Brew up frightening fashion in a fix

Cheap, crafty costumes for the time crunched

By Jessica Hester

As students, we know that the U of C can be a scary place—we’re haunted by exams, spooked by papers, and terrified of lab reports. School can be chilling every day, and by the time midterms roll around, many of us probably feel that we’ve had our fair share of horror. If you’ve spent more hours hunched over an econ problem set than hunting for a costume, it might be tempting to forgo the freaky festivities this weekend. Still, you shouldn’t let your lack of a costume stop you from having some fun this Halloween. Here are some last-minute costume tips for both the DIY-types and savvy shoppers.

Third-year Emily Graber merged craft and kitsch into one cute costume. Influenced by the adorable animal hats she saw at trendy children’s boutiques in Wicker Park, Graber designed a homemade owl costume. She made textured wings by affixing two different colors of paper towels to a cut-up paper grocery bag. Cut into triangles, the strips of paper flutter like actual feathers, and their slightly matted appearance resembles molting. Graber paired the wings with an adorable hat she crocheted herself, complete with ears, eyes, and a beak to create a critter that is terrifyingly cute.

Graber offered tips for crafting easy, creative homemade costumes. The key is to be ambitious, but within reason. “Think about what resources you already have,” she suggested. Graber designed her costume around the crocheted hat she had been working on and completed the look with brown and tan clothes already hanging in her closet. While creativity is great, sometimes great ideas can be too elaborate to actually make by hand. “Google ideas for handmade costumes, just to see what’s in the realm of possibility,” Graber recommended. If you’re not into gore, think of ideas that are more cuddly than chilling. Graber suggested looking at Halloween costumes made for little kids—like pumpkins, dinosaurs, and other animals—and trying to think of ways they could be adapted for a bigger body.

Sonia Hinson, Maroon news contributor and third-year in the College, is also a fan of homemade Halloween costumes, but discovered that she didn’t have time to make one this year. Instead, she hit the Internet to find a quick, easy, budget-friendly option. Her “Dark Fairy” costume, which she scored for $17.99 on, puts a macabre twist on the conventional, frilly fairy outfit. Hinson paired the dress, wings, wand, and glittery shoulder pads with Converse sneakers and ripped tights for a fashion-forward look that capitalizes on current high-fashion trends, like '80s glam rock.

Hinson also offered some helpful hints for finding a pre-made costume right before the witching hour. “If you already know what kind of costume you’re looking for, use Google Shopping to search for it,” she suggested. The Google Shopping feature lets shoppers sort by price and store, making it easy to track down something very specific. If you don’t want to splurge on overnight shipping, hit one-stop-costume shops like Ragstock (812 West Belmont Avenue). This vintage emporium sells lots of individual costume pieces, from poofy prom dresses to authentic hippie gear, as well as fully packaged costumes, like sexy policewoman outfits, all at very reasonable prices. Shoppers can easily leave with a head-to-toe ensemble that won’t break the bank.

You might still be shaking from midterms, but there’s still time to throw together a costume and go have some Halloween fun. Whether you plan to curl up with a bag of candy and watch Hocus Pocus or get scared to tears at Navy Fear, it’s not too late to make or buy a cute, creative costume. Have a safe and stylish Halloween!