If you’re anything like me, you might have waited until the last possible minute to put together a Halloween costume (oops). Maybe you have a themed party to go to–or maybe your kids are just begging them to dress up with you. Either way, your costume doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, there are a lot of fun ways to incorporate your favorite activity (reading!) into a last minute book-themed halloween costume.
One of the things I absolutely hate about last minute Halloween costumes are how low-effort they can come across. If you stop at a Walmart or Dollar General, you might be able to find a costume on the cheap, but it’s going to look exactly like the $10 you paid for it. On the flip side, you could go as a pirate or cowgirl, or even someone from The Office, but it’s not exactly out-of-the-box, if you catch my drift.
Halloween costumes need personality, and the more creative you can get with them, the better! Every year, I make an effort to think out-of-the-box, even if it’s not necessarily a hard costume to pull off. And, this year, I committed myself to create a fun, book-themed halloween costume that I knew would go over well (with minimal effort).
So, if you’re looking for something that your friends probably won’t be wearing, but you want to incorporate your favorite reads, check out some of these unique book-themed Halloween costumes that will rock your world with items you probably already have in your closet.
Claire Fraser from Outlander
Okay, so this is actually t he costume I went with this year. I am OBSESSED with Outlander and it is one of my favorite TV adaptations, too. This costume was super simple to put together and took minimal effort, while still looking pretty freaking adorable.
You could go all out with this one and do a corset, or one of Claire’s structured tops, but I chose to do a plain black mockneck top and then layer a scarf over it. Claire wears knitted shawls in the first few seasons of the show, but I didn’t have a knitted shawl (they are surprisingly hard to come by) so I went ahead and pinned a normal scarf in the back, and then adjusted it to fit like one of Claire’s shawls would.
For this look, I also went with a green tartan skirt, though any maxi skirt would probably do (I think the tartan really does add an extra component to it, though!), and I also went with a pair of brown boots and a waist bag.
The key to this look is Claire’s messy curly hair, and of course, your copy of Outlander (the book!).
This look was super easy, comfy, and I would highly recommend it for a last minute book-themed halloween costume.
Edgar Allan Poe
If there’s a literary costume that fits the Halloween theme, it’s Edgar Allan Poe. While Poe was actually a real person (obvs), I think it’s been long enough now that everyone knows who he is.
So, this costume was actually created by Quirky Bohemian Mama and I definitely think that it’s something that could be thrown together pretty quickly and still look great.
This costume pretty much just requires a white shirt, black pants, and a vest (you could add a suit jacket too, if it’s cold out), and then of course–the raven. It would be pretty easy to jack this one up with some cool makeup and spooky touches (maybe some fake cobwebs?), but it also would be pretty easy to stop at your local thrift store and get the pieces for a quick costume, too.
I think a nice added touch to this one would be carrying a book of Poe’s work (my personal favorite story of his is The Black Cat).
If you need to order in a raven, you can find them on Amazon for like 10 bucks, but you might also have some luck at local Halloween stores or department stores, too.
Ms Frizzle from The Magic School Bus
Cruisin’ on down Main Street You’re relaxed and feeling good, Next thing that you know you’re seein’ Octopus in the neighborhood?!
Okay, there’s like NO way not to get this song stuck in your head. Did anyone else grow up watching The Magic School Bus every morning before school? I absolutely loved this show and apparently it’s aged well, because I still see kids borrowing the books at my local library.
If you’re in a rush and only have a few hours, I think this costume would be the epitome of easy DIY. For this one, all you really need is a blue dress. You can add in Ms. Frizzle’s white accents at the collar or add a white belt if you have one, but the telltale hint of this costume is the planets attached.
To make the planets, I’d pick up some felt from Walmart or a local craft store and cut out the shapes. Then, use some fabric glue to add them to the dress and let them dry. Be sure to add in some variety like stars, moons, and even a rocket ship, like this dress Josie made at Maniacs in The Middle. Her article actually shows how she made the outfit, so definitely check that out if you’re interested in this one.
To complete this book-themed halloween costume, be sure to wear some funky earrings like Ms. Frizzle would!
Nancy Drew costumes aren’t exactly a new idea. Carolyne Keene’s classic series has been loved for generations–which means it’s probably a less popular costume in 2022 when everyone and their mother are in Sanderson sisters Halloween costumes (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
If you’re looking for a book-themed halloween costume, this one is pretty easy and you might even have all the items already. I think a turtleneck or a camel colored top would be nice for this look, especially paired with a plaid skirt like this photo from Bookbub. The sweater tied at the shoulders here is a must, but I think this look would really be elevated with a pair of old-school loafers.
Don’t forget Nancy’s classic accessories–her headband and her magnifying glass! If you want to get creative with this one, you definitely can, but I think this costume would be so easy for a last minute option.
A Book “Fairy”
If you have a little bit more time to put your costume together, a cool book-themed halloween costume would be a “book fairy.” This is a term that has been part of the book community for a little while now and it basically means someone that gifts books to others for free (usually new books, but not always!). The trend has become popular on Tiktok where creators send books to other Tiktok-ers via Amazon wishlists.
Anywho, I think conceptualizing this idea is so adorable and Randi and her daughter, Kennedy from Duke & Duchesses really outdid themselves with their version of a book fairy. They used an old book to create a skirt by rolling up the book pages and fastening them together (it looks like they either glued them to a belt or maybe used elastic). I liked that they repurposed the book to use as the fairy wings and the wand, as well.
If you aren’t keen on destroying a book, I think there could be a lot of cute ways to execute this costume, especially if you are able to use an already partially destroyed book that was going to a landfill anyway (better yet, recycle the pages when you’re done).
I do think this look might take some time and effort, so maybe put on a season of Gilmore Girls and work on this one if you have some spare time.
Last, but not least, is a book-themed halloween costume inspired by one of my favorite children’s books: Pippi Longstocking.
This is one of the first books I remember reading as a kid–I think I checked it out of the library so many times, my mom wouldn’t let me borrow it anymore. But, I absolutely loved reading about Pippi’s adventures.
This is another costume that would be pretty easy to put together with minimal effort. The key to this costume is something striped (I think striped socks or tights would probably work best) and, of course, a ton of mismatched clothing. The real Pippi wore a shirt-dress with boots, but I think you could really put together a lot of options for this costume.
The most difficult aspect of this costume would definitely be the hair. I would suspect that a wig would probably be the easiest option, but if you are a redhead already, it might be fun to create Pippi’s iconic braids on your own! I’m thinking a wire and a ton of hairspray would be a must for a DIY version of this hairdo.