7 Halloween Costume Ideas using Thrift Store Finds and Things You Already Have

Halloween is an opportunity to have fun and dress up, yes, but it also show others who and what you are passionate about. Depending on your plans for the holiday, you might very well end up in a conversational opportunity where you will be asked about your costume and why you chose it in the first place.

Why not use it as an opportunity to share stories of amazing women in history?

This Halloween, I chose 7 powerful women to build costumes for. In this post I put together a list for the things you need to put together these costumes too. My hope is that you are able to gather items from around your home or purchase them secondhand from the thrift stores in order to bring your character to life.

I encourage you to read the little bio I wrote up for each of the women so you are able to connect with the women of your culture.

This year, I am going to try to be Frida Kahlo.

Pro Tip: the best way to find a costume is to go shopping outside of the season when the prices are much better. I find stores tend to capitalize on the odd thrifted pieces shoppers may be looking for their costumes.

Frida Kahlo

Who Was Frida Kahlo?

Friday started painting in 1925, while recuperating from a near-fatal bus accident that depleted her energy and put her on a lifelong path of physical strain. Her output over the next 30 years was relatively small, but of high quality. It was in her paintings that Kahlo explored, questioned, and acted out her self and identity over and over again. It was common for her to draw on painful episodes from her own life, such as the health issues she suffered and the tension she faced with her romantic partner Diego Rivera.

What you need to make a Frida Kahlo Halloween Costume

  • Flowers for a flower crown

  • Big earrings and a statement necklace

  • Braided hair. There are lots of tutorials on how to recreate the hairstyle.

  • A colourful shall

  • eyebrow pencil

  • colorful dress

  • red lipstick

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

Throughout her life, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was invincible against adversity. When she was appointed to the Supreme Court, she unified the liberal wing and fought gender discrimination. It is no secret that Justice Ginsburg was a force to reckon with, and those who doubted her ability to thoroughly fulfill her duty should only consider her record in oral arguments, where she was among the most engaged parties on the bench until the day of her death.

What do you need to make a Ruth Bader Ginsburg Halloween Costume?

  • judge robe

  • lace collar

  • green earrings

  • a scrunchy

  • glasses

  • Hair in a bun

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Ocasio-Cortez was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. In doing so, she became the youngest woman elected to Congress in the nation's history at age 29. Alexandra is affectionately known by her initials nickname 'AOC.' The first thing that AOC did upon being elected was begin advocating for healthcare for all and the fight against climate change. She has since become quite a celebrital figure and household name. 

What do you need to make an Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Halloween Costume?

  • Black blazer

  • Black dress

  • Red lipstick

  • Straight long hair or wig

  • pearl earrings

Rosie the Riveter


Who was Rosie the Riveter?

Rosie the Riveter gained fame during World War II for her role as a symbol of women's independence and their participation in the workforce. The middle class was recruited to help with war production needs. In light of the fact that many of the women in this study had never worked outside the home, and that they also had children, the government had to not only convince them to work, but also provide means for them to provide for their families. In order to do so, the U.S. War Office produced various materials for women to encourage them to engage in war efforts as part of their patriotic duty.

What do you need to make Rosie the Riveter Halloween Costume?

  1. Red polka dots scarf or bandana

  2. A blue shirt with rolled sleeves

  3. Red Lipstick

  4. 40’s makeup



Who was Cleopatra?

Historically, Cleopatra is the most famous woman known both for her beauty and intellect, as well as for her love affairs with several notable men; including Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. From movies to literary works, to art, to print, Cleopatra has been immortalized throughout history. Throughout history, countless tales have been told about her, including by Shakespeare. Cleopatra was among the most famous rulers of all time and the last independent pharaoh of Egypt. 

What do you need to make a Cleopatra Halloween Costume?

  • A wig with black medium-length hair, straight hair and bangs.

  • Hair jewelry - the bigger the better

  • a statement necklace similar to the picture

  • eyeliner

Ada Lovelace

Who was Ada Lovelace?

During the mid-1800s, Ada Lovelace, wrote an algorithm for a computing machine earning her the distinction of "the first computer programmer." Her mother believed that rigorous study would prevent the development of her temperament like her father. 

She theorized the fundamental shift from computation to calculation to having machines that could manipulate symbols in accordance with rules. It was she who first realized what computers could do outside of mathematics.

What do you need to make an Ada Lovelace Halloween Costume?

  • yellow flowers

  • headband

  • a specific hairstyle

  • a thrifted black dress

marie curie.jpg

Marie Curie

Who was Marie Curie?

Maries Curie is a French physicist who conducted research on radioactivity and won two Nobel Prizes. In her time, Marie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize. Till today she is still the only person to win two Nobel prizes in two different science fields. Marie discovered radium and polonium and contributed to finding treatments for cancer. She died from radiation, which caused her body to stop producing white cells.

What do you need to make a Marie Curie Halloween Costume?

Honestly, you can rarely find the iconic collar and the dress at the thrift store but I thought it was worth mentioning this AMAZING woman. You can find the whole costume at HalloweenCostumes.ca

  • the iconic collar

  • glass test tubes (you can write the symbols for radium and polonium on them)

  • a black long dress

  • hair in a bun

Hey, Claudia here

I am a senior graphic designer, a dog mom, an advocate for a zero-waste lifestyle, climate change, and sustainability. My articles are based on personal experience and well researched to give you the best source of information for all things zero-waste.


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