How to do a DIY Halloween costume

UMN design students and Halloween enthusiasts give advice on how to put together a head-turning DIY costume.

How to do a DIY Halloween costume

Image by Sarah Mai

by Victoria Schutz

College students love procrastinating, and Halloween is no exception. A&E reached out to University of Minnesota design students and local Halloween enthusiasts to get some inspiration for last-minute Halloween costumes.

Picking the Character or Idea

Claire Looker, a fourth-year student majoring in theater arts with a focus on costume design, recommends starting the process by looking at what you already have.

“If you’re kind of scrambling and it’s last minute, I think starting from your closet is a great way to do it,” Looker said.

Toni Anthony, a third-year apparel design student, said she usually brainstorms ideas by looking for inspiration in the movies and TV shows she has enjoyed throughout the year.

Anthony also described it as an opportunity to venture out in one’s fashion tastes.

“I take Halloween as an excuse to go out of my comfort zone and just wear something that I would love to wear on a regular basis but just never had the confidence to do,” Anthony said.

Grace Rubas, a third-year graphic design student with an apparel design minor, recommends looking to social media for inspiration.

“I’d look at Pinterest, and you don’t have to limit yourself to searching for Halloween costumes,” Rubas said. “Sometimes I’ll look at fashion and other things in the media. Just think of things that interest you and go from there.”

Figuring out character or idea replication

Sarah McKee, a Minneapolis real-estate agent and self-proclaimed Halloween enthusiast, said social media can be a great source of inspiration.

“Scrolling Instagram, scrolling TikTok, seeing what other people are doing, especially once I already have an idea,” McKee said. “It’s nice to see how other people have executed it and kind of pull together different inspiration from people who’ve done similar things.”

Creating the costume

Mckee said she likes thrifting or using clothing rental services for Halloween costumes.

“I really like to be able to use real clothes rather than pre-bought costumes because they just tend to be cheap-looking and uncomfortable and ill-fitting,” Mckee said. “I’ve used Rent the Runway for several costumes, and obviously, secondhand clothes are really great for this.”

Serita Colette, a Minneapolis-based yoga teacher and business consultant with a love for Halloween costume-making, starts by looking at materials and online tutorials.

“What materials do I have that I can repurpose?” Colette said. “I do like YouTube for easy access. Like, if you want to make a cape, when you type in ‘how to make a cape,’ there’s going to be like 10 different videos.”

Mckee and Collette are pretty crafty in costume creation, using tools like hot glue, fabrics and puff paint, but everyone can choose their own level of effort and difficulty.

“If you want to keep it simple, cool. It doesn’t have to be mind-boggling and difficult,” Colette said.

The less-crafty Halloween costume procrastinators should focus on picking out prominent details of a character to include and worry less about the rest of the costume. Find the most obvious aspect of that costume, then work from there.

“Let yourself be okay with trial and error or making mistakes. I always make mistakes with my Halloween costumes. I see it as an opportunity to learn how to do it differently,” Collette said. “Have fun with it. Halloween is supposed to be a fun time.”