FEMALE BOOK CHARACTER COSTUMES
Monsters, pirates or maids, witches, or a favorite fairy tale character are often the costumes of choice at this time of year, but what about us book fans? Can we think of something a little more imaginative?
With Halloween weeks away, I wanted to do a fun post about some literary female character costume ideas and the female literary characters I think would be good fun to dress up as for Halloween.
(If I ever had the time to do anything other than don a witch hat and a wand and was actually good with a sewing needle. But, hey, there’s always Etsy!)
When I was growing up, my costume choices were much more inventive, and I tended to favor characters from the movies. Even then, my costumes were of characters initially found in literature.
Looking back, my favorite book character costume was Scarlett from Gone with the Wind. My grandmother kindly made it for me when I was eleven.
But being an adult shouldn’t stop us from dressing up in equally creative costumes. Here are just 30 ideas from literature (sometimes adapted on the big and small screen) that would make some great adult costumes of beloved book characters!
As a bonus, in the end, I’ve also included an extra 20 ideas for Halloween costumes for girls from popular children’s books.
So, be creative, use your imagination (the character doesn’t have to look like the movies either), and let me know what favorite book characters you would love to dress up as for Halloween!
(Note: This article was first published in 2013 and updated for September 2022.)
A LITERARY HALLOWEEN: FEMALE BOOK CHARACTERS TO DRESS UP AS
(In No Particular Order)
#1: Tally from The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
I would go with her look from The Specials because the makeup is weirdly beautiful and unusual. Overall, the dystopian makeup look would be a total standout. Plus, what better time now that there is finally an adaptation in the works?
#2: The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia
Who doesn’t want to dress up as a gorgeous, cold villain from time to time? It’s the perfect costume.
#3: Anne Shirley from The Anne of Green Gables Book Series
Young or old, you can try Anne’s different looks depending on her age. And, with several adaptations, there are so many costumes to choose from! It’s a classic costume and a fun choice.
#4 Emily Byrd Starr from Emily of New Moon
While not as familiar as Anne Shirley, dressing up as another fabulous L.M. Montgomery heroine would be fun. It would be a cute costume, for sure.
#5: Eowyn from Lord of the Rings
“Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld Éowyn, Lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood.”
I would personally go for the movie’s look since they captured Eowyn perfectly.
#6: Galadriel from Lord of the Rings or another elf like Arwen
The elves have such beautiful, elegant looks that this would be an excellent choice for Halloween, especially if you’re going to a Halloween party.
#7: Mulan from Legends
Why not dress up as the legendary Mulan? Of course, you can always use the new movie as inspiration!
#8: Elizabeth or Jessica Wakefield from Sweet Valley High (1980s style, of course)
My sister and I should have done this when we were teenagers! But seriously, there should be some identical twins out there who could try this fun literary female character costume idea.
It’s an easy costume for twins, sisters, or best friends, especially if you’re interested in dressing up as blonde book characters.
#9: Elizabeth Bennet or any Other Jane Austen Heroine
Austen heroines are some of the best female book characters out there. So, why not go as one for Halloween?
#10: Jane Eyre
“I had no article of attire that was not made with extreme simplicity.”
Make sure not to dress too extravagantly! See the best Jane Eyre adaptations for inspiration.
#11: Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter.
“On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A.”
This 17th-century literary female costume would be a real standout! Plus, the “A” would be an excellent clue to readers of classic literature.
#12: Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind
I would love to revisit this as an adult again! Because of her extravagant style, Scarlett O’Hara remains one of the best literary character costume ideas.
#13: Mary Poppins
Make sure not to forget the umbrella!
#14: Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games.
While Katniss is the more popular choice, Effie’s outfits and wigs are so outlandish in the books that you could have a blast coming up with something creative.
#15: Hermione Granger or another female Harry Potter character.
Choose Hermione from the movies or the play. Or, better yet, dress up as the villainous Bellatrix, the lovable Luna Lovegood, or the fan-favorite Professor McGonagall.
Harry Potter has been done a lot, but it never gets old. This female literary character costume idea also works out great because of all the premade clothes you can buy online.
Harry Potter works if you need to put together some last-minute Halloween costumes.
#16: Queen Guinevere from the King Arthur legends
So many adaptations and versions of the story that the ideas for a costume are endless! Not to mention, medieval gowns are stunning.
#17: Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald describes her often as wearing white with a string of pearls.
#18: Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s
I think the cat is an accessory necessity! I would also definitely go with the classic Audrey Hepburn black dress look.
#19: Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations
“I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its luster, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes.”
You can buy an old white dress at a vintage shop and have fun damaging it! Great Expectations truly is a good book with memorable characters like Miss Havisham.
#20: Lady Phryne Fisher From the Miss Fisher Detective Novels
If you’re looking for a stylish 1920s character, look no further than the fabulous and gorgeous Miss Fisher. Of course, the costumes from the TV Series are exceptional!
Overall, there are so many inspirational looks to choose from! It is such a fun costume if the idea of 1920s glamour excites you.
#21: The Lady of Shalott from the Alfred Tennyson poem
For inspiration, look at the gorgeous painting of the same name by John William Waterhouse. The Pre-Raphaelite picture is lovely and provides a good idea for the costume.
#22: A Handmaid from The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
It’s such a dramatic-looking costume and easy to put together. You can buy the outfit for cheap on Amazon. But all you need is a long red robe and a white bonnet.
#23: Buttercup from The Princess Bride by William Goldman
The movie adaptation has such gorgeous costumes it would be impossible not to be influenced by them. You could choose the white gown with the crown or the iconic red dress with the gold belt.
The latter is probably the easiest to replicate as numerous costume companies sell the outfit.
#24: Jo March from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women
A Civil War-era dress (which you can buy) would work. You could also try replicating one of the outfits from some famous adaptations. I particularly like Jo’s white dress in the 1994 film.
#25: Bridget Jones from Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding
If you want to be more authentic to the book, you can dress up in women’s work clothes from the mid- ’90s like a Jigsaw Pencil Skirt Suit.
Or you could look to the later movies for inspiration, from the red flannel pajamas to the ugly Christmas sweater to the bunny outfit or even some of her work outfits.
Just have fun with it! Don’t forget the diary accessory, though.
#26: Elphaba from Wicked by Gregory Maguire
If theater makeup is your jam, why not go as Elphaba? All you need is an Elphaba witch costume (they are buyable) and green makeup.
Honestly, any black witch outfit will do.
#27: Ella Enchanted from the book by Gail Carson Levine
This idea would easily work for kids or adults. But you can dress up in a medieval fantasy dress or get inspiration from the 2004 film – like in the photo above! This idea sets you apart from all the Disney princesses.
#28: Miss Marple from the Agatha Christie novels
Miss Marple would be such a unique idea! She wears 1950s-style clothes: usually neutral in color made from wool and flannel, often like a suit with a blouse.
With the outfit, you could carry a purse, wear a grey-colored wig (if you don’t have grey hair), and even a hat.
#29: Margaret Hale from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South
If you want to go as an original classic book character, consider Margaret Hale. She’s intelligent, passionate, and kind and gets to wear beautiful Victorian outfits.
The 2004 adaptation offers good inspiration. Check out this terrific article from All Things Hair about different types of Victorian hairdos for hairstyles.
#30: Heroines from William Shakespeare Plays Like Juliet
There are several female characters in Shakespeare’s works if literary plays are of interest. But Juliet in a gorgeous Renaissance dress is always a good choice.
BONUS: A FEW FEMALE BOOK CHARACTER COSTUMES FOR GIRLS! (#31-50)
While this list mainly focuses on female book character costumes for adults (or teens), we don’t want to leave out all the children in your life.
So, here are a few bonus ideas for all the little girls in your life. These choices come from picture books, children’s books, and teen books.
- #31 Fancy Nancy from the picture books by Jane O’Connor. (How adorable would this be? Pink tutu, colorful striped tights, and all. The costume is easy to buy on places like Etsy.)
- #32 Dorothy Gale from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. (Or any character from the books and movie adaptation. They make for easy book character costumes for the whole family! And these costumes are easy to buy.)
- #33 Child and teen characters from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins like Katniss Everdeen or Rue. (A Hunger Games character would be perfect for tweens and teens.)
- #34 Female characters from Dr. Seuss like Sally Walden from The Cat in the Hat or Cindy Lou Who from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Costumet provides a simple tutorial for how to put together the Sally Walden costume.
- #35 Amelia Bedelia from the books by Amelia Bedelia. This would be an adorable costume! Adults could do this one too. See Halloweencostumes.com for How to Make an Amelia Bedelia costume.
- #36 The Baby-sitters Club Characters: Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, Dawn, Mallory, Jessi, Abby, or Shannon. (These costumes are great ideas for tweens wanting to dress up with their best friends.)
- #37 Fairy Tale Book characters like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Snow White.
- #38 Pippi Longstocking from the books by Astrid Lindgren: If you want to choose a different book character with bright red hair, Pippi makes a unique choice! Plus, you can find all the accessories you need on Amazon.
- #39 Tiana from the Princess and the Frog Disney book. She’s such a fun character for girls to dress up as – especially when wearing the green gown!
- #40 Alice in Wonderland – because it’s a go-to classic!
- #41 Nancy Drew – For all your mystery-loving, adventurous kids. A wool pleated skirt, handheld magnifier, a simple top, a flashlight, and a headband are all you need! If you want to stay true to the original 1930s series, you can find a dress suitable to that time period and keep the magnifying glass and flashlight.
- #42 Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie. For this, you can sew a prairie girl outfit and bonnet or buy one online. And then wear some pioneer-style boots.
- #43 Matilda from the Roald Dahl book. She’s such a fun character little girls everywhere love. See this straightforward tutorial on putting together a Matilda costume.
- #44 Lucy Pevensie (or Susan) from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. (A Renaissance-style dress or Medieval princess outfit would work. And then you can add accessories like a cloak and a fake dagger.)
- #45 Ramona Quimby (or Beezus) from the books by Beverly Cleary. Think short, bobbed hair, overalls, and red shiny Hunter Wellies.
- #46 Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. Be creative! There are many ways to make a spider costume. Check out eHow for a few ideas. You can also buy adorable spider costumes!
- #47 Violet Baudelaire from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. To match the look from the TV series, check out a DIY tutorial from the Costume Realm.
- #48 Kit Tyler from The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. To look like the character on the book cover, all you need is a pilgrim costume!
- #49 Sara Crewe from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. For a fancier outfit, you want to go with an Edwardian-style dress. Maid-like attire also works if you want somethiexng easier.
- #50 Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Wear a white Edwardian tea dress (or any Edwardian outfit) and ribbons in the hair. I would add flowers or gardening accessories to the dress or hair for a nice touch.
What famous female book characters do you wish you could dress up as for Halloween? Do you have a favorite character you’d love to pretend to be? Sound off below…
Photo: Pride and Prejudice. Credit: BBC
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