5 Easy & Sustainable Halloween Costume Ideas

Oct 6, 2020
Aimee Thompson

I t's that time of year when the smell of PSLs fills the air, and we're all feeling a twinge basic witchy. If, like us, you love a good excuse to dress up,  but want to ensure you’re choosing ethical and sustainable options, then you’ve come to the right place! 

Because Halloween is highly commercialized, there’s pressure to buy a new costume that’s on-trend any given year. This can make it difficult to choose something unique and in-line with how you want to represent yourself. Not to mention, they’re typically made from hastily sewn non-sustainable materials that fall apart during (or shortly after) the first use. That being said, we know how tough it can be to resist the urge to quickly purchase a ready-to-wear, cheaply priced costume for one night rather than spending time figuring out a sustainable option. But, have no fear (maybe a little; it is Halloween, afterall), we’ve compiled a list of 5 sustainable costume ideas to help give you the creative spark you need to knock the socks off this Hallows Eve.

-1- Tweak An Old Costume
Woman dressed as a witch in black dress and hat
Photo credit: Tom Leishman

Have costumes from previous years? The most sustainable costume option is utilizing or upcycling what you already have and repurposing it for other costumes or even future outfits. This is an opportunity to get creative and brainstorm ways you can combine, tweak, or update former costumes to create something truly unique. Some of our favorite ideas are:

Character mashups:  If you dressed like a comic book, action, movie, etc. characters in the past, this is your opportunity to create the crossover character mash-up of your dreams! Also, think about what a cool story you’ll have when asked, “What are you dressed as?” Maybe it’s time to find out what it would look like for a certain famous cheerleading vampire slayer to mashup with a badass, chakram-wielding warrior princess…

Same character, new direction: Anyone can dress as a historical figure, fictional character, or fantastical being. This year, put a new spin on an old favorite! Did you dress as a beloved mermaid last year? Maybe this year, you’re the same mermaid, but you made better choices (i.e. didn’t sell your voice to a sea witch, graduated from The University of the Pacific Ocean, and went on to become a prominent aquatic surgeon)--actually, maybe I’ll take this one…

-2- Shop Your Closet, Home, & Garden
Black Clothes on Chair
Photo Credit: Polina Tankilevitch

Similar to updating/tweaking an old costume, creating one from items you already own is also your most sustainable option (and most underrated, in our opinion). You may feel pressured to choose something people are familiar with and will recognize right away--we strongly disagree with that. Halloween is an opportunity for you to have fun and dress up however you want. It’s okay if you aren’t interested in making yourself look like an action hero, fairytale creature, or well-known character. You can build something specific to your taste by shopping your own closet, and we’re completely here for it! Need a couple of ideas?

Alter-ego: Have you ever imagined an alternate version of yourself? Are they the complete opposite of your personality type? Think about how they dress, wear their hair, do their makeup, etc. Use your closet to come up with a look you love! For some added inspiration, check out how our founder, Janelle Wavell-Jimenez, repurposed a dress she already owned to dress up as her alter egos, an evil queen one year and modern Little Red Riding Hood the next:

An Experience: If you’re looking for something entirely unique to you, consider dressing up as a meaningful experience. This is a fun way to illustrate a key milestone you’ve overcome, a beautiful memory from a favorite place, a moment that defined the next chapter in your life, etc. Go through your closet, boxes of souvenirs, and pictures and choose items that bring together an experience you want to represent (i.e. the first relay race you won -- old uniform, the medal/ribbon you received, and a red sash to represent the finish line).

Note: If you’re feeling extra crafty (see what we did there?), give yourself an even greater creative challenge by incorporating items and/or materials from around your home and/or in your garden! Is that a curtain rod or did Gandalf just get a staff upgrade? Here are a couple of ideas from beyond your wardrobe:

What’s in the garden? If you’re considering going the Midsommar route this Halloween, step outside and see what’s growing around you. Flowers and foliage can be used to make lovely headpieces as well as tied, pinned, sewn, etc. onto parts of your outfit or props! Need some inspiration, check out this stunning look created by

Old bedsheets & children’s toys: Here’s what you’ll want to do, grab a pair of scissors and proceed to cut two circular holes for your eyes--Kidding! We can do better than that! Sheets can be easily transformed into dresses or togas using a little rope (a cord, string, hefty ribbon, etc.), and, if you wanna get extra mythological (and have a child who collects creepy crawly toys), bring your favorite Gorgon to life by adding some toy snakes to your hair! I’ve also seen this done with a little foil and a headband and it looked great!

-3- Follow The #30WearsChallenge
Misty from Pokemon Cosplay
Photo Credit: Elias Andres-Jose

The #30WearsChallenge is a campaign encouraging consumers to opt for pieces they’ll wear at least 30 times. How does this relate to Halloween costumes you ask? Once you decide on how you want to dress up, the next step is shopping sustainable retailers for items that transcend your costume and will become permanent staples of your wardrobe. This means asking yourself whether you can commit to wearing that piece at least 30 times, and whether the quality of the item itself will hold up for 30 wears. But, what does this look like? We’re glad you asked! Here are two ideas to get you started:

Misty from Pokemon: To achieve this look, all you need are red suspenders, a side ponytail,  yellow crop top, cuffed denim shorts and red sneakers. Remember, you can adapt the costume to fit with your comfortability and personal style. If you know you’ll never use red suspenders again, you could repurpose red gift ribbons instead. Not a fan of crop tops? It’s okay to opt for a tank top instead.

Riverdale (any character): Bring your favorite Riverdale character to life following the 30 Wears guidelines. One of our favorite things about this costume idea is how dynamic the cast’s style is. This makes it much easier to go with an option that enables you to pick pieces you’ll want to wear again and again. For example, if you decide you want to dress as Jughead, you could wear a jean, leather, or flannel jacket with a grey beanie, dark t-shirt, blue jeans and black boots. 

Remember: The most important thing is opting for clothes you’ll want to wear at least 30 times.

-4- Create A Costume Using Items From Second-Hand Stores

Second-hand stores are another great sustainable option for finding pieces to build a killer costume (many also have gently-used, ready to wear options available). In addition, the pieces you buy are often higher quality and can be repurposed into your regular closet rotation as well as future costumes! One of our favorite things about costumes built from actual clothing is that they tend to look more realistic--you are the character as opposed to being a representation of the character. They also leave more room for you to add personal customizations. Here a couple of examples:

Gender-bender or non-gender conforming Character: If you’ve always wanted to dress as the female or an androgynous version of your favorite Middle Earth Wizard, now’s your chance! You can also opt to represent them in modern-day garb (if hard-pressed to find more traditional looking pieces). Don’t be afraid to think outside of the jack-o-lantern and get really creative.

Casual superhero: Rather than dress as your favorite superhero in uniform, try dressing as the off-duty version! This is a fun way to make your costume stand out to true fans, and it also gives you more freedom to add bits of personal flair. Is your hero a businessman/woman by day? Scan online second-hand stores or your local thrift shops for professional attire: blazers, button-ups and dress pants (preferably options you’d want to incorporate as staples of your wardrobe in the future!).

-5- Spooky (Or Not) Makeover
Woman with clown makeup
Photo Credit: Dollar Gill

If, like many of us this 2020, your Halloween will be spent on video calls (and you’d prefer to be in PJs from the neck down), playing with makeup is an excellent way to be in costume without compromising comfort. Opt for eco-friendly and sustainable makeup brands with products you’ll want to use for future events. There are also many safe and easy DIY face paint recipes and tutorials online if you want to kick it up a notch! Need some ideas to get you started?

Blast from the Past...or, Future: How different would your hair and makeup be if you were living in a different decade? Now’s your chance to find out! Fan of the 60s? Do a simple beehive doo accompanied by retro makeup (think Audrey Hepburn in Two For The  Road)! If you need some makeup tips, we recommend TrinaDuhra’s simple 1960s makeup tutorial!  Or, opt for a more futuristic representation and style your hair and makeup to represent what you imagine the trend will be 100 years from now.

Embrace the Dark Side: Isn’t Halloween supposed to be scary? Pick your favorite villain (think movies, video games, comic books, etc.), and style your hair and makeup accordingly. Not sure where to start? There are phenomenal tutorials, like the one below by Alyson Tabbitha and  In a matter of minutes (or hours depending on the level of your skills), you’ll have all the knowledge you need to conquer that video chat and leave your friends quaking on their sofas *cackles evilly.*

Alright, now that we’ve exhausted you with brilliant ideas 😉, we’ll let you take it from here! We hope you found our ideas inspiring and feel more encouraged as you come up with your sustainable costume this Halloween!

We’d love to see your sustainable costumes! Please tag us in your photos and include #StellariStyle For a chance to be highlighted on our IG Story!

Stellari Team Costumes
Stellari Content Manager dressed as mia wallace
Aimee - Mia
Janelle as Evil Queen
Janelle - Evil Queen
Joe dressed as a donut
Jo - Donut Time
. . . You May Also Enjoy . . .

Related Stories