Go Back to Basics With These Traditional and Classic Halloween Costume Ideas

A timeless and classic Halloween costume will never go out of style. Pop-culture-inspired costumes can be fun, but they often require buying new stuff, and some years, it feels like everyone is dressing up as the same celebrity or character (hi, Barbie!). On the other hand, punny costumes can be a hit at parties, but explaining the joke can get old. So if you want to keep it simple this Halloween, opt for a classic Halloween costume that'll make your life easier and still feel super festive.

When you think about Oct. 31, classic Halloween characters like witches, ghosts, and monsters likely come to mind, and that's because they're the basis for the most traditional and iconic costumes of all. Not only can you use clothes and accessories you may already have to create these outfits, but you can also make these traditional Halloween costumes as simple or as creative as you please.

Whether you want to give everyone a fright or you just appreciate the timeless appeal of a classic costume, one of these old-school costume ideas will fit perfectly. From spellbinding witches to chic black cats, these easy DIY costumes can be made in minutes — no magic needed. Check out the best traditional Halloween costumes ahead, and get excited for a night of classic Halloween fun.

Additional reporting by Lauren Harano and Lauren Mazzo


Classic Halloween Costume: Pumpkin

Pair orange clothing — whether that's a dress, a tutu, an oversize T-shirt, or leggings and a top — with a green hair accessory, and you turn into the most iconic symbol of Halloween: a pumpkin. If you're feeling artsy, turn your face into a jack-o'-lantern using Halloween makeup, too.


Classic Halloween Costume: Ghost

Yes, a classic Halloween costume can be as simple as tossing a white sheet over your head. Make it a sexy ghost by adding heels and fishnets.


Classic Halloween Costume: Frankenstein's Monster

Frankenstein's monster is one of those classic Halloween costumes you can pull off with just a face of makeup. Draw on face stitches and give yourself a greenish glow, then don all black for an easy Frankenstein costume.


Classic Halloween Costume: Clown

Clowns are a classic Halloween character, though they can range from innocent and joyous to terrifying. Keep it simple with some clown-style lipstick, a hat, and a neck ruffle, or go full Pennywise from "It."


Classic Halloween Costume: Werewolf

If you have a wolf cut, this is the classic Halloween costume for you. Wolf-inspired makeup, tousled hair, earth-tone clothes, and fur accessories (or a coat, if it's cold) turn you into this iconic monster.


Classic Halloween Costume: Witch

The witch is such a classic Halloween character, chances are, you've already dressed as one at least once in your life. That doesn't mean this costume is boring, though. Dig up your witch hat, then use your current favorite black clothes and accessories to turn yourself into a modern-day spell-caster.


Classic Halloween Costume: Skeleton

If you can get your hands on a skeleton onesie, you're all set for this classic Halloween costume. Otherwise, you can rely on makeup (plus all-black clothing) to give you the skeleton look.


Classic Halloween Costume: Black Cat

Whether you're channeling Salem from "Sabrina" or Thackery Binx from "Hocus Pocus" or you just want an excuse to dress simple and/or sexy for Halloween, this classic costume comes to the rescue. To be a cat, all you really need are ears and an all-black ensemble.


Classic Halloween Costume: Devil

With a red dress and devil horns, you can assume the classic role of the devil this Halloween. If it's chilly outside, just add leather.


Classic Halloween Costume: Vampire

There are countless ways to dress as a classic vampire this Halloween, though you'll need either fake fangs, fake blood, or a really good cape to pull it off.


Classic Halloween Costume: Zombie

If fake blood is your jam, then your ideal classic Halloween costume might just be a zombie. Whether you want to be a cordyceps-covered one like from "The Last of Us" or something more abstract, you can't go wrong with fake wounds and blood, deathly makeup, and dirty or torn clothes.


Classic Halloween Costume: Mummy

A timeless Halloween costume that requires no more than a roll of toilet paper? The humble mummy, of course. To make your costume a bit more durable, opt for white clothing and medical gauze instead.


Classic Halloween Costume: Wicked Witch of the West

The most classic witch of all, the Wicked Witch of the West allows you to reuse that old black hat while giving you an excuse to play with some seriously impressive Halloween makeup.


Classic Halloween Costume: Spider

Spiders are a classic symbol of Halloween, though it's not always easy to dress like one. You could create an elaborate eight-legged costume using pool noodles or the like, or simply paint on some spiderweb-inspired makeup and attach some decorative spiders to your jewelry or clothes.


Classic Halloween Costume: Angel

Go solo as an angel, or tag-team with a friend to go as the angel and devil. Either way, it's a classic Halloween costume everyone will recognize at a glance.


Classic Halloween Costume: Bunny

If either "Mean Girls" or "Legally Blonde" was the movie of your adolescence, the image of Regina George and/or Elle Woods dressed as a bunny for Halloween is surely burned into your memory. This classic costume comes together using just a pair of bunny ears.


Classic Halloween Costume: Alien

Just want an excuse to wear space buns? Be an alien for Halloween. Collect all your most otherworldly pieces of clothing and accessories, and slather on as much glitter as possible.


Classic Halloween Costume: Pirate

Grab a billowing white shirt, a red or black jacket, and gold jewelry from your closet, then get your hands on a pointy pirate hat and hook hand, and watch your pirate costume come to life.


Classic Halloween Costume: Disney Princess

If you opt for sweet over scary on Halloween, you can't go wrong with a Disney princess costume. Even better, it's the perfect excuse to rewear one of your old prom dresses or bridesmaid gowns.


Classic Halloween Costume: Bat

Get crafty creating a pair of bat wings — OK, or just buy some on Amazon — and you have an easy way to create the classic Halloween bat costume.


Classic Halloween Costume: Scarecrow

If your favorite part of fall is heading to a pumpkin patch, displaying fresh sunflowers, or picking apples, go for the classic Halloween costume of a scarecrow. With a flannel top or denim overalls, some easy makeup, and a straw hat, you're golden.