Easy Character Dress-Up Ideas

Updated April 17, 2017

Character dress-up parties don't have to mean hours of sewing or cost you a fortune in materials or ready-made costumes. Impressive and easily recognisable outfits can be made simply, frequently out of clothes and accessories that you already own. Wear items distinctive to your chosen film, literary, cartoon or mythical character. Add appropriate modifications and props, while adopting any facial and oral expressions that the character is known for, to complete the effect.

Literary Figures

For a Harry Potter outfit, wear a black cape made from a dyed sheet with two arm holes cut in it, over dark clothes. Pin the cape around your neck with a safety pin. Add round spectacles and a lightning-flash scar on your forehead using make-up. Complete the look with a black wig, or temporary hair colourant, and a wand made from a dowel piece painted black and white.

Create a Huckleberry Finn costume with an old pair of dungarees, rolled up to expose bare feet, and a plain or checked shirt. Wear a tatty straw hat and occasionally suck on a long clay pipe, or similar-looking plastic bubble pipe.

Film Characters

Tarzan is an easy costume for men with body confidence. Tie the longest side of a tiger print or plain brown triangle of material around your waist. Safety-pin the front part up between your legs to make a loin cloth. Hit your chest and yodel to make the Tarzan trademark sound occasionally.

Holly Golightly's look from the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's" can be recreated by wearing a little black dress, a large pearl necklace, a pair of huge black sunglasses and some white gloves. Pin your hair up and maintain an air of effortless sophistication.

Cartoon Caricature

Be the Cat in the Hat from the classic Dr. Seuss book with black trousers and jacket worn with a white shirt and red tie. Use make-up for cat's whiskers and a black nose. Top the outfit off with a red-and-white-striped hat. Paint red stripes onto notice board paper and roll it into a tall cylinder that will fit your head. Use clear tape to hold it together. Paint a large red circle several centimetres wider than the cylinder and mark a circle in the centre that is the same diameter as the cylinder. Cut and tape the smaller circle to the top of the cylinder and the outer circle around the bottom.

Mythical Being

To be the Grim Reaper wear dark clothes and place a large piece of black material (again, a dyed sheet with arm holes is ideal) over your head and let it fall down over your body. Tie a rope around your waist. Make a sickle from a broomstick with a double-thick cardboard blade covered in blood (red paint) taped to the top. Wear a skeleton mask, or use make-up for a white face and black eyes.

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About the Author

Steve Sparkes started writing professionally in 1982. He was a journalist and photographer for "The New York Waste" magazine for a decade. Sparkes has a diploma of art and design and a Bachelor of Arts in history of art from the South-East Essex School of Art. He also has a Master of Arts in photography from the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts.