DIY or Buy Character Costumes of the Risen Dead!
Ghosts are one of the 5 or so most traditional and popular choices for Halloween dressing up, and it is a suitable option for every member of the family. It's also ideal as a last-minute costume DIY - with the classic 'bed sheet over your head' idea!
There are a few ways of dressing up as a ghost despite the obvious and I have outlined the different characters you can choose below. I have provided video how-tos and lots of tutorials too, including those for making costumes, shackles and other props from scratch, plus demonstrations of face paint and makeup designs.
I hope you find this page useful :)
Information About The Different Parts of a Ghost Costume
There are basically three options for dressing as a ghost:
1) A classic white ghost, possibly with the addition of chains/shackles:
This is the most popular type of ghost costume you will see, and is usually created by just throwing a bed sheet over someone's head with eye holes cut out (perfect for last minute Halloween parties!) Shackles can be added in the style of the ghost of Jacob Marley from Charles' Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' if you wish.
If it's a bit awkward to have the sheet over your head, you can have the sheet over your body, or wear a white robe/cloak, together with a mask. For babies and toddlers you could buy/make a white all-in-one outfit and then either paint a ghost face in black onto the front, or sew on a black felt face. Glow-in-the-dark paint can add fun details to your costume too.
2) A ghost character from TV, a book, a game or a movie:
Dressing as a recognizable ghost can be easier and more fun because you can choose a character you personally like, plus you will have access to specific images and descriptions of the character's clothes for inspiration. There are quite a few possible options to choose from:
- Harry Potter has many ghost characters including Nearly Headless Nick, The Gray Lady, The Bloody Baron and Peeves
- A human form of ghost such as Patrick Swayze in 'Ghost' or SPOILER Bruce Willis in 'Sixth Sense'.
- Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future from 'A Christmas Carol'
- Ghostbusters ghosts e.g. the ghost in the logo and the green ghoul 'Slimer'.
- Casper the friendly ghost - a cute choice for kids
- Beetlejuice - black and white striped suit and a mad wig
- 'Scream' knife-wielding murderer - although not technically a ghost, the character does wear a ghost mask and is a horror movie villain so is perfect for Halloween.
- A ghost from the Pacman game - choose from Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde!
3) A dead character that you have made 'ghostly':
This is where you choose a genre of person, a particular era or a non-specific character to transform into a ghost e.g. a ghost pirate, ballerina, bride, a Tudor King of England, Disney princess, Victorian, cowboy, Viking...whatever you like! This is a great way of making any character costume much more spooky and better suited to Halloween.
To make a character look ghostly you should try to ONLY use shades of gray and white, including for your make-up and hair/wig. This gives a brilliant desaturated effect that will turn heads at a party for sure. Think white/gray suits, shoes, accessories...everything! If you want to add blood splatters for instance - for a bit of added gore - then use splatters of dark gray paint rather than red to fit into the theme.
Floaty fabrics, especially tulle/gauze/lace/cheesecloth/woven fabrics and meshes are a good idea because they are thin and have a bit of transparency which adds to the ghostly look. Try not to have neat seams on the edges of these fabrics - maybe unravel them a bit - to give a more mysterious look. Shredded fabric and fabric strips hanging off the costume also look effective.
Make up: This nearly always consists of a pale or white face and dark eyes. When face painting kids, usually the face is white and the eyes are black circles, or you can paint on ghost outlines. Some people also go for a more skeletal look.
Hair: It would probably be easier to wear either a hood or sheet over your head, or buy a white/gray wig, however you can also temporarily color your hair. There are colored hairsprays available, and also baby powder/flour can go some way to whitening hair although it is messy. There are specialist hair whiteners that are available as a liquid that you brush into your hair too - which you'll probably only find in theatrical makeup shops.
Props: Apart from shackles, you could also add talcum powder for a dusty effect, fake spiders and cobwebs, or maybe carry around an old fashioned candle/candlestick.
Traditional Ghost Costumes for Kids & Adults
These 3 outfits are options for the classic white ghost look:
DIY Costumes Video Tutorials & Ideas
How To Make a Ghost Costume
- Easy Stencilled Costumes
With a painted face design and a tutu for the girls.
- Gray Lady Ghost Costume
An elegant bride costume with lacy white face paint.
- Kid's Sweatshirt Costume
Plus making a pointy hat and a mask.
- Funny Ghostbusters Outfit
This one is my favorite because it's a great imitation of the famous logo.
- Giant Ghost Cape
A cape tutorial for a last-minute DIY - made from white sheets.
- Headless Marie Antoinette
An impressive and eye-catching costume idea for headless ghosts.
- Pillowcase Ghost Dress
Cute dress costume for girls.
- No-Sew Tulle Cloak
Floaty and mysterious outfit made completely from layers of tulle.
- Pacman Ghosts
A fun retro twist on the ghost theme.
- Oogie Boogie Costume
Fantastic burlap fancy dress that glows in the dark!
- Beetlejuice Suit
DIY pinstripes made by spray painting a white suit.
Classic Kid's Ghost Costume
You can buy traditional ghost masks, character masks like the 'Scream' or Beetlejuice mask, or you can go for the face paint/makeup route. Either way, there are some great options available.
DIY Props Plus Makeup & Face Paint Tutorials
- Rusted Shackles
Made from a plastic chain and packing tube.
- Pipe Insulation Chains
Simple and clever way to make fake chains.
- PVC Pipe Shackles
Lightweight plastic shackles and chains prop.
- Scary Frizzy Hair
a fun and wild effect for lots of different Halloween characters.
- Make Your Hair Look Gray
Use flour or baby powder to change your hair temporarily ghostly.
- Marie Antoinette Hair
How to create the elegant hairstyle and makeup.
- Bride of Frankenstein
Create a high updo using a Styrofoam cone technique.
- Kid's Face Paint
Tutorial for painting a ghost design.
- Creepy Ghost Makeup
Pale face and dark eyes is the classic ghostly look.
- Sinister Make Up
With added blood effects.
Ghostly Gentleman Costume
Smart and detailed men's outfit with a pirate-style hat, white jacket, vest and matching pants. Good quality and will last for many fancy dress parties.
Gray & White Wigs, Elbow Length Gloves and Hats
To complete the ghostly look you will need white or gray hair, and a wig is the best and easiest way of achieving this. Other accessories you could add on include white top hats and elegant long gloves. White satin is a great choice for ladylike accessories because it has a nice glow about it.
Here are some of the top-rated choices: