The DIY Guide to Being Harley Quinn This Halloween

From a woman who did it last year ♦.

Jaw, Tooth, Fictional character, Makeover, Pleased, Flesh,
(Image credit: Archives)

Being Harley Quinn is a trip. I know this because last Halloween, I pretended to be her. Inspired by Margot Robbie on the set of Suicide Squad (the first trailer didn't come out until months later), I literally couldn't wait to take on the latest, pig-tailed iteration of DC Comics' favorite villainess.

It's funny, because even prior to the film coming out, Quinn was the highest searched Halloween costume of 2015. Prediction: Halloween 2016 is going to be a sea of Daddy's Little Monsters.

So as the torch is passed to another year of make-believe Harleys, I impart this wisdom of how to become her with one major plea: Do NOT buy a tacky costume kit. You'll be a poor woman's Harley.

Costume, Costume accessory, Glove, Costume design, Cosplay, Belt, Hair accessory, Fictional character, Hair coloring, Acting,

(Image credit: Archives)

The Hair

Needless to say, as a bottle blonde I had a major advantage when it came to hair. Prior to Halloween, I dyed my hair a brighter platinum. If you're a blonde, you don't have to go to these lengths per se, you can just lighten things up with white hair spray.

If you aren't blonde, buying a wig will be your best bet. Of course real human hair will look the best, but that'll be crazy expensive. The more economical route would be buying the best synthetic blonde wig within your budget. To make it look more realistic, spray it with a matte hair spray or dry texture spray so that it's less shiny. Also, go with a lace-front wig, which will look less bulky and obvious around the hair line.

I personally think it's better to buy a regular blonde wig, then style it as Harley's hair, as opposed to buying a pre-set wig. It will look more authentic.

As far as styling my hair like Harley, I wont lie—I had help! My hairstylist Kat Zemtsova blew out my curly hair for smooth, bouncy texture like Harley's, then used bungee bands (your best bet for a long night of bad behavior) to tie my hair into two, perfectly-symmetrical pigtails. She left out the two, face-framing wisps though, which are *very important*.

For more body and volume in the pigtails, she used a dry texture spray to amp things up. She then tied one red ribbon around the bungee band on one side, and a royal blue ribbon on the other. To finish the look, she used red and blue temporary hair color sprays on the ends of the pigtails. This color stayed put in my hair nicely until I washed it out.

The Makeup

The best thing about Harley's makeup is that it's perfectly imperfect, so I wouldn't get too hung up on making it flawless. Start by brushing white powder onto the face for a "ghostly" effect before moving onto the eyes.

For the red and blue, tear-stained smoky eyes, you can actually just use your fingers to smudge on the pigment. The red lip is a little trickier, as you want that to be drawn on neat with a lip liner so it doesn't smear the wrong way. Then, once it looks good, make it look "melted" in the lower left corner.

For the face tattoos, you're going to want to use a felt-tip, long-lasting liquid liner pen to draw on the small heart on her cheek beneath the right eye. Then, you'll write "ROTTEN" beneath that. This will be a lot easier if you have a friend with a steady hand do it, but still possible to do to yourself with time, precision, and makeup remover.

Next, heed these words: The body tattoos are non-negotiable to complete the look. While you have to use makeup on the face, you can use Sharpie markers on your body (mainly your legs) to ensure that they don't get smudged as the night wears on. Again, if you can have a friend help you with this, that's ideal. Just let pictures of Harley from different angles be your guide. You can also buy temporary tattoo stickers of her tats on eBay!

The Costume

For the costume portion of my look, I basically hunted everything down on Etsy and eBay looking for the best options of each piece. However, I did this late in the game to the point where I 1) Paid a lot for international shipping and 2) Didn't receive things on time.

Purchase everything as far in advance as possible and be sure not to overpay for cheap materials. The best purchases I made, by far, were the "PUDDIN" choker, gold spiked cuffs, and sequin booty shorts.

I originally bought a handmade Daddy's Little Monster T-shirt on Etsy, but days before Halloween it still hadn't come. I panicked and took matters into my own hands by buying a plain white long-sleeved shirt at H&M. I took it to a print shop for the lettering, then painted it myself the night before praying it would dry in time. Not only did this save me money in the end, it was fun and made my costume feel more personal.

To save money, I also borrowed my "Attitude Adjusted"-emblazoned bat from someone (um, yeah, don't ask!), bought the fake gun holster at a costume shop, and used my own vintage gold hardware belt.

And then voilà! I was Harley. But seriously, my overarching advice is to be creative, not to skimp on the details, get into character, and have some deliciously-evil fun. Oh, and if you can find a Joker to be your partner in crime (they're everywhere), he'll be a nice accessory.

Follow Marie Claire on Facebook for the latest celeb news, beauty tips, fascinating reads, livestream video, and more.

Beauty Editor

Lauren Valenti is Vogue’s former senior beauty editor. Her work has also appeared on,, and in In Style. She graduated with a liberal arts degree from Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts, with a concentration on Culture and Media Studies and a minor in Journalism.