Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but I'll admit that I've dealt with a number of years in which the holiday has completely snuck up on me. This lack of preparation has left me to cope with the pathetic final dredges of leftover, ill-fitting Halloween costumes from stores or lengthy delays in online shipping. But while I tend to be a shopping procrastinator, I also happen to be resourceful, and have been able to create a number of DIY Halloween looks incorporating the one item that just about every woman has in her closet: The little black dress.
Whether you're aiming for a scary, sexy, or nostalgic look this Halloween, the little black dress can serve as a number one ingredient for a memorable look. In addition to being cost-effective, a little black dress Halloween costume is also easy, chic, and won't awkwardly collect dust in the back of your closet during the other 51 non-spooky weekends of the year.
Of course, you can throw on a black dress before popping on a pair of fake fangs or a witch hat, but there's also a treasure trove of icons from popular culture that are recognizable, fun, and feature the famous sleek black number. Scroll on for some of our favorite contemporary looks that incorporate the ultimate women's fashion staple.
It's just about impossible to think of the little black dress as a costume (or of the little black dress at all) without thinking of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's. It's one of the chicest, most immediately recognizable looks of all time, and it's unbelievably easy to put together. One year, when I was in college, I dressed as Golightly, and it remains one of my most compliment-inducing costumes to date.
Not only is the matter-of-fact, ever-pessimistic, astonishingly woke Wednesday Addams one of the most meme-able and relatable characters of all time, but her preppy-meets-goth look is also easy to mimic and incredibly fun. Pair her classic, iconic collared outfit with tall socks and Mary Janes for the full look. And don't forget the pigtail braids!
Like her daughter Wednesday, Morticia Addams is also a fashion icon. If you love The Addams Family but want to go the sexy rather than killer-child route, consider Morticia's dramatic, form-fitting silhouette and killer red lip. For the full look, straighten your hair or look into black hair extensions—and if you're in a couple, see if your partner is down to be the Gomez to your Morticia!
Beetlejuice is one of my absolute favorite movies (who can forget those possessed dancing scenes and that unhinged artistic decor?), and Lydia Deetz is everyone's favorite angsty teen. If, like Lydia, you are a self-professed "strange and unusual" person, try out her spooky look. What with Winona Ryder's recent re-uptick in popularity after appearing in Stranger Things, this costume is bound to be a nostalgic hit.
Marilyn Monroe is one of the most recognizable beauties of all time, and with Andrew Dominick's new Monroe-centered film Blonde (starring Ana de Armas), interest in this icon is sure to continue rising. Marilyn posed in the above still for her role in the 1950 film The Asphalt Jungle, but once you master the hair and makeup aspect of her look, there'll be no mistaking who you're dressed as.
Cruella de Vil
I do not stand behind the OG Cruella de Vil's animal cruelty, but I do love her outfit—and I always have. Not only is this look chic and universally flattering, but its long shearling coat is a great way of keeping warm during this often-chilly holiday. A costume that's sexy and cozy? Let's. Go.
Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things beauty, sexual wellness, and fashion. She's also written about sex, gender, and politics for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal since 2018. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.
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