Halloween Costumes on a Student Budget

Today is that awkward moment when you realize that you only have a week left to come up with a Halloween costume. Don’t worry, you’re a student and procrastinating is completely normal. The real problem here is that you may be lacking extra cash that is necessary to pull off a great costume. Fear not fellow students! You can still make this year’s Halloween one of your best Ryerson memories yet.

First of all, a costume is a must if you want to have a great Halloween, and if you’ve been to one of the seasonal stores you will notice that pre-made costumes are freaking expensive! Plus if you buy a store-bought costume you risk showing up at a club or party in the same costume as someone else.

Secondly, I cannot write a blog about Halloween costumes without quoting Cady Herron from Mean Girls, who rightfully taught us that “Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.”

Which brings me to this: Whether you’re going for scary, a costume that lets out your creativity, or you just want to prance around in your underwear for all to see (remember nobody’s judging)

Here are some easy do-it-yourself costume ideas that won’t break the bank.

Time warp into a past decade

Polo shirts and preppy blouses (or leather jacket, white tee and jeans) for 50s. Flowery shirts, tie die and peace signs for 60s. Bell bottoms, big sunglasses and bright colours for 70s. Spandex, leggings, headbands and wide-neck or off the shoulder shirts for the 80s. Bright oversized t-shirts tucked in, track suits and lots of denim for the 90s.

Pop culture, TV and Movies

Search your closet. Almost ANYTHING can be turned into a costume idea. One of the best costumes I’ve ever seen was the two fitness gurus from those body break commercials, Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod. All they did was find two 90s style track suits and glued the body break logo onto the front.

Other easy ideas:

Mary Poppins: Knee-length black skirt and a white blouse. Black leggings. Red bow tie, red belt. White gloves and a black umbrella.

Charlie Brown: Perfect for anyone who needs a last-minute idea. Find a yellow t-shirt and tape or colour black zig-zags around the shirt. Throw on a pair of black shorts or pants.

Old Spice Commercial: Guys this one is super easy. Wear your boxers, and throw a bath towel around your waist. Carry around a bottle of old spice body wash. Flex your pecks for all the ladies!

Tom Cruse from Risky Business: Might be a little overdone but still an easy idea. White button-up dress shirt, calf-high tube socks, boxers and black sunglasses. Slide across the floor everywhere you go.

Classic Ideas

Ghost: The most simple and least original idea (though I’ve never actually seen anyone pull this off.) Find a white sheet and drape it over your head. Cut out two holes for eyes so you can see. Nobody will be asking what your costume is supposed to be.

Nerd: Wear a button-up shirt and fill the front pocket with lots of pens. Wear any pants and roll up the bottom to make them too short. Tuck them into a pair of white socks. Slap on a pair of suspenders. Slick your hair back. For the final touch, get a pair of thick-rimmed glasses and wrap a piece of tape around the nose.

Mime: Wear all black clothes with white gloves. Paint your face white, your lips and around your eyes black. Pretend you’re stuck in a box and stay silent for the entire night.

Old Woman: All you need to do is find an old lady dress from a thrift store that would put your grandmother to shame. Tie your hair back and wear wire framed glasses at the base of your nose. Walk around with a cane and offer all your friends Werther Originals.

Toga! Wear your bra and undies. Grab a white sheet and wrap it around your body. Tell everyone you just left the Animal House party.

Out of  the Ordinary

Out of Work NHL player Wear an NHL jersey (any team will do). Carry around a hockey stick and an empty starbucks cup (to collect spare change). Tape a cardboard sign to your back detailing your problems such as “Will slap shot for food.”

The “Jesus Saves Guy” from Dundas Square Wear a black toque and dress crazy. Carry a bible and microphone. Scream at everyone you see by asking if they’ve found Jesus.

Paper Bag Princess from the Robert Munsch Book: Head to Canadian Tire and buy one of those oversized paper bags used for stuffing leaves into. Cut out arm holes and throw it over normal clothes. Wear a tiara.

The Hunger Games: Find an old Hungry, Hungry Hippo board game, place it on a string and wear it around your neck.

Six pack of beer: Find five of your friends and everyone buys a roll of duct tape. Wrap your body in duct tape (not your arms, just your chest to mid-thigh) and print out the label of your favourite beer. Tape it onto the front and back, and onto a hat. Just don’t lose your friends because nobody likes it when a beer goes missing.


I hope these ideas got you thinking about a great costume that hopefully won’t burn a hole in your pocket!

Got a creative and affordable costume idea? Share it with us below.

Happy Halloween Ryerson!