The Flavorpill Guide to DIY Pop Culture Halloween Costumes: Books


Halloween: It’s always more complicated than you want it to be. Even if you’ve got your plans set, it’s a struggle to find the perfect costume — without resorting to the same crappy, overpriced, pre-packaged getups everyone else will be wearing. Thankfully, just as we have done for the past two Octobers, Flavorpill is helping you out with a series of easy DIY costume guides tackling various pop-culture realms. Don’t worry — there’s no sewing involved.

Last week, we took you through a few easy-as-pie options in the realm of television, giving our suggestions on channeling everyone from Hare Krishna Paul Kinsey to Evil Abed, but if you spend more time with your nose in a book than you do catching up on the latest shows (or just want to seem like you do), this week’s installment is or you. While we’re sure this Halloween will see its usual abundance of Poes and Plaths and Maxes from Where The Wild Things Are, we’ve put together a few slightly more original costume ideas inspired by the ups and downs of this year in the book world. Detailed instructions on how to channel a few authors, characters and even entire books after the jump.

50 Shades of Grey

Whatever you think of it, this book (or series of books, to be exact), has been the most talked about literary phenomenon this year. Though we could think up a few more scandalous ways to pay tribute to the “mommy porn” series, our super-simple and PG version is below.

The costume:

Shiny gray tie — $35, Sears Gray Venetian mask — $18, Ebay Handcuffs — $25, Harry’s Army Surplus As many (or as few) other items of gray clothing you so desire Copious amounts of blush

Lena Dunham

The book world has been abuzz this past week with the news of Lena Dunham’s $3.7 million advance for her forthcoming book of advice. Some critics think Dunham totally deserves (and are incredibly jealous), others are scandalized by the extravagance (and are incredibly jealous) — whichever camp you fall into, you can feel a little less jealous for one night dressed up as Dunham covered in money.

The costume:

Pixie cut wig (if necessary) — $19, Amazon Ironic sweatshirt — thrift stores Play money to throw in the air/light on fire/affix to your body — $4, The Learning Bug Whatever else you have on

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Wait, we hear you grumbling to yourself, is this a trick? There was no Pulitzer Prize in Fiction this year! Exactly. Show your disapproval by dressing as a totally existential non-existent award this holiday season.

The costume:

Black shirt — $10, Hanes Black leggings — $20, Hanes Black beret (optional) — $7, Halloween Costumes A disgruntled look on your face (not optional)

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Bret Easton Ellis’ Twitter

BEE has been on a veritable Twitter tear this year. He’s defended Paris Hilton’s ludicrously homophobic comments, taken shots at David Foster Wallace and his fans, and declared Matt Bomer too gay for a role in 50 Shades of Grey — and, though it was a while ago, let’s not forget the time he publicly celebrated J.D. Salinger’s death. Cool, bro.

The costume:

Wear whatever you want, just make sure you spend the evening saying the most obnoxious things can think of and then laughing into your drink.

Caesar Flickerman

Though The Hunger Games came out way back in 2008, this was the year everyone went gaga for it (big budget film adaptations will do that for you). Accordingly, we’re expecting quite a few Katnisses this year, so if you want to stand out from the pack, we suggest the much more fun (and morally questionable) Caesar Flickerman. In case you’ve been poisoned by the film and need a refresher, Flickerman sports a “coating of pure white makeup” and a spectacular sounding suit: “midnight blue dotted with a thousand tiny electric bulbs that twinkle like stars.” Then again, the Stanley Tucci version isn’t so bad.

The costume:

White face paint — $3, Party City Manic Panic in Voodoo Blue — $12, Be Wild Dark blue suit you can cut holes in — Found in any thrift store Micro lights to poke through the holes in your suit — $8, Sears

Cloud Atlas

Here’s another excellent book that has had a resurgence of popularity from a huge film adaptation. In an ode to the underlying thread that weaves through the book, and its glaringly obvious film version, if you don’t want to pick one mask to wear all night, you can always switch from color to color. Sure, it’s a conceptual costume, but we bet you’ll have some fun.

The costume:

Assorted color mask set — $17, Opentip

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Maria Semple’s hilarious novel also features one of the most graphically satisfying covers we’ve seen so far this year. Recreate it for an easy, comfortable and chic costume. Bonus: you can keep wearing it the next day to hide your hangover.

The costume:

Yellow headband — $16, Etsy Clip-on bangs — $22, Enormous round sunglasses — $14.95, Ebay Red lipstick — $15, MAC Anything in your closet that’s teal The commitment to wander around with your mouth open all evening (don’t worry, you can put food and drinks in it)

Cheryl Strayed on the PCT

If you want to be a total badass this Halloween — and be the best friend of everyone whose costume does not include pockets — we suggest channeling Cheryl Strayed circa 1995, when she hiked the PCT. Wild, her memoir about her journey, was so awesome and inspiring that Oprah resurrected her book club to give it a high five.

Hiking boots — $89, Zappos Hiking backpack — $35, Overstock Oprah Book Club 2.0 Sticker

Lucky Jim

The New York Review of Books Press has reissued two of Kingsley Amis’ best books this month, including the hilarious campus novel Lucky Jim, so we think it’s as good a time as any to dress up as our favorite blundering professor ever (except perhaps for Pnin). Scheming, often drunk, and unable to make up his mind, channeling ol’ Jim might not help you keep your job, but in the end, that might be a good thing.

Rumpled suit — thrift stores Professorly eyeglasses — $135, Ebay Lots and lots of sherry.

The Casual Vacancy

If you’re stumped, why not dress up as the most widely anticipated novel of the year? You could also go for a more conceptual look, say, “J.K. Rowling for adults” and sex up your favorite character from the Potter series, but that’s been done (we’re looking at you, Lev Grossman). Instead, try this simple look.

Red clothes from your closet

Yellow accessories from your closet

A big black marker to draw an X on your chest — $4, Staples