Your Best Halloween Costume Ever: Ridiculously Easy Ideas For Lazy, Broke or Busy Queers

My Halloween costume philosophy is simple: don’t spend more than you’d spend on a 40, and only wear what you’re willing to get stained, because the Law of Halloween Celebrations states that alcohol, fake blood or facepaint will be end up  on your person at least once per event. Here’s a few suggestions for assembling a costume that says “I’m gay” or “I’m up to date on trends and politics” or “I’m gay AND I’m up to date on trends and politics,” AND takes less than twenty minutes to put together. You probably own everything you need and what you don’t already have, you can very easily borrow, thrift or pick up at a dollar store. Cuties can’t resist a topical queer, especially one who is wise with their dweebish finances.

 Romney’s Offshore Assets

Find yourself a Cayman Islands t-shirt (or you know, write the words “Cayman Islands” on a plain white shirt) and a dollar sign necklace. Bonus points if you have pockets full of play money. If you see anyone dressed as the American public, make sure you hide from them as long as you possibly can before giving a strategic appearance at the end of the party.

Lesbian Bed Death

This might actually be the scariest costume on the list. Pair pajama pants and a spare pillow with a t-shirt you’re willing to write on. Draw a skull and cross bones, and if you have a feeling you’re going to be too inebriated to explain your costume for the rest of the night, write “lesbian bed death” on there, too. This was my costume during the day last year, and after wearing it to class, I got a lot of comments on how frightening it was. Only at a women’s college, anassa kata.

Queer Temporality

Weed out the queer theorists at your Halloween party by wearing an oversized clock necklace (yes, apparently Flava Flav is a popular enough costume that there are five-dollar oversized clock necklaces at party stores) and a nametag that reads “QUEER.” Ta-da, you’re queer temporality! If Jack Halberstam is at the party, you guys will totally become best friends and do body shots off whoever is dressed up as “Female Masculinity.” Hot.

God’s Gift to Women

This was my costume two years ago, not even gonna try and cover that up. It’s super easy, and it’s further proof that what looks douchey on a cis dude can look adorable on a queer, in that adorable-cocky queer sort of way. Make an oversized gift tag and hang it around your neck. Add a shiny bow. Have your wingwoman dress up as a UPS worker and hand you off to babes.


The thing that is both super fun and wildly irritating about hanging out with twenty-somethings is the whole 90s nostalgia thing. It’s caused way too many themed college parties where I have gotten way too drunk and been photographed in way too awkward positions while dressed as Fox Mulder. You’ll probably see a lot of 90s nostalgia costumes this year, and they will either be totally awesome or totally tedious. This one is particularly easy because you probably already own three of the four items. Also, this costume just turns out really, really cute on queers. I don’t know what it is, but lesbians look freaking adorable in striped shirts and beanies. Add glasses? Porn, it’s legit porn. Throw in a cane and boom, you’re Waldo. Every time you run into a babe, grin and say “you found me,” and make sure you have a cute prize waiting. Note: if the prize is making out with you, that is cool, too.

Workout Paul Ryan

Pay homage to the glory that is Paul Ryan’s workout portraits with this costume. Grey t-shirt, running shorts and hiked up socks with athletic sneakers. If you’re like me and typically run from the gym as if you’ve seen the Dark Mark, you might have to borrow these from a friend, but I guarantee someone you know owns these items. Add a dumbbell (make your own with cardboard and toilet paper tubes, or carry around a 5 pound weight so you look awesome for your hangover) and armband for your iPod, and you’re looking radical, dude. Make sure you stay hydrated, and if you run into a Joe Biden costume, drink six glasses of water.

The Gay Agenda

Make a list of everyday activities, including the part of your day where you make war against the institution of marriage and destroy traditional values, and pin it to your t-shirt. Bonus points if the shirt is pink and therefore extra gay.

Lesbian Who Looks Like Justin Bieber / Dani Shay

Since Justin Bieber continues to evolve into an even more lesbian version of himself, you don’t really need to do anything for this costume put turn up your swaggie. I suggest a purple hoodie so people recognize you, but just walk around like a cocky teenage boy and you’re set. Also, are you Justin Bieber or are you Dani Shay? Are they secretly the same person? Does it matter? It doesn’t matter because you can post it to Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber later and get mad tumblr pussy.

Bonus: me and Justine in our matching Kelly Kapowski shirts last year. Swaggie.

Lazy, broke, or busy queers, what are you wearin’ this Halloween? Fill me in, kids.

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Full-time writer, part-time lover, freelancing in fancy cheese and cider.

Kate has written 130 articles for us.


  1. These costumes are good enough to make me reconsider my costume….

    I’m going as G.I. Jane. Buzzed head was a dead give-away.

    • Whoa! That’s an awesome idea. Are you going full-on cardboard cylinder or T-shirt, hat and leggings combo?

      • I’m going “able to sit down” route, meaning decorated white Goodwill dress and round styrofoam headband shindig. We’ll see how it goes… omg can there be an Autostraddle Halloween costume gallery??

  2. Meanwhile, I’ve dropped about $150 on materials for the Galadriel costume I’m working on. (I could have spent less, but there was this magnificent crepe-backed satin I just *had* to have for the cloak.)

    I’ll be stuck at home handing out treats anyway, so there’s no need to worry about the thing getting destroyed. (And then I can wear it to the Hobbit premiere. My girlfriend plans to attend as Smaug, and it shall be glorious.)

  3. Ugh the dude who did “God’s gift to women” at my high school was a finalist in the costume contest for it. To be fair, though, he actually did put some effort into his costume, making himself like a jack-in-the-box coming out of a present box, not just using a ribbon and a tag. But still.

  4. eee next week is the best week ever. I love dressing up. Murder Mystery on Monday (dapper Japanese ambassador,) actual Halloween, and scary movie night with friends on Saturday. Three costumes! Four if I wear something during the day on Wednesday. Thinking about the Gay Agenda, Wally (different names in different countries, that’s how he stays under the radar) or God’s Gift to Women – although I’m not sure if I’m quite confident enough for that one.

  5. Tonight I am going to buy a bottle of wine and create my binder full of women costume! I am not really all that artsy fartsy but I think I have a pretty stellar planimal. The wonders of duct tape, recycled fiberboard, a trip to office depot, and glitter…always glitter.

    • One of my best guy friends is trying to order a Big Bird suit, and I told him that if it comes/I have the time, I’ll be his binder of (boi) women since we have nearly all of our classes together.

      Also, now that I think of it, “binders full of butches” is a tumblr that really needs to happen. Someone should get on that, stat.

      • A Big Bird suit!! I respect his commitment to the costume. A binder full of women would be a perfect companion.

  6. I’m stuck doing the last minute thing too, so I think I’m going as Liz Lemon. My plan is jeans, flannel shirt, slouchy cardigan, and glasses. I’m also going to have a bag of Cheetos and make a “Sabor de Soledad” label for them. Any thoughts on other easy accessories I can use to make it clear who I am?

  7. Almost decided on the Biebs, but my coworkers said I wasn’t trying hard enough .

    Instead I’m gonna be Megan Rapinoe – I’ve truly outgayed myself.

  8. Going as Buffy and the girlfriend is going as Spike. Her costume is PERFECT and she just bleached her hair last night. She could easily go as Draco Malfoy now, too, with the hair. I’m sort of jealous.

  9. I’m wearing my old lab coat and black rimmed glasses and leaving it up to others to decide what I am : doctor, scientist, or pharmacist.

    • or, my favorite, a ghost costume with some rainbow accessories = apparitional lesbian (anassa kata, terry castle)

  10. This grad student here really appreciates the queer temporality costume, just saying. It reminds me of how last year I went as a ‘freudian slip’ and stuck a bunch of freudian psychology terms onto a chemise. No one got it.

  11. The goodwill gods epically failed me today, but I think I can manage a workout Paul Ryan costume. I’m just not sure if I can make that stupid face he did in those pics…

    I also really like Denay’s Liz Lemon idea!

  12. My friends and I are doing characters from Rocky Horror. Being Frank-n-furter is perfect because I get to wear lingerie in public but am still rocking a queer costume so can feel gently legit. And my best friend is being Rocky so may or may not go out in just a gold bikini. So excited!

    • awesome!! my university does rocky horror every year on the eve of halloween, best night of the year :)

    • Heck yes, Rocky Horror! I send you good Halloween wishes, from one Frank-N-Furter to another.
      (I’m in a street band and basically use wacky lingerie plus my gig clothes to build all my Halloween costumes, so the only extra supplies I need are makeup and a necklace.)

  13. I’m gonna be Carrie Brownstein’s Women and Women first bookstore owner character because i found the entire outfit for like $15 at a thrift store, already own birkenstocks, and get to label my bookshelves things like “Queer Horror” for my house party.

    • I hadn’t thought of Portlandia costumes… that’s hilarious! You’ll get to say ridiculous things throughout the night too.

  14. I already own a pair of blue coveralls, so I just need to get a red bandana so I can be Rosie the Riveter. Admit it – you’re jealous.

    • Rosie the Riveter is one of my costumes, too!
      You can get red polkadot fabric at a craft store and make your own bandanna!

  15. Thank you! This is exactly the type of “last minute costume” ideas I needed! Every other site was like “just go out and buy a $200 costume real quick!” haha
    I’m officially going as the gay agenda (and next weekend as Skrillex, because I have the haircut and glasses lol)

    • That sounds so good! Now I’m thinking about doing something similar for the 80s and calling it “80s revival”

    • Yep, doing the 50 Shades of Grey as well. Grey shoes, socks, pants, shirt, button down shirt, hoodie, ball cap, and flogger (if I can find the damn thing!!) Might run and get cheapy handcuffs too.

  16. I have a meeting that afternoon at work, so I’m wearing my beige suit, and making an owl mask as suggested in another post just to show my office I can be fun too :-)

  17. My roommate and I are going as Amon and Korra, respectively, from the Legend of Korra. I tried to get my girlfriend to go as Asami so we could be a slash fiction, but no dice :(

  18. My costumes are generic 80’s person (I found this amazing neon color block blazer at St. Vincent’s for like $5, paired cutoff mini skirt and leggings with neon socks)
    and Rosie the Riveter.

    I need another costume for my students Halloween party though. Something kids would recognize? I’m thinking a Ninjago costume.

  19. I went as charlie chaplin a few years ago, and no one got it. I even had little silent movie slides on cardboard that said trick or treat and thank you. It was a great costume though.

    • In university a friend of mine dressed as Edgar Allan Poe complete with a copy of the Raven, but unfortunately everyone just kept giving her dirty looks and asking why she thought it was appropriate to dress as Hitler. Considering we spent an hour in the library, in costume, before heading out it was pretty disappointing that no one at all seemed to recognize her.

  20. Late last night, I vaguely remember someone saying they were going to put a band-aid on their elbow and write ‘Honey’ across it… So they would be Honey Boo-Boo.

    That’s pretty damn affordable.

  21. I’m going as Chell (Portal 2). I have the tanktop, and I made the gun and boot covers out of cardboard and duct tape, so when I go out and get myself some orange pants I will be all set.

  22. Okay, so I have a problem. I put on a backwards hat for my Paul Ryan costume, but my hair’s at a weird length and I just look like a baby lesbian from the ’90s. And that isn’t a costume…

  23. Totally being Mrs Lovett, the pie maker from Sweeney Todd. It’s a good think I’m in love with Helena Bonham Carter… and lace for that matter. ;)

  24. My partner and I are going as Toni and Candace from the Women + Women First Bookstore sketch from Portlandia. Cher Wig + Zombie Lady Wig + thrift store finds = SPOT ON (and cheap) costumes!

  25. I was an amethyst fairy and my very patient dog was a rainbow fairy. My costume was a clearance prom dress and a pair of bejeweled wings from a couple Halloweens ago. My dog’s costume was a tiny pair of wings and a tutu. The whole ensemble came to maybe $15.

  26. going as Mal from Firefly. I already own the suspenders, (tight)pants, and shirt, so I only had to spend $12 on a toy pistol and thrift-store-bought brown coat. tried to convince my gf to go as Inara or Zoe, but no dice…

  27. You people are making me jealous that I scrapped my plans for a Sexy Mitt Romney costume after someone outbid me for an American flag sequin bra on eBay. My backup plans are nowhere near as fun.

  28. Now I almost want to ditch my current costume idea to dress up as Waldo! Oh well. I’m going as Thor, but I’m too broke to get the whole costume so I’m just wearing a plastic helmet replica with a red hoodie

  29. My Paul Ryan costume was a hit you guys.
    I made a dumbbell out of a giant pop tart box but it broke because so many people were dancing close together.
    It was good though. And I’m more than a little drunk and/or high so I don’t know much. I definitely got compliments.

    • True life: I don’t remember writing this comment. I guess I’ve moved on from drunk texting to drunk ‘straddling.

  30. I was going to go as the tenth doctor, but couldn’t find a Janis Joplin coat anyhwere. and my hair is basically, david tennant minus sideburns. I was gonna be the queerest timelord/lady evarrrr weh

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