9 Easy DIY Decade Costumes For Halloween In 5 Steps (Or Less)

elvis cyndi michael

Halloween is upon us and I, for one, am thrilled about that. It is my absolute favorite time of year, particularly because of the prep work leading up to it (and the dozens of Halloween-related products I buy because I am a dumb consumer who f’ing loves candy corn socks). Creative costumes are awesome! The only problem with them is how much time they take. Sad face. Sad, busy, cheap face.

So, what’s a girl (or guy) to do when faced with the dilemma of very little time to create an great costume? Figure out a DIY that’s fast! These little instructionals — some by myself, some by wonderful blogs elsewhere — are perfect for anybody who wants to do cool 1920s, 1930s, etc. costumes without sewing a gown themselves or shelling out $250 on renting a perfectly authentic one.

1920s: Flapper

1920s flapper DIY costume

Via Wikipedia Commons.

  1. Snag a long, sleeveless dress. You can find these on sale just about anywhere right now (but especially at places like Marshalls and TJMaxx) because summer just ended. If you can get a beaded one, that will be even better.
  2. Be sure to wear an unpadded bra that doesn’t push up your boobs.
  3. Curl your hair tightly and wrap a sparkly headband around the top, as shown above.
  4. Wear flats.
  5. Apply red lipstick and black eyeshadow.

1930s: Katharine Hepburn

katharine hepburn

  1. Get a crisp white shirt with a collar.
  2. Find loose, straight khaki slacks.
  3. Grab some dark brown or black loafers.
  4. Put your hair in a neat, but not stiff or gelled, ponytail.
  5. Apply just a little mascara, blush and lipstick.

1940s: Rosie the Riveter

what i wore DIY rosie the riveter costume

I am in love with this costume, and it is so, so easy. Plus, you can wear lots of the items after Halloween, making it much more practical in the long run than investing in, say, that neon fishnet dress with sparkly wings. Check out how Jessica Quirk did it over at What I Wore!

1950s: James Dean

Rebel Without A Cause James Dean Costume

At least one of my makeup tutorials will be about this decade, so I’ve decided to instead go with a male icon from the 50s, specifically his look from Rebel Without A Cause. Who says you have to wear a female costume for Halloween?

  1. Wear a plain crew neck white t-shirt.
  2. Put on a red leather jacket (or a windbreaker, because leather is expensive and let’s be honest: anybody who scrutinizes your fabric choice is a pretentious jerk). Be sure to pop the collar up. This is the only time that that instruction will ever be okay.
  3. Wear a pair of loose-fitting jeans and tuck the shirt into them, pairing them with boots that you then roll the jean hems over.
  4. Apply mousse to your hair and tease it upward, then pin it back in a sort of pompadour style and put the rest in a low bun to create the illusion of shorter hair. If you actually have shorter hair, just tease it up and to the side.
  5. Always have a cigarette (fake or real) in your mouth, even if you don’t smoke it at any point, and lean on a lot of walls while looking unhappy.

1960s: Elvis

Elvis_Presley_promoting_Jailhouse_Rock

Via Wikipedia Commons.

Pre-crazy outfit Elvis, because that one would take several more steps, including lots of embellishments which involve glue and stickiness I don’t want to deal with. Let’s just do Jailhouse Rock Elvis, shall we?

  1. Wear a thickly-striped shirt.
  2. Put on dark blue or black jeans with a high waist, preferably with light-colored stitching.
  3. Find a dark blue or black jean jacket and iron four small numbers (such as these) onto the lapel. This will also be pretty convenient for Halloween parties, as you can wear it while walking between them if it’s cold out and just remove this layer when you get warm inside.
  4. Wear shiny black shoes.
  5. Put mousse in your hair and tease it upward, similarly to the James Dean style earlier.

1960s: Twiggy

twiggy DIY

Super chic, super cute and super easy. Suze Geeks Out did an awesome job with this costume and made it really easy for others to follow, so take a look at how she did it!

1970s: Annie Hall

annie hall

Who doesn’t love this classic and totally awesome costume? Check out how CandiMandi found the look!

1980s: Cyndi Lauper

cyndi lauper

…love Maegan somehow managed to do one of the cutest, best Lauper costumes I’ve seen back when she was a kid (with help from her mom, o’course). Check it out here!

1990s: Michael Jordan in Space Jam

space-jam-image

When I was a kid, I thought Michael Jordan was probably the coolest person ever. Actually, I think that today, too. Space Jam was one of the best kids movie of the 90s, thus why it made it on this list.

  1. Get a white jersey and iron on letters spelling out “Jordan” on the back (or a red Bulls jersey with Jordan’s name on it already, if you just wanna make it that easy).
  2. Wear white gym shorts.
  3. Put on a pair of white sneakers.
  4. Either put your hair back in a low bun or wear a latex wigcap. Or, if you’re seriously dedicated, shave your head.
  5. Carry around a bunch of Looney Toons stuffed animals. These are pretty cheap and easy to find on eBay or Amazon.

Just as a reminder: do not do blackface. I don’t know why I need to say this every year, but it seems that blackface still happens so…yeah. Don’t do it, dude.

Click here to see more great Halloween costume ideas!!!

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    • Julia Sonenshein

      Katherine Hepburn YES.