The pumpkin spice lattes have been poured. The sweaters have been layered. The football has been played. Fall’s in full swing — time to start stressing about what Halloween costume exists that you can actually afford to wear while still impressing your friends with just how damn topical and witty you are.
You’ve come to the right place.
We came up with 13 Philadelphia Halloween costumes, ranging from 2016 news events to sportsball references to timeless weird Philadelphia classics. We rounded up all the random shit we could find in our homes (shoutout to my roommate who contributed a sweatshirt screenprinted with cash), spent less than $60 total at WalMart and Goodwill, and tested out each of these 13 costumes on brave Billy Penn staff members.
This video has a quick rundown of each of the costumes we created:
And here’s everything you need to know about how we did it:
1. R.I.P. SEPTA Token
Total cost: $5
Possibly our *most* topical costume, this extremely simple Halloween wear celebrates a Philadelphia institution that’s fallen victim to technology. Sure, tokens are janky. They rattle around in your bag. Philly is one of the only major cities that still has yet to get rid of the things. But STILL. Nostalgia is a thing.
You can get your point across easily here. We printed out a SEPTA token on a piece of regular printer paper and stuck it to
Managing Editor Model Shannon Wink’s shirt. Then, we added zombie makeup that we scored at Five Below for, yes, five bucks. All I did — and trust me, I am no makeup artist — was dab black makeup around her eyes, paint the rest of her face white-ish and added bloody accents on her forehead, cheek and chin. I give you: A zombie with a SEPTA token. R.I.P. tokens.
2. The Wentz Wagon
Total cost: $3.99
Joe Biden’s on the Wentz Wagon. So is basically all of Philadelphia. We love this guy. Plaster his face on your body.
The only actual purchase we made here was the Eagles shirt my fellow reporter Mark Dent is wearing. That cost $3.99 at Goodwill. We printed out pictures of Carson Wentz’ face (and then more pictures of Carson Wentz’s face) and attached them to Mark’s body, as well as a wagon contributed by another staff member. This costume — which is perfect for parents trekking their kids around trick-or-treating — assumes you already own a wagon of some sort. Don’t? Try one of those personal grocery shopping carts you pull to and from Acme. That’ll do the trick.
3. Main Line Mom
Total cost: $4.99
Sorry in advance, moms from the Main Line. We just thought you were all so perfect when we saw you lined up here in the city for the Villanova championship parade. To make this outfit, I put on my best mom jeans, grabbed my largest purse, slid on some mom heels and added sunglasses. The only purchase made here was a plain, dark blue shirt I got from WalMart for $4.99. I printed out the ‘Nova championship logo, stuck it to my shirt, and stuffed my purse with Perrier and wine. Easy.
4. Johnny Doc
Total cost: $6.43
Shoutout to Dan McQuade at Philadelphia Magazine who nailed it when he broke down this now timeless get-up. Don’t remember what it’s referencing? This is from August, when Philadelphia union boss John Dougherty, AKA Johnny Doc, returned to his South Philly home to find it being raided by the FBI. He showed up looking like he just blew in from a very Philly cruise. This is the look we were going for:
Here’s what you need to make this happen: A white button-down shirt. A pair of khaki shorts (we got a pair for $2.99 at Goodwill). Flip-flops. And, most crucially, a white Sixers cap. None of us owned a white Sixers cap, and we weren’t about to drop 20 bucks buying one. So I picked up a plain white cap at WalMart for $3.44 and, yes, drew a Sixers logo on it. Frugality is key here, guys.
5. Medical marijuana
Total cost: $5.98
Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana this year. Celebrate by dressing as it. All we did was grab some scrubs from Goodwill, which totaled $5.98. I printed out some pot leaves that I could color in with a green marker, and then we taped them to Shannon’s body. Voila!
6. Soda tax
Total cost: Varies, but less than $10
Philadelphia this year became the first major American city to enact a soda tax. Show Mayor Jim Kenney you’re paying attention by dressing up as it for Halloween. Here, we used a sweatshirt covered in money. I took used soda cans and simply safety pinned them to Audience Development Manager Angie Nassar’s shirt. If you’re not awesome and don’t own this sweatshirt, this look could easily be created by wearing a plain shirt and also attaching a few dollar bills to it. Just try not to let people steal your cash money.
7. Zombie Chip Kelly
Total cost: $17.98
This is our most expensive costume by far. But some things are just worth going all-out for. To achieve this look, we used that same $3.99 Eagles shirt from Goodwill that we used before. We added headphones that we already owned to make it look like a headset and, most importantly, an Eagles *visor* that was on sale at WalMart for $8.99. It’s truly the most crucial part of the outfit. Then, I added some more of that $5 zombie makeup from Five Below to complete the costume.
(Want a Sixers version? Wear a suit and add zombie makeup. You’re Sam Hinkie.)
8. Binary Bandit
Total cost: $0
If you live in East Kensington, this costume will be a hit. If you don’t, it’ll be even better — you get to explain the global phenomenon of the person who is (still!) stealing 1s and 0s off of homes in the area. To achieve this look, I simply dressed as a bandit (all black, black gloves, hat, black bandana) and printed out 1s and 0s that we then attached to my shirt.
9. Dumpster pool
Total cost: $0.69
Remember when Riverwards-area residents turned a Dumpster into a pool over the summer? Here’s a quick refresher:
Recreate the magic by getting a box, like the one above that we scored from WalMart for 69 cents. Write “Dumpster, City of Philadelphia” on the outside and put a trash bag in it. You’ll need to wear your swimsuit, grab a pool toy and carry a beer. It’ll be a hit.
10. Convicted Kathleen Kane
Total cost: $12.98
Sigh. Our attorney general became a felon this year. She hasn’t been sentenced yet, and surely could escape prison time depending on what the judge decides. But she could also be sentenced to do some time. We got a white power blazer from Goodwill for $4.99 to emulate Kane’s signature look. Here she is on the second day of her criminal trial:
Then, we added prison-y pants that came along with an adult “convict” costume on sale for $7.99, also at Goodwill.
11. Battleground State
Total cost: $3.99
Holla to my political junkies. Pennsylvania is a battleground state this year. To become one, I wore all purple (get it? Not red or blue?) and we fastened photos of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to either shoulder. I got ready for battle by adding a sword that I got at Goodwill for $3.99.
12. Wing Bowl
Total cost: $10.98
Bear with on this one guys, it’s a little weird. But we wanted to poke a little fun at Wing Bowl without actually, you know, being like people at Wing Bowl. So we dressed Angie in an old T-shirt, and then added children’s wings I got at Five Below for five bucks. To make the “bowl,” we wrapped a trash bag around a hula hoop that was $5.98 at WalMart. Just add beer. Get it? Wings… bowl. OK, OK, I’ll see myself out.
13. Flyers Ghost Bear
Total cost: $3.44
This is the perfect Halloween costume for any Flyers fan. For those who weren’t made aware (ahem), Ghost Bear is a reference to Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who apparently goes by Ghost Bear. Got it. We achieved this costume by wearing a bed sheet (eye holes optional, but recommended) and adding a Flyers hat with printed-out bear ears. Our only expense was getting a plain white hat from WalMart for $3.44, which we then drew a Flyers logo on. Score.
Do you have more ideas for DIY Halloween costumes with a Philly bent? Let us know by tweeting us at @billy_penn. Keep an eye on our Facebook page between now and Halloween, as we’ll be posting more DIY costume videos. And give last year’s costume ideas a look.