Still haven't decided what to be this year for Halloween? There's some time left to put together a costume that's clever, culturally relevant, and on the cheap. Check out some of our creative Halloween costumes — from Breaking Bad to popular memes — that won't break the bank.
VMA Miley: Because You Can't Escape It
It's sad but true that more people are going to be dressed up as Miley Cyrus this year than at the height of her Hannah Montana fame, despite impassioned pleas from pop-culture columnists. This costume is inevitable, and if you can't beat 'em, join 'em by re-creating her infamous MTV Video Music Awards look with those teddy bear-inspired hair knots. For an authentic look, pair this bear graphic tank ($24.30 with $5.99 s&h, a low by $3) with existing shorts or a bathing suit. You can also make your own Miley outfit with a gray tank ($3.99 with free shipping via Shop Your Way Max, a low by $5), glue-on Googly eyes ($3.43 with free shipping, a low by $2), and fabric markers ($5.45 with free shipping, a low by $1). Complete your look with a foam party finger ($11.97 with $6.99 s&h, a low by $1). Winking and sticking out your tongue is free, as is twerking... if you don't think about the costs to your dignity.
Miley Companion Costumes
Miley's Halloween companions come in many shapes and sizes, including her VMA partner in crime Robin Thicke. To mimic his Beetlejuice-like getup opt for a repurposed Beetlejuice costume ($45.43 with free shipping via Shop Your Way Max, a low by $3), paired with aviator sunglasses ($3.26 with free shipping, a low by $2), and you're done. Alternatively, pink bear ears/hats are hard to come by for adults, so a costume that depicts one of Miley's fuzzy backup dancers might require a bit more work. You can take this polar bear hat ($29.99 with $6.99 s&h) and use pink fabric dye ($4.25 with free shipping, a low by $2). Or get crafty and create your own bear outfit with a pink hooded sweatshirt (from $15.99 with free shipping via Shop Your Way Max), pink felt for ears, and two of the aforementioned glue-on eyes.
Alternatively, you could play the part of one of Miley's cat-fight foes. In case you haven't heard, Cyrus and Sinead O'Connor have been engaged in a war of words, so you could opt to the be the Irish singer and don a bald cap ($9.21 with $2.99 s&h, a low by $1) and a black turtleneck ($11.99 with free shipping via Shop Your Way Max, a low by $5) for her "Nothing Compares 2U" look. Cyrus has also received an open letter from Sufjan Stevens about her lyrical use of "laying" instead of "lying." This is an easy costume if you already look like the indie singer/songwriter type; just put on your everyday clothes and wear a "Grammar Police" button ($3 with $1.25 s&h, a low by $1).
Breaking Bad Costumes: Are You a Walter White or a Heisenberg?
While "Mad Men" has long dominated Halloween, this year is all about another AMC show: "Breaking Bad," which had its series finale a few weeks ago. And speaking of pink bears — no spoilers here — you can easily make your backup dancer costume into the mysterious half-charred pink bear with the missing eye that's a teaser through Season Two of the show. If you're going the DIY route, simply leave off the one eye on your bear hoodie and use some black paint ($8 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5) to make your face and arm look charred. This faux fur animal hat ($19.99 with free shipping) or faux hood with long arms ($22.99 with free shipping) could also work to achieve the sad "Breaking Bad" bear look. Plus, they're cute enough to wear all winter.
In order to pass as lead character Walter White, you may need the bald cap mentioned above and White's beard, which you can cultivate yourself, draw on with face paint, or glue on ($4.99 with $3.99 s&h, a low by $3). Once you have the hair (or lack thereof) right, you'll also need glasses ($9.85 with $5.11 s&h, a low by $4) befitting a high school chemistry teacher. But who wouldn't want to be Walt's alter-ego, Heisenberg? To go the bad-boy route opt for these sunglasses ($14.24 with free shipping, a low by $1) and, of course, his porkpie hat($24.99 with free shipping, a low by $5). Wear with a button-up shirt and khaki pants, with a black or tan jacket. Complete the look with blue rock candy ($12.55 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $1), just like the prop department used on the show.
Should you decide to be twitchy sidekick Jesse Pinkman, make sure to don a hoodie — like this plaid one ($26.24 with free shipping via Shop Your Way Max, a low by $9) — and a striped beanie ($16.14 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $4). Accessorize with Funyons.
Government Shutdown Costumes
A Halloween costume that references the shutdown will surely amuse your friends this year. For a quick and easy option, pair this Sorry, We're Closed sign ($2.20 with $3.25 s&h, a low by $4) with this Uncle Sam hat($3.99 with $4.99 s&h, a low by $3), and revel in the delight on your fellow partygoers' faces as they figure out the joke. You can also go the groanworthy play-on-words route and take the old ceiling fan costume concept and make it into a debt ceiling fan costume. You'll need cheerleader pom poms ($6.99 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $3), a plain tee, and a fabric marker to write "Debt Ceiling" across the chest.
Meme Costumes: Digital Jokes IRL
Tired of those ubiquitous memes, like condescending Willy Wonka? At least everyone will know who you are when you show up in a purple Wonka hat ($7.95 with $4.33 s&h, a low by $18) and make irritating comments. Or wear your witticisms with a dry erase board ($13.10 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $1). The board can be used with another meme costume, such as the turn-of-the-century woman. Aside from getting the hair pinned up right, you'll need a cocktail glass ($3.95 with free shipping, a low by $1) and an exasperated look. You can find Victorian-style blouses on eBay, or opt for this chiffon blouse ($15 with $5.95 s&h, a low by $15).
For a slightly more surreal take on a meme, consider becoming one of the chicks with Steve Buscemi eyes. Simply print out some Buscemi eyes and paste them over costume glasses ($2.90 with free shipping, a low by $1). Just be sure to cut two slits in the paper to see through! Alternatively, follow these instructions to create your own cat breading costume. You'll need chair cushion foam ($11.99 with $5.95 s&h, a low by $11), tan felt, and black face paint or eyeliner ($1.99 with free shipping via Shop Your Way Max, a low by $3).
Put a twist on a dog costume ($9.60 with free shipping via Prime) and be a shamed dog. Just make a cardboard sign or use a dry erase board to write an admission, like "I love cats." Or get crafty and make your own puppy ears with felt and a fabric-covered headband.
Gravity Costumes: Because Even Your Parents Saw It
With Gravity at the top of the box office, there will surely be a lot of astronauts this Halloween. Channel Sandra Bullock or George Clooney with this astronaut costume ($31.98 with free shipping, a low by $8), or spring for this moon man version ($39.30 with free shipping, a low by $6) and score an astronaut helmet.
Prefer the DIY approach? Take instructions for a child's astronaut costume and adapt them for an adult. Among the things you'll need that you may not have on hand are: a white plastic bucket ($3.97 with free in-store pickup), white foam board ($3.25 with $5.95 s&h), a a blind sport mirror ($1.98 with in-store pickup, a low by $2),white duct tape ($6.51 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $6), sticky-back Velcro ($5.16 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $5), American flag stickers ($2.49 with free shipping, a low by $2), plastic tubing ($8.41 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $4), and a utensil tray ($13.99 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $9).
You'll also need women's or men's white sweatpants ($8.99 with $5.99 s&h, a low by $2), as well as a woman's white turtleneck (see Sinead costume entry) or a man's white turtleneck ($17.99 with free shipping a low by $1). Just keep an eye out for the Miley Cyrus crowd, who may mistake you for an MTV Moonman award. And now we've come full circle.
Need more inspiration? Check out more Halloween deals on costumes, décor, and more!
Josie Rubio is a contributing writer to Dealnews.com, where this article first appeared: http://dealnews.com/features/From-Walter-White-to-VMA-Miley-Pop-Culture-Halloween-Costumes-Under-50/880451.html