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17 Literary Costumes That'll Be a Hit With All Your Bookish Friends

Dress to impress, and you'll be the talk of your Halloween party.

It seems that every fall, we say we'll plan out a fabulous Halloween costume—but thanks to busy schedules, we never actually do. By the time October 31st rolls around, we've inevitably fallen back on our Old Faithfuls: a nerd, a witch, a sports fan, etc. But this year, we have a couple of tricks up our sleeves...

If you're a bibliophile in desperate need of a costume, take a gander at the seventeen ideas below. Some are funny and some are adorable, but they're all lit-inspired getups worthy of an Instagram post. Whether you're dressing as Harry Potter's Professor Trelawney or Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, you're sure to be the talk of every Halloween party.

Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew Series 

via Instagram/@these.bookish_babblings 


Walk into a party dressed as the world’s #1 Girl Sleuth, and you’re bound to find at least one other longtime Nancy Drew enthusiast. All this outfit requires is some vintage-inspired clothes (preferably accompanied by a magnifying glass and a touch of plaid). You can have your partner dress as a Hardy Boy—and presto! You have a costume for two.

A Handmaid from The Handmaid's Tale 

via Instagram/@vj_68 


Margaret Atwood’s feminist dystopian novel sees the titular “handmaids” wear red as a symbol of powerlessness and childbearing, their main duty. Find a cloak of your own and pair it with a white bonnet for a costume that’s creepy, relevant, and will keep away the bastards that grind you down. If you're up to it, take things to the next level by recreating Janine’s injured eye.

Miss Clavel, Madeline, and Co. from the Madeline Series 

via Instagram/@caroline.and.crew 


Madeline's Miss Clavel and her brood of boarding school students make an adorable group costume—whether you’re an adult going out with friends or taking the kids trick-or-treating. Note: “Something is not right” unless your getup includes a nun’s habit, straw boater hats, and bright primary colors.

Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus from The Magic School Bus Series

via Instagram/@gh.msp 


An eccentric 4th grade teacher and the queen of wild field trips, Ms. Frizzle is arguably the coolest person at Walkerville Elementary School. It only makes sense that when you dress like her (a patterned dress and a frizzy red wig will do), you’ll be the coolest person at your Halloween get-together. An A+ goes to whoever makes a magic school bus out of their friend or significant other. 

Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium Series

via Instagram/@amywestyy 


You’ll definitely turn heads as the heroine of the Millennium series, Lisbeth Salander, who kicks criminal butt with her hacking skills and photographic memory. Summon your inner punk badass, find some fake piercings, throw on a couple temporary tattoos, and you’ll be ready to take down all the men who’ve wronged you.

Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the Wind

via Instagram/@andrea.r.haag 


Show that, frankly, you and your partner do give a damn (about Halloween, that is) by going all-out with a Gone with the Wind costume. Be as period-correct as you want—but know that, in the end, your Rhett-like suaveness and Scarlett sass are just as important as the outfits.

Hunter S. Thompson 

via Instagram/@jordanknowmoore 


Famous journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson served up some iconic looks—including the one that’s immortalized on the cover of his most famous work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Inspired by Thompson’s own adventures in Sin City, the semi-autobiographical novel is an exploration of drugs, the American Dream, and 1960s counterculture.

Sherlock Holmes (and Watson) from the Sherlock Holmes Series

via Instagram/kazmin33 


Dressing up as the mystery genre's most iconic duo requires a simple costume—just get a peacoat, a pipe, maybe some tweed or plaid, and start deducing where all the extra candy is hidden. Plus, you can play around with a gender-bent Holmes and Watson à la Elementary.

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice 

via Instagram/@byeyrewalter 


While getting proper Regency-era clothing is difficult (especially if you’re on a budget), there are plenty of contemporary dresses that give off a Keira-Knightley-as-Elizabeth-Bennet vibe. Just make sure your Darcy isn’t too brooding and that he does, in fact, like to dance. Otherwise, you’re in for a long night. 

Dorian Gray (and His Portrait) from The Picture of Dorian Gray

via Instagram/@lilmoonchildd 


There are plenty of fun, creative ways to be the eternally youthful Dorian Gray and/or his aging portrait. Either dress as Gray himself and carry a painting around (bonus points if it’s a hilariously bad original), or get a little Cruella de Vil with your makeup and play both roles (see photo).

Mary Poppins and Bert from the Mary Poppins Series 

via Instagram/@marinachristine 


Everyone’s favorite flying nanny and Bert, “The Match Man,” are making a highly anticipated return to the big screen in Mary Poppins Returns—so it’s the perfect time to step into their tap-dancing shoes. Whether you’re modeling your look off the animated sequence in the film (see above) or taking your cues from the original series, your costume is sure to be relevant and supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Hogwarts Faculty from the Harry Potter Series 


While everybody else dresses up as the Harry Potter trio or other Hogwarts students, you can stick out from the crowd by impersonating the most memorable members of the faculty. The photo above shows Minerva McGonagall, Sybill Trelawney, and Dolores Umbridge, but there are plenty of other costume-worthy professors—from Mad Eye Moody to and Gilderoy Lockhart.

Miss Marple from the Miss Marple Mystery Series

  • Photo Credit: Still from 'Agatha Christie's Marple" (2004), via PBS

She may be an old spinster, but Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is one of the sharpest amateur sleuths around. She's also an equally sharp costume idea, as you can find most of her stuff in somebody's closet. Stick to neutrals, tweeds, and classic styles for your main get-up, and then top things off with a hat and an old-school handbag. But keep in mind: Your best accessory is your knack for deductive reasoning.

Charlotte the Spider from Charlotte's Web

via Instagram/@adirla 


E.B. White’s lovable arachnid is a cute, DIY project for yourself or your little ones. You can experiment with the basics and accessories, but your must-have essential is a homemade poncho that displays one of Charlotte’s confidence-boosting messages.

50 Shades of Grey

via Instagram/@happygreylucky 


Are you a jokester looking for a last-minute costume? Prepare your inner god/goddess for some backflips: This punny take on E.L. James’ hit novel only requires a dive into your own closet and a quick trip to the paint section of Home Depot. You’re guaranteed to get some laughs.

Mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

via Instagram/@sydney_pricexo 


After all these years, Laura Numeroff’s 1980s children’s series, If You Give…, still puts a smile on our faces. Spread the happiness and nostalgic vibes with an If You Give a Mouse a Cookie-inspired costume—complete with real cookies if you want to make an extra good impression.

Westley, Buttercup, and Co. from The Princess Bride 

via Instagram/@pawsomeart 


Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride or its 1987 film adaptation? Nobody, that’s who. Fulfill your lifelong dreams of being Westley or Buttercup, and convince your friends to dress as Goldman’s cast of unforgettable characters. If anything, it’ll give everyone an excuse to shamelessly quote the movie for a couple of hours.

Featured still from "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004), via Warner Bros. Pictures

Published on 31 Oct 2018

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