Halloween is less than a week away, and your time for finding a costume is almost up... almost. We’ve got a guide to a bunch of quick, cheap, do-it-yourself outfits that also happen to be genuinely good costumes—and they’re not only good, they’re timely, too! If you’re a nerdy procrastinator on a budget, youcan’t go wrong with these.
1) Luke Cage, Marvel’s Luke Cage
Well, obviously. All you need is a hoodie with holes cut in it, and you’re good to go.
2) The Byers’ Living Room, Stranger Things
There are going to be zillions of Elevens running around—and that’s a costume you could DIY easily, if you have time to do a thrift-store crawl trying to score a pink baby-doll dress. You could do Barb (dead or alive, depending on your make-up stills—though if you’re talented enough to pull off Dead Barb, you probably don’t need a last-minute Halloween idea). You could also be Joyce, as seen in this spot-on cosplay image.
But the guy dressed as the wall o’ lights has the best idea yet. All you need is a shirt that looks like fugly wallpaper, decorated with an alphabet that looks like it was scrawled by a desperate mother whose kid has suddenly vanished into a parallel dimension. Add the Christmas lights and voila.
3) Newt Scamander, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Obviously, the Harry Potter prequel star has a very distinctive outfit which, unless you have a very specific style of bowtie, you can’t match. But most dark colored jackets will pass for Newt’s dark blue, and he also wears a scarf in many of the film’s promotional shots, which should allow you to get way with anything vaguely dressy underneath the coat, especially if you keep it buttoned. Get a briefcase, flip your hair over your eyes, and add a Matt Smith impression, and expecto costume.
4) Felicity Smoak, Arrow
This one also requires minimal rummaging beyond everyday attire. You’ll need square glasses, a smart shirt and skirt, a ponytail, a tablet (very important!) and to pretend you came to the party with a vested interest (while in reality, spending the entire night browsing Twitter and ignoring everyone). Take to Tumblr if you need further inspiration—this fan-favorite character is more versatile than you realize.
5) Pre-Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange
While the easiest Doctor Strange costume would be to get a surgical mask and pair of scrubs, the latter aren’t exactly something you can pick up at the local Walgreens. The next best thing: Dress in a nice suit, grow (or draw) an impossibly sharp goatee, and wrap your hands in several dozen feet of medical gauze. Then tell everyone you’re simply recovering from a car accident.
6) Basically Anyone from The Walking Dead
Wear any outfit you want, but roll it in the dirt for approximately 15 minutes. Stop washing your hair from this point forward; maybe consider putting some kind of vegetable oil in it if it doesn’t have the necessary greasiness by the time your Halloween party arrives. Splatter yourself generously with fake blood (it’s the one Halloween costume supply literally every store should have in stock until November, but red food coloring and some kind of corn syrup will do the same trick).
7) Clara, Doctor Who
Companion Clara is perfect for last-minute costume inspiration because she dresses in normal clothes most of the time. Add a key, maybe the sonic screwdriver in your pocket (here’s how to make one out of a pen and a few other things), and then spend the evening asking people if they’ve seen the Doctor anywhere.
8) Bruce Banner, The Hulk
You really need only two items for this costume: 1) a pair of pants you don’t mind ruining and 2) the willingness to walk around without a shirt on. Cut the legs off your pants/slacks of choice, making sure to let the ends look as tattered as possible. Put on pants. Boom, you’ve just transformed from the Hulk into Bruce Banner If you can get your hands on some purple dye at a nearby craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, so much the better.
9) Dolores, Westworld
This one’s a little dodgy, but stay with us. Obviously, not many of you are going to have a dowdy, light blue country dress, which is the cyborg host’s more iconic outfit. However, she’s also been spotted wearing the get-up above in previous trailers and promo materials, and should make its debut in this Sunday’s episode. It’s a striped button-down shirt, belt, jeans, and boots, which should be staples in many closets. Complete the outfit with a toy revolver, a mainstay of the cheap toy aisles in grocery stores and pharmacies everywhere. If people don’t recognize you as the star of Westworld, shoot them with your toy gun, look baffled and aghast when it doesn’t harm them, and run off screaming something about how guests of the park can’t be killed.
10) Elliot, Mr. Robot
This one’s even easier than Luke Cage—just a dark hoodie. No holes required. Backpack with laptop partially sticking out of it optional but recommended.
Bonus) Nada, They Live
Okay, this one isn’t timely, given it’s from John Carpenter 1987 magnum opus They Live, but it’s too cool not to share. Leave the alien ghoul outfits (like this amazing example) to people who started making their costumes back in March. It’ll take much less time and effort to play Rowdy Roddy Piper’s character—all you need is a blue plaid shirt, maybe a mullet wig if you can snag one, and most importantly, a pair of sunglasses—but the end result is no less crowd-pleasing. This woman’s decision to grab a pack of bubble gum to complete the ensemble is truly A+ attention to detail.
What last-minute DIY Halloween ideas do you have to share with anyone who’s still scrambling for a costume? Help your fellow io9-ers out by adding your own tips in the comments.