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24 Book Character Costumes Perfect for Halloween

From children's books to classic horror, we've got you covered.

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 24 book character costume 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 

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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.

Related: Dive into the Mystery of Nancy Drew's Legacy with Girl Sleuth 

Greasers and Socs from The Outsiders

via Instagram/@theelateacher 

book character costume the outsiders

Pretty much everybody who's ever gone to middle school has read The Outsiders, making this book character costume an instant hit. It's also incredibly easy to pull off—just pop the collar on a denim jacket and boom, you're a Greaser; or grab some pastels to make yourself a Soc. Bonus points if you channel Ralph Macchio when styling your hair. 

Related: 21 Books You've Read More Than Once 

A Handmaid from The Handmaid's Tale 

via Instagram/@vj_68 

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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.

Related: 20 Books Like The Handmaid's Tale 

Frankenstein's Monster from Frankenstein

via Instagram/@hforeste 

frankenstein book character costume

Though the monster has become famous as a big screen villain, Frankenstein's monster was first created by Mary Shelley as a book character in her horror classic. Pay homage to her creation by adding some protrusions to your neck, making people refer to you as "creature," "daemon," or "wretch," and occasionally having someone point at you and yell "It's alive!"

Related: 13 Groundbreaking Female Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors 

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

via Instagram/@caroline.and.crew 

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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.

Related: Hello, Old Friends: 10 Books That Look Like Your Childhood 

The Pigeon from Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

via Instagram/@thebeachclassroom 

a woman dressed as the pigeon from don't let the pigeon drive the bus, a book character costume

The wheedling and whiny pigeon from Mo Willems' hit children's book series is sure to be popular with both kids and any adults who have read the hilarious picture books. A baby blue shirt or dress is easy enough to find for this book character costume, though the pigeon headband is key. Thankfully, the character's features are simple enough that we think most of us could make a passable version to attach to a headband, as shown here. 

Related: 7 Children's Books Every Adult Should Read 

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

via Instagram/@gh.msp 

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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 

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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.

Related: 9 Best Thrillers with Strong Female Protagonists 

Waldo from Where's Waldo?

via Instagram/@nymorii 

book character costume where's waldo

A red and white cap, large, round black glasses and a red and white striped shirt are the staples to this classic book character costume. We warn you now, though: If you choose to wear this outfit, people will spend the entire party congratulating themselves on "finding" you.

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

via Instagram/@andrea.r.haag 

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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.

Related: Live Your Own Life: 10 Inspiring Facts About Margaret Mitchell 

Robin Hood from The Adventures of Robin Hood

via Instagram/@lvbirch 

robin hood book character costume

If you're a bit of a socialist, this costume is for you. Complete the look by adding a feather hair clip and nicking things from rich people all night before redistributing them to the less fortunate—when someone complains, you can just tell them, "We never rob. We just borrow a bit from those who can afford it."

Hunter S. Thompson 

via Instagram/@jordanknowmoore 

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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.

Related: 10 Books by Iconic Authors That You Might Have Missed 

Sherlock Holmes (and Watson) from the Sherlock Holmes Series

via Instagram/kazmin33 

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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.

Related: 8 Captivating Detective Novels You Won't Want to Put Down 

Alanna the Lionness from The Song of the Lionness

via Instagram/@woodsorrelwitch 

book character costume the song of the lionness

This book character costume is a bit of a deep cut, but people who love late 80s young adult fantasy novels are sure to get it. Alanna the Lioness is a fierce, red-headed girl who dressed as boy so she could train as a knight. Though her true identity was discovered, she went on to become the first female knight in 100 years, and eventually the King's Champion—talk about a strong female character!

Related: 12 Engrossing Fantasy Books Like The Lord of the Rings 

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice 

via Instagram/@byeyrewalter 

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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. 

Related: 10 Must-Reads for Die-Hard Jane Austen Fans 

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

via Instagram/@lilmoonchildd 

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There are plenty of fun, creative ways to be the eternally youthful Dorian Gray and/or his aging portrait. Either dress as Oscar Wilde's famous character 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).

Related: 11 Quotes to Inspire Readers and Writers 

Sam Vimes from the Discworld series

via Instagram/@the_great_british_grimes 

sam vimes discworld book character costume

Fan of Terry Pratchett will be impressed when you show up as this old-school British police officer from the popular Discworld novels. We suggest you don't insist on being referred to by the character's full title, however: His Grace, His Excellency, The Duke of Ankh; Commander Sir Samuel Vimes is a bit of a mouthful.

Related: 13 of the Best Dragons in Fantasy Fiction 

Mary Poppins and Bert from the Mary Poppins Series 

via Instagram/@marinachristine 

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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.

Related: Rediscover the Magic of P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins 

Hogwarts Faculty from the Harry Potter Series 

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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.

Related: 13 Books Like Harry Potter for Adult Readers 

Miss Marple from the Miss Marple Mystery Series

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  • 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.

Related: 9 Mystery Authors Like Agatha Christie 

Charlotte the Spider from Charlotte's Web

via Instagram/@adirla 

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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.

Related: 11 Books That Make Us Nostalgic 

50 Shades of Grey

via Instagram/@happygreylucky 

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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.

Related: Books Like 50 Shades of Grey 

Mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

via Instagram/@sydney_pricexo 

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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 

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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.

Related: In Memory of William Goldman, 1931-2018 

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

Published on 31 Oct 2018

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