Halloween outfits on a budget

Written by Saskia Ashton.

Halloween at university is a mass of house parties and themed nights at clubs. This always leads to a rush for a last minute costume, and on a student budget, it can be hard to find a store-bought outfit that fits your needs.

halloween outfit
A simple outfit idea. Photo: Saskia Ashton.
Here are some quick, simple ideas for throwing together a costume from items you’ll probably already have in your wardrobe and a couple of little bits that will cost you next to nothing.


If you’re after something a little bit different, a scarecrow is an unusual but easy idea. All you’ll need is a checked shirt, some baggy jeans, shorts or dungarees and an old straw hat – have a look in a charity shop for any of these items. Simply rip strands of straw from the hat and stick in the sleeves and pockets of your shirt and clip into your own backcombed hair.

For make up, channel the scarecrow from the ‘Wizard of Oz’. When you’re dressed, just rub a bit of brown eye shadow onto your knees to give the impression of mud, and voila, you are one Halloween-worthy scarecrow.

Black cat

Where would a costume party be without at least one black cat? Perhaps the simplest of all outfits, the only thing you really need is black clothes and some eye liner. Draw yourself a nose and some whiskers and add some feline flicks.

As for the ears, you can either settle with shop bought ones which can vary in price or, if you’re feeling crafty, head to The Works. Here, you can buy some card or foam sheets, and cut yourself out some triangles ready to stick onto bobby pins or a headband. As for your actual outfit, there are many routes to go down. You could go all-out kitty in a onesie, keep it sexier in black disco pants or try some black high waisted shorts for a fun, retro twist. Adding little accessories like a black ribbon collar or some claw-style false nails are fun ways to make a standard costume your own.


If you’re looking to terrify this year, the zombie is probably the scariest of all of the cheap and quick ideas. Make sure you have some clothes you don’t mind sacrificing to the Halloween cause, and get scissor happy. Try ripping the arm off of a shirt, or creating a huge tear in the leg of your jeans. Be sure to make more little rips and tears throughout your clothing to achieve a more authentic look.

Fake blood and spray blood are available in shops such as Pound Land, but red food colouring would also be great for splattering your newly altered garments with. Use any brown and purple eye shadow to create mud smudges and bruises, and hollow out your cheeks with a purple eye shadow to create a gaunt effect. Eye liner and lipstick are great for creating the appearance of zombie bites also.


A scary doll is another costume that is very achievable. Perfect for the quirky ones out there, this is the ideal mix of something cute with a spooky edge. The Linc has a tutorial on achieving doll-like make up, so all you’ll need for the costume is a dress and some frilly socks. Most of us have a cute skater dress hidden in our wardrobes and this would be ideal. Another great option is a pinafore with a pastel coloured shirt underneath.

With this costume, you can add some finishing touches to make your outfit look really thought out – try get your hands on a cheap apron, or draw lines on your body in eye liner where a doll would have joints. Throw on some brogues or Mary Jane’s and either curl your hair into spirals or wear two plaits and you’re look is complete.

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