 Obscure, DIY Geeky Costumes for Halloween

  1. Brown monks robe, old pair of black eyeglass frames, some LEDs, black make up, battery pack and resistors. Mount the LEDs on the frames, put the make up on the black out your face, put on the glasses and switch on the lights. Instant Jawa!

  2. I love that there is another person in this world who has seen Watcher in the Woods!!! I watched that so many times as a kid and it FREAKED ME OUT so bad!!

    This year I'm going as Amy Pond in Vincent and the Doctor. Blue pea coat and red scarf with skirt and grey tights :)

    • Don't get me wrong, this isn't a personal jibe or one against Doctor Who, but if I were to see you walking down the street, I'd figure you were just a redhead wearing current fashions, so you might not get the whole "Cool costume!" thing you were going for..

  3. My friend and I are going as members of HYDRA this year. (The female ones from the FF annual.) Green dress with the yellow H, green boots, green demi-mask…and ray guns! I hope we don't run into a Captain America…

  4. Last year I was Horace Goodspeed from LOST (complete with DHARMA jumpsuit and name tag, hippyish wig, glasses, tie dye T-shirt and ankh necklace)

    In college, I went as Dr. Moreau from the 1996 Frankhenheimer remake (pyramind sun hat with veil, flowing white robes, sunglasses and pancake make-up, and most importantly, the pain controlling electronic medallion necklace).

    Yeah, no one got it, rather asking questions like "So what religion are you supposed to be?"

  5. I am a librarian; so last year, I was Barbara Gordon. I sprayed my hair with red, put it in a bun and wore the twinset with name tag. No one at rural SW MO library got it.

  6. My friend made a red cloak, cut up the bottom, made a red band around her head and wore all black. Two people recognized her as Vincent Valentine, even without the hand. (We didn't really go to many places)

  7. Last year, I went as Lash (the shadow version of Lasciel who inhabited Harry Dresden's head after he buried the coin.) It describes her, once Harry points out that he is NOT going to be swayed by her charms, as being dressed business like. So I wore black slacks, black boots, and a black blazer. I had her sigil (or as close as we could find to her sigil) drawn on my forehead, and my husband (who went dressed as Harry) had it drawn on his palm. No one got it but it was great fun for us. :D