Circus theme costume ideas

Written by ticara gailliard
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Circus theme costume ideas
Circus costumes should be flashy and fun. (Adrian Peacock/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The circus captures the heart of both children and adults alike, which is why circus costumes are popular picks for Halloween. The costumes should encompass the fun and whimsy of the circus and be tailored to fit your needs.


Ringleaders act as the hosts of a circus and are often one of the more popular circus-related costumes. Ringleaders usually dress in a red-and-black riding-style jacket, with khaki or black trousers and tall black boots. A top hat and riding crop or whip usually top off the outfit. Adult women may want to amp up the costume by wearing a miniskirt instead of trousers, or a black corset and red shrug instead of a ringleader jacket. With ringleaders, the flashier, the better. Add gold accessories or a feathery piece to the top hat to stand out even more.

Circus Animal

Circuses involve an array of animals such as tigers, elephants and lions. Some circuses also feature a bear act. For a costume, the options are either to wear a literal interpretation of the animal or create a more abstract animal costume. Look for fuzzy lion costumes from a costume shop or try sewing one yourself. For a more abstract animal costume, find clothing in the same colour scheme as the animal you want to be. For instance, a tiger costume could include a tiger-print skirt or trousers, a tail, and some cat-style make-up.

Lion Tamer

Lion tamers dress rather similarly to ringleaders; one major difference is ringleaders wear bright, bold colours, while lion tamers stick to monotone outfits, usually khaki coloured. Lion tamers often have a whip and a wooden chair, used as a show to fend off an advancing lion. Tall boots and either a top hat or an explorer's hat round out the accessories. On occasion, lion tamers have burning hoops that the lions jump through -- a simple hula hoop will work for a costume. Consider carrying a stuffed lion or have a friend agree to be your lion counterpart.


Clowns provide comic relief at circuses, often riding around the rings in tiny cars or on unicycles. Clown costumes are easy to come by. They are usually brightly coloured one-piece jumpsuits with large floppy shoes. Clowns often have rainbow-coloured wigs and red balls for noses. To piece together a clown outfit, find things in your wardrobe that are oversized and mismatched, such as a striped shirt with baggy patterned trousers. Wear face paint to make your features more exaggerated.

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