Last-Minute Halloween Costume Ideas for the Desperate College Student

By Brendan O’Connell

With the crisp autumn chill overtaking the sweltering heat of summer, fall is now in full swing. The changing leaves and pumpkin-spice specialties are signs that Halloween is just around the corner.


Oh, wait… it’s already here.

If you’re anything like me, your Halloween probably unfolds in the same way every year.

In April, you think of something that would be a dynamite Halloween costume and make a mental note of it. If only October 31st wasn’t seven months away…

In that seventh-month period, you procrastinate planning your costume. Is a T Pain-inspired look still as relevant seven months after Spring Weekend? Will my buddy still want to team up to be Ketchup and Mustard? Wait - we’re going out three times now and I need a different costume every night? I’m not cut out for this!

College Halloweens are pressure-packed. You can’t be too generic - that’s lame. You can’t be too niche - then you’ll have to explain yourself to everyone except the couple of people who share your same obscure guilty pleasures. You have to walk the fine line between being too prude and too bold. It’s a competition to see who can come up with the most clever reference, pull off the best partner collaboration, or put together a perfectly styled costume - all on a student budget.

Well, the time has come. Maybe all this pressure - or midterms, or family weekend, or the annual “plague” - has gotten to you and you haven’t been able to figure out who or what to be, and you are in the desperate position of being (*gasp*) costumeless.

You never made it to Party City to buy props, never coordinated with a friend, and definitely never carved out time to make your own costume. To top it off, you leave in just over an hour to go college-style “trick-or-treating” (traveling from one apartment pregame to the next on the search for free booze.)  But the ‘fit is still not up to par and time is running out…

What can you do?

As someone who has been in this position on numerous occasions, let me help you out by providing some last-minute inspiration.

To take a few ideas off the table, I’ve compiled a list of things that are no longer relevant enough to choose to be for Halloween this year:

  • A Tide Pod. The worst eating trend since unicorn food does not deserve to be dignified with a costume.

  • Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson. Love is fake.

  • Anything Fortnite related. So seven months ago.

  • Lil Pump, Lil Xan, Lil Skies, 6ix9ine, etc. Haven’t we all had enough of SoundCloud rappers? I don’t want to take any business away from Tuff City, but Halloween is no reason to get a face tattoo.

  • Mario Batali. As fun as wearing crocs and a ponytail might be, you can incorporate the electricity of waterproof shoes in so many more iconic ways.

  • Pennywise. For the sake on the Public Safety phone operator, please do not appear in public as a clown.

With those out of the way, let’s explore what you can do with limited time and resources to salvage this year’s spooktacular - and your reputation.

Here are some costumes sure to cast a spell on your fellow Hallowitches:

  • Grandmother. Everyone loves their Grampy, but there’s just something special about Nana. Pay tribute to her just days after Family Weekend by putting your hair in curlers, digging up your ugliest sweater, and grabbing a cane and pocketbook as props to look the part. Don’t forget to withdraw cash so that you can slip a five-dollar bill inside of people’s pockets every time you leave a party.

  • Sleeping Beauty. If you have a princess costume lying around, great! If you don’t, you can still be Sleeping Beauty. Throw on some pajamas (even better, some footies) and you’re the punniest kid around. Make-up and crown optional, or you can go full bed-head for irony (and get a precious pre-night-out nap in, too).

  • American Idol contestant. Here’s your chance to fulfill your dreams of being a Rambler or Satin Doll. A chic outfit, a printed audition number and golden ticket, and an optional instrument will have everyone singing your praises for a simple, smart costume, and might even spark a conversation about where Kara DioGuardi is now.

  • Lady Gaga. She’s back in the headlines for her acclaimed role in A Star is Born, but you’re looking to throw it back. Head on over to Pod/A Crust Above/SubConnection/Whatever It’s Called Nowadays and order all the deli meat you can afford on DCB. Staple it all together and paste some slices of beef to your clothes to (sort of) recreate the meat dress outfit from the glory days. Careful of the papa-paparazzi with this lewk!

  • The line at Starbucks. Are you and your whole squad struggling to figure out a third or fourth night’s worth of Halloween costumes? Throw on some street clothes and grab a minimum of twenty friends to form the slow-moving queue at pre-class time rush hour. The best part of this costume is you can sip whatever you want out of your Starbucks to-go cup throughout the night. Write your misspelled name on the side to add authenticity.

  • Sexy priest. When in doubt, take an ordinary occupation and add some raunch dressing. Take your pick between the all-black attire with a white collar and the alb and chasuble, but turn up the heat and Ram-ify your costume by adding glasses and a titillating fake mustache.

Despite time working against you, get crafty, get creative, repurpose your wardrobe, ask a friend for help. Do whatever it takes, because the last thing you want is to be the worst-dressed person on Halloween. Trust me, I should know.

CampusJonathan Meador