If you're stuck for ideas for what to wear at a costume or Halloween party, try copying the dress sense of recognisable villains from the world of movies, books and comics. These villains' looks are easily achievable with only a minimal amount of effort and expense, and typically feature materials that aren't too difficult to find at a thrift or surplus store.
Sci-Fi and Fantasy
These costumes are lifted from fantastic tales. The menacing antagonist of the "Matrix" movie series, Agent Smith, is simple to create because the basis of his outfit consists of a black suit, complete with black tie. You can round out the costume with an earpiece, the kind that club security personnel use, and a pair of dark shades. Lord Voldemort, villain in the "Harry potter" film and book series, is based on a black robe, which should stretch to the floor. Voldemort's skin is pale, so use white theatrical make-up for this, and consider a pair of scary contact lenses for his eyes. You can then purchase a wizard's wand or make one from wood or a similar material, and carry a plastic snake as a prop.
One of the best known villains from fairy tale lore is the Evil Witch from "Snow White." Start with the dress, which should be purple, and create or buy a black cape to wear over your shoulders. Atop your head, attach a gold crown, which can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. Jewellery, including rings on your fingers and a brocade to wear on the cape's front, will finish off your costume. A costume based on the wicked Fairy Godmother from "Shrek" takes as its basis a simple long dress, with the hair arranged in a bun. Accessories for this outfit include a plastic wand and a pair of toy wings, typically available from toy stores.
Violent horror movies lend themselves well to villain costumes. The nightmarish Freddy from the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series is best-recognised by his jumper, which features red and black horizontal stripes. You'll need to find a razor-glove to finish the look, but you could create this simply by gluing bits of plastic to an existing glove. "Friday The 13th" star Jason Voorhees wears an evil-looking hockey mask, but besides that, a costume modelled on this villain requires only scruffy trousers and shirt combination to do the trick.
Other Movie Villains
Hollywood has given us plenty of recognisable villains. To appear as Hannibal Lecter, the character from "The Silence of the Lambs," find an orange jumpsuit, like those that prisoners wear. You can add plastic or metal shackles too. Complete Hannibal's trademark look with a face mask featuring a grill that covers the mouth. Legendary vampire Dracula is rarely without his black, sweeping cape. Other essentials for a Dracula costume include a white shirt, black trousers, and some blood-red make-up. Don't forget some plastic fangs to turn you into a creature of the night.