42 Clever and Creative Halloween Costume Ideas For 2023

Image source: Getty | Johner Images / Stephen Zeigler
Photo Illustration: Michelle Alfonso
Image source: Getty | Johner Images / Stephen Zeigler
Photo Illustration: Michelle Alfonso
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One of the reasons Halloween is so beloved is because it lets us think differently. The creative Halloween costumes people manage to think up never fail to amaze us. Some of the coolest outfits are DIY Halloween costumes that reference a joke or pop culture event in a really clever way. But there are also store-bought costumes that do the work for you and still deserve to win the award for most creative Halloween costume at any party.

If you're looking for an original Halloween costume, we have 42 ideas to inspire you. These creative Halloween costumes run the gamut from pop culture references (we'll be honest, there's more than one "Barbie" costume on this list) to always-funny puns, and they include cool Halloween costumes you can buy or DIY, as well as creative Halloween costume ideas for solo trick-or-treaters or people in need of group costumes. Let the list spark your own creativity, or use it as inspiration for one or more of your own unique Halloween costumes (you can dress up all month long, right?). We're sure you'll find a scary-good and creative Halloween costume idea that'll have all your friends in awe or laughing out loud all night long.

Additional reporting by Lauren Harano, Naomi Parris, and Mirel Zaman


Creative Halloween Costumes: Edna Mode

Fashion designer Edna is the most underrated character in "The Incredibles," and dressing up in her trademark A-line black dress, giant specs, and severe bob cut will give you a costume that definitely won't be overlooked.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Devil Wears Prada

Rather than doing a straightforward take on "The Devil Wears Prada," go for a cheeky play on the name of the movie by wearing devilish makeup and some Prada merch (or just write "Prada" on a white T-shirt — same diff).


Creative Halloween Costumes: Miss Universe

Use anything from a little black dress to a trash bag for your universe, and decorate it with an array of colorful planets (with bonus points for scientific accuracy). The final touch is a tiara and pageant sash.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Violet Crawley

Violet Crawley from "Downton Abbey" is the queen of sass. Take inspiration from her this Halloween and deck yourself out with one of the Dowager Countess's wild hats and signature ensembles. Don't forget your cup of tea!


Creative Halloween Costumes: Heather Chandler

"Heathers" is an '80s cult classic, and you can channel the Heathers' leader with some argyle, plaid, and a croquet mallet.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Morton Salt Girl

If you're looking for a costume that's simple and sweet, grab a yellow dress and an umbrella to become Morton Salt's iconic label (but please don't blame us if you get bad luck for opening an umbrella indoors).


Creative Halloween Costumes: Debbie Thornberry

The petulant teenager of "The Wild Thornberrys" is easy to take on with ripped jeans, a cropped orange tank, and lots of snark.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Barbie and Ken

We're leaning heavily into the "Barbie" love this year. Go classic by DIY-ing a Barbie box (and a Ken box, too, if you're doing a twofer costume), and dress in your Barbie best.


Creative Halloween Costumes: A Shrimp on the Barbie

Cute, creative, and super appropriate for 2023, the year of "Barbie," dressing up as a shrimp on the "barbie" will win you applause for the rest of the year. Find a Barbie shirt or make your own, and keep your eyes peeled for a shrimp hat.


Creative Halloween Costumes: ZomBeyoncé

There's only one Queen Bey, but anyone can be a Zombie Beyoncé. Channel your favorite Beyoncé look, then use your makeup skills to transform yourself into a member of the undead.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Reverse Cowgirl

Have a cowgirl costume from years prior? Slip the "reverse" card out of your Uno deck and you have a flirty, creative new costume for this Halloween.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Comic-Book Woman

A little makeup goes a long way with this comic-book-inspired look. Keep your outfit simple and focus on your face.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Bud Lightyear

Go to infinity and beyond this Halloween when you dress up as Bud Lightyear. You'll need to wear a Bud Light shirt and tape Buzz's wings to your back. Cheers to a good "Toy Story" reference!


Creative Halloween Costumes: Chip on Your Shoulder

Grab a cute top, your favorite chips, and a little tape, and you're easily transformed into "Chip on Your Shoulder." Easy, funny, and creative, right?


Creative Halloween Costumes: Smart Cookie

You'll get an A+ for this creative costume idea! Just wear a cap and gown, and carry around a box of your favorite cookies. Done and done.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Royal-Tee

This costume is fit for a queen. Simply write the word "royal" on a white T-shirt, and you're good to go. You can complete your look with a small tiara and jewels if you really want to make it come to life.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Pumpkin Pi

Feeling sweet this Halloween? Dress up as pumpkin pi. (Not a typo.) Wear an orange shirt with a jack-o'-lantern face on it, and tape the pi logo onto your shirt. Math people will love it. Bonus points if you carry around a pie all night, giving out free slices to everyone who laughs.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Party Animals

We love this easy and comfy costume. Just wear a party hat with any kind of animal shirt or costume you have lying around the house, and you're done. You can make it more complicated, but really — why bother?


Creative Halloween Costumes: French Kiss

A french kiss doesn't have to involve lots of PDA. Style this costume with a black-and-white striped shirt, a beret, and bright red lipstick. Throw in a baguette for a tasty prop.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Old Fart

You can definitely make this yourself if you're crafty, or you can snag a Whoopie Cushion Costume ($38). You could stop there, but the addition of some good makeup, a gray wig, and glasses take it to the next level.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Taco Belle

Channel "Beauty and the Beast" with this adorable costume, but rather than carrying around books, you'll be toting a Quesarito, chips and dip, and (of course) tacos instead.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Deviled Egg

Everyone will get a laugh out of this creative costume. Just draw a little yellow circle onto a white shirt and put on a pair of devil horns. Then, let this costume win Halloween!


Creative Halloween Costumes: Bowl of Cereal

This creative costume gives you the option of being any cereal you'd like. Cut open the bottom of a large bucket, attach straps, and adorn the front with the logo of your favorite cereal. For this Froot Loops costume, slices of pool noodles were used to make the actual cereal bits — so clever.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Cereal Killer
Image source: Getty | Johner Images / Stephen Zeigler
Photo Illustration: Michelle Alfonso

Creative Halloween Costumes: Cereal Killer

Tape mini cereal boxes to a shirt or dress, and cover yourself in fake blood. Use a knife as a prop to really make this costume scary.


Creative Halloween Costumes: French Toast

No foreign language or culinary skills are required for this sweet and simple costume. You can go for a huge cardboard "toast" or just carry around some toasted bread to accompany your beret and striped shirt.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Ceiling Fan

Channel your high school days and grab some pom-poms for this easy-peasy getup. Simply draw "go, ceiling, go!" on your T-shirt.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Travel Bug

Remember the summer, when it seemed like the entire world was going on a European vacation? Channel that energy and go as a travel bug. All you need is a map skirt (DIY it by taping maps to any skirt) and butterfly wings (buy them, unless you're crafty). You can snag this pair of butterfly wings ($10, originally $13) on Amazon.


Creative Halloween Costumes: When Life Gives You Lemons . . .

You make lemonade! Be the bright spot this Halloween with a shirt that says "life" and a bag of lemons.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Vincent van Gogh

This one works as a solo costume (just dress up as the artist, ear bandage mandatory). But it also works as a couple's costume, with the second person dressing up as one of van Gogh's iconic paintings — like "Sunflower" or "Starry Night." The paint-stroke shirts are the clever touch that really brings it all together.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Roller Blade Barbie

Creative Halloween Costumes: Roller Blade Barbie

This Malibu Barbie Rollerblading One-Piece ($56) is the perfect base for your Roller Blade Barbie outfit: just add bright pink bike shorts, neon yellow pads, and Rollerblades (you can buy the ones in the movie here). Or, if you're playing it safe (are Rollerblades the best idea on Halloween?), you can opt for a neon sneaker instead, like the Nike Pegasus 40 ($130), which come in a highlighter-yellow "volt" colorway.


Creative Halloween Costumes: "Ted Lasso"

The "Ted Lasso" fandom is still going strong, and there are so many great characters to dress as, from Ted himself (mustache and "Believe" sign mandatory) to Coach Beard, Roy Kent, Keeley, Nathan, and more.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Army Men

Another DIY costume, all you need to nail this clever look are some green face paint and a green outfit — and maybe a helmet (though a green beanie will do in a pinch). It makes good use of the cargo-pant trend you bought into this past year.

Creative Halloween Costumes: LED Figure

Creative Halloween Costumes: LED Figure

This clever LED Stickman Halloween Costume ($110, originally $130) will make a big splash and is perfect if you plan to visit a haunted house or go trick-or-treating. We especially love the fact that it allows you to dress as warmly and comfortably as you like — no itchy fabrics or impractical shoes necessary.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Octopus

Creative Halloween Costumes: Octopus

This Octopus Hoodie ($176 and up) is spendy and only comes in kid sizes, but we love that it marries comfort and creativity. No one's going to accuse you of phoning it in on a costume this year, even though it's technically "just" a hoodie.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Head in the Clouds

Creative Halloween Costumes: Head in the Clouds

This creative Halloween costume is easy to make at home. Just stick some cotton "clouds" onto a blue pool floaty or piece of cardboard with a large hole cut out for your head. Not that crafty? Buy this Etsy Head in the Clouds Costume ($31) which is ready to go.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Boxed Wine

Creative Halloween Costumes: Boxed Wine

This is a relatively easy costume to DIY, but you can also buy a Franzia Costume ($10) on Etsy. If you're going to a Halloween party, make sure to bring along a good boxed wine to complete the look.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Mona Lisa

Creative Halloween Costumes: Mona Lisa

This Mona Lisa Costume Kit ($19, originally $33) is another one that lets you wear comfy clothes and still be dressed up. Go for a black or neutral outfit so all the attention is on your beautiful face, and experiment with makeup to help you really blend in. Then, just practice your smile.


Creative Halloween Costumes: "Seinfeld"

In case you can't tell, we love a costume that looks really dressed up but still lets you be comfy, and a "Seinfeld" group costume does just that. Get the gang together, pick a character, and go for it — and remember, the subtle touches (Kramer's hair; Elaine's blazers; George's puffers) make all the difference.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Cousin Itt

Creative Halloween Costumes: Cousin Itt

With the popularity of "Wednesday" this past year, it's a great time for an Addams Family-themed outfit. But rather than going as Wednesday, try a Cousin Itt Wig ($70 and up) instead.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Back to the Drawing Board

Creative Halloween Costumes: Back to the Drawing Board

This punny Back to the Drawing Board Costume ($50) is pretty simple to DIY if you have some key pieces: a piece of cardboard or thick posterboard, binder clips, a dry-erase marker, and a way to strap it all on your back. Just beware: people will draw on you throughout the night.


Creative Halloween Costumes: Sour

With the release of Olivia Rodrigo's second album, "Guts," it's a great time to replicate her iconic cover art from her first, "Sour." A tank top, a plaid skirt, and lots of (face-safe) stickers pull the look together.

Creative Halloween Costumes: Spice Girls

Creative Halloween Costumes: Spice Girls

Another pun, for a group that loves to laugh. These simple Spice Dresses ($36, originally $40) make it so easy to go as the "Spice Girls" — and no one's fighting over who gets to be Posh.