Simple Halloween Costumes You Can DIY With A Denim Jacket

Most people either own or want to own a denim jacket, and fall is the perfect time to wear one, especially for Halloween. It's always annoying to plan a whole costume only to then be foiled by cold weather and need outerwear that spoils the look. One way to avoid that possible letdown is to just build your Halloween ensemble around a jacket in the first place. 

Denim jackets are perfect for a late-night visit to a haunted house, a trick-or-treating excursion, an indoor party, a busy bar, or pretty much any other Halloween-themed scenario. So, if you're more of a comfort-first costume person, or are trying to stay budget-friendly, this versatile item — that is likely already in your closet — is the perfect starting point for your spooky ensemble. Here are a few easy and recognizable costume options for anyone looking to utilize a beloved denim jacket this Halloween. (And stay tuned for an honorable mention.)

Denim Canadian tuxedo: Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears

In an unforgettable pop culture moment, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake arrived at the 2001 American Music Awards in corresponding "Canadian tuxedo" denim outfits. Their looks have been recreated by both Halloween partygoers and late '90s and early aughts fashion enthusiasts alike, and have stood the test of time for the last 20 years (via People). "We were in New Orleans when Britney and Justin were like, 'We're doing matching denim,'" designer Steven Gerstein told Jezebel. "It's so funny, I sometimes forget that I did it, and forget that it is so iconic." 

Recreating their look doesn't have to be as difficult as it may seem, as we imagine finding a blue jean ball gown is probably next to impossible. Instead, to channel Britney, you can swap out the dress for a long denim skirt (or a pair of fitted flare jeans) and a bustier top. Then, to keep you comfortable in the October chill, add any jacket of your choice. As long as it's denim, it's on theme.

Justin is basically the same. If you have a denim suit jacket, by all means, wear it, but you can also definitely get close enough to the look with a regular denim jacket and a cowboy hat. Of course, go all out if you want, but DIY-ing does kind of imply that you make do with what you have, and hopefully have fun in the process.

'80's-inspired denim: Stranger Things

You can be just about any character from the popular Netflix series "Stranger Things" if you have a denim jacket in your closet. The character Billy was a hit during "Stranger Things 2," garnering some well-deserved fan love with that bouncy mullet and bad boy attitude. To pull off his look, you only need three pieces: a white shirt, jeans, and a denim jacket. See the full look in all its glory on Instagram.

In season 4 of the series, Nancy and Robin won everyone over with their growing friendship (via Twitter). And the pair would make a great buddy costume this year. To be Nancy, all you'll need is the jacket plus a collared blouse and a light-colored midi skirt. For Robin, grab a denim bomber, dark sweater, and plaid pants.

Another season 4 favorite was Eddie, and his outfit is easy to recreate (via Instagram). Don't worry if you don't want to cut the arms off your denim jacket to turn it into a vest, it will mimic the look just fine once you add black ripped jeans, a graphic tee, and some sneakers.

'70s-inspired denim: That '70s Show

If you're a fan of "That '70s Show," Steven Hyde and Donna Pinciotti are two simple and comfortable choices for anyone looking for costume inspiration. While the entire cast certainly wears denim throughout the show, Hyde and Donna come to mind first when thinking about jean-jacket-centered outfits.

For Donna, the costume can include a bandana, middle-parted hair, a '70s-style blouse, a turtleneck, or a fitted striped sweater (via Pinterest). Add a denim jacket, and you're all set. The character doesn't often wear any extravagant makeup either, so it won't take you too long to get ready, and you won't have to labor over an eyeshadow look you've never tried.

Hyde is even easier. Just throw on any less-than-perfect condition band t-shirt — Led Zeppelin is a favorite of his — a pair of jeans or flared era-appropriate trousers, aviators, and the jean jacket already in your hand, and step out into the Halloween night (via Pinterest). Also, dressing as Hyde means you get to wear sunglasses all night. Very cool of you.

Punk-inspired denim: Vampires

Create a rough-around-the-edges blood-sucking vampire look by drawing from more steampunk-inspired, grungey, gothic examples. It's a different take on the traditional Victorian option and easier than the "should I make my skin sparkly?" quandary associated with imitating the "Twilight" movies. 

Start by checking out the 2000 family-friendly horror comedy "The Little Vampire" which follows 9-year-old Tony as he and his parents move from California to Scotland. Tony meets Gregory, a rebellious young vampire who rocks an acid-wash gothic jacket with a yellow and black striped waistcoat, punk spikey hair, fingerless gloves, and a healthy dose of black eye makeup (via Pinterest). You don't have to dress exactly like Gregory, but he's a great inspiration for a roughed-up vampire costume.

To revisit an actual vampire, "The Magicians" includes a Hot Topic-esque blood-sucking creature that may help you create a full alternative vampire look around your denim jacket (via The Magicians Wiki). Also adhering to the spikey hair look, this version of a vampire is basically just wearing regular dark-colored clothes. Throw on a denim jacket, use eyeshadow to accentuate your dark circles, add blood to the corners of your mouth, and bam: Halloween vampire.

Denim on the job: Rosie the Riveter

What began as a government campaign to place more women in the workforce during World War II is now a super easy costume to throw together for Halloween. Fun fact: of the 18 million women in the wartime workforce between 1942 and 1945, around six million were actually new (via The Atlantic). Rosie the Riveter is one of the most recognizable images featuring a denim jacket. Take one photo in her red polka-dot bandana and signature pose and your night will be free of outfit explanation — truly a treat. 

The iconic We Can Do It! poster was created by a man named J. Howard Miller, an artist hired to concoct the inspirational graphic for Westinghouse Electric Corp (via The Washington Post). It hung for a mere two weeks, and only in the business helmet-liner factory halls, but still became a beacon for WWII perseverance. The poster resurfaced during the '70s and '80s as a landmark image of the feminist movement. Geraldine Doyle, the woman on the poster, was apparently unaware of her status as a symbol of women's employment. According to The Atlantic, Doyle didn't even discover the image until the 1980s.

Now, every October, we see "Rosies" traipsing through city streets and waiting in lines at bars, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, and going to school. She's everywhere, that Rosie, and always in her signature denim jacket.

'90s-inspired denim: Sister, Sister

The '90s sitcom "Sister, Sister," starring twins Tia and Tamera Mowry, serves as great costume inspiration for friends as it features an array of cozy and adorable outfits to try this Halloween. The series follows a pair of twins who, after being separated at birth, become reunited in their teenage years. 

When planning your costume, picture the classic '90s uniform of grunge-inspired oversized denim jackets, baggy jeans and shorts, and plaid, plaid, plaid (via Pinterest). Because the characters are twins, they also frequently rock matching tights and boots. If you have a similar hair texture to the actresses, keep your super curly hair hydrated, before topping it with a bucket hat. Reds and earth tones also seem to be the favorite color schemes of the sisters, so if your closet is currently full of these particular hues, you'll be ready to trick-or-treat in no time. The final touch is to ask a friend to match with you to bring your DIY outfit to life.

Denim looks inspired by Goosebumps

1990s Canadian children's horror series "Goosebumps" is full of denim-clad characters. If you haven't seen the anthology-style show on Netflix, it's based on R.L. Stine's book series of the same name and each episode follows a new kid, family, or friend group for another frightening adventure. 

Episode "A Night in Terror Tower" finds siblings Eddie and Sue sightseeing on a family vacation in London. Time travel, England, and an identity crisis await them — in a denim jacket! Sue wears jeans, a jean jacket of a similar wash, and a plaid top layer for the duration of the episode. Simple and comfortable.

Another denim-forward "Goosebumps" option is featured in the episode "Welcome to the Dead House." Amanda and Josh just begrudgingly moved to Dark Falls, a very aptly named town complete with creepy residents and a shocking neighborhood secret. While navigating their eerie new home, both Josh and Amanda break out their denim jackets. Amanda wears a light wash denim jacket, pink and blue top, and a pair of colorful patchwork jeans, while Josh's outfit consists of a typical '90s denim layer, gray t-shirt, and tapered loose-fitting pants.

Ken doll denim: Ryan Gosling

"Barbie" movie promos show actor Ryan Gosling in a light blue denim cutoff vest with frayed edges and a matching pair of jeans (via Twitter). That's it. Easily copied, easily recognized. It's not a new idea to dress as Ken or Barbie for Halloween, but Greta Gerwig's super simple Ken costume is a fun option for anyone either not afraid of the cold, or living in a warmer climate. 

Another Ryan Gosling denim look is his character Greg from the "Goosebumps" episode, "Say Cheese and Die." Usually wearing some combination of either baggy khaki pants or '90s-style jeans, a flannel tee, and a denim jacket, the star also carries around a Polaroid camera. Throw this outfit together from pieces in your closet, run up to your friends, and declare, "Say Cheese and Die!" and then explain to them that Ryan Gosling is, in fact, in an episode of "Goosebumps."

Denim overalls: Mia Goth

This may be a jean jacket costume list, but there must be an honorable mention for denim overalls. And what better choice for Halloween than a pair of recently released slasher films: "X" and "Pearl."

First came "X" (via IMDb). This film follows a late-'70s pornography film crew to a rickety guest house on a remote Texas farm. When an unlikely killer lurks around their set, what is supposed to be a quick, low-budget X-rated movie-making getaway becomes a gruesome scramble to survive. Meanwhile, "Pearl" is a bloody, classic cinema-style sequel that stars the original movie's scene-stealer, Mia Goth. "Pearl" features the killer's twisted backstory, taking viewers back to 1918, the influenza pandemic, and World War I (via IMDb). The titular character, also played by Mia Goth, desperately wants to be a movie star. But with her father paralyzed and her mother intent on controlling her, the aspiring young actress resorts to other more gruesome pastimes.

In each movie, Mia Goth wears a pair of denim overalls. As an adult film star in "X," she sports overall shorts and no discernable top, her hair down and a bit of blue eyeshadow on the lids. Her character in "Pearl" mirrors this look, wearing long overalls, a faded blue bandana, pigtails, and a light blue top with buttons down the front. So, if you want to be a Mia Goth character for Halloween, you can choose to either dress as the killer or a plucky potential victim. Take your pick.