If you’re anything like me, the idea of spending your hard-earned cash on a cheesy (yet expensive!) Halloween costume that you’re going to wear once, probably spill wine on, and inevitably chuck the next day is disheartening, considering that dough could be put toward something meaningful—you know, like shoes. Or the Erdem x H&M collaboration. Or shoes from the Erdem x H&M collaboration! Another thing that would make you like me is being not-so-great at planning ahead and therefore finding yourself frantically rummaging through your closet two hours before the start of whatever Halloween party you committed to attending, searching for something—anything!—that could pass for a legitimate costume. But do not fear, my kindred spirit: Here are eight costumes you can create from things you probably already own. And thanks to their lasting pop cultural relevance, no one will ever suspect you didn’t plan them months ago, like seemingly everyone else in the world.
Photo: Touchstone Pictures
Margot Tenenbaum from The Royal Tenenbaums
This costume is a lazy girl classic. It’s both instantly recognizable (the hallmark of a good costume, if you ask me) and eternally chic. All you need is a long, brown fur or faux fur coat (this one from ASOS would do the trick), a striped cotton dress, a girlish hair clip (try your nearest drug store), and loafers. Oh, and plenty of eyeliner. Bonus points for a Birkin bag, a cigarette, and a sour expression. Boom! Instant ennui.
Photo: 2014 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Remember when Beyonce rocked this? (As seen at top of post.) Well, if you’ve got a long floral dress (or you need an excuse to buy one from Reformation), a flower crown, statement earrings, a chunky gold necklace, and a whole lot of eyebrow pencil, you can too. And it’s probably the only time in your life you’ll get to match Queen Bey, so live it up. Remember, the most important part of this costume is the unibrow and the braided, floral-embellished updo, so don’t slouch in the beauty department.
Cher Horowitz or Dionne Davenport from Clueless
Got a plaid miniskirt, kneesocks, and a blazer? You’re good to go as either Dionne or Cher. Slip a white tee and a shrunken cardigan underneath your jacket (major bonus points if it matches your mini), and find a big, obnoxious hat if you’re doing Dionne. Just glue a red flower and a black ribbon to that wide brim straw hat you bought at J. Crew this summer if it comes down to it. Seriously, this costume could not be easier.
Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction
It doesn’t get any easier than Uma Thurman’s Pulp Fiction character when it comes to stylish silver screen women to imitate. The only requirements are an oversized white button down (steal one from your boyfriend if need be), cropped black trousers (this pair from Gap would be perfect), and a little bit of cleavage. Red lips and a black wig with bangs top off the look, and while Mia is yet another character who smokes, you can always just hold the thing as a prop all night. Oh, also? Emily Ratajkowski rocked this costume once, so you know it’s good.
Sandy from Grease
I know, I know, it’s obvious. But if you’re really in a pinch, there’s no way you can’t track down a leather jacket, tight black pants, and red heels, right? Right. You can probably also find a little black top (preferably off-the-shoulder, like this one) and a waist-cinching black belt. Red lips and big, teased, hair-sprayed curls are also a must. Now, start practicing “tell me about it, stud” while keeping a straight face.
Say what you will about Carrie (and I’ve said a lot), but she’s a truly iconic character who seems like she’d be extremely fun to embody for a night. Luckily, you (or someone you) know probably have a tutu from some music festival or Halloween of yesteryear buried deep in the recesses of your closet, which means the only other necessities are a ribbed tank and designer sandals. Don’t own any Manolos? Well, we did say we’d rather spend money on shoes than costumes, and seems like the rare way to actually do both.
Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians
I know she’s supposed to be a villain, but Cruella de Vil was always my favorite Disney character. Instead of getting into what that says about me, let’s just talk about the costume, shall we? This time, you’ll need a white or spotted faux fur, which is, admittedly, less easy to come by than a brown one, but apparently, even Hollister sells these kinds of things now. So, maybe not? Then, it’s just a black cocktail dress, red gloves, a cigarette holder, and a terrified-looking stuffed puppy for good measure.
’90s Gwen Stefani
This one’s for anyone who grew up listening to No Doubt and crying about mean boys while idolizing Gwen’s punky, over-the-top red carpet fashion. Find a blue bikini top, pair it with baggy black pants and combat boots, and then focus on the beauty aspect of this look, because that’s where things get interesting. In lieu of actually dying your hair blue, pick up some temporary spray dye. It’ll make your hair kind of crunchy, but Gwen’s hair looks kind of crunchy here, so whatever. Then pull the front into space buns, glue some gems around your eyebrows (skip the culturally appropriative bindi dot, though), and get ready to rock.