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A woman wears a sandwich board reading "Keep Pizza $1."
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan / Time Out

Eight last-minute NYC-themed Halloween costumes

You can pull these very 2022 costumes together in a few hoursโ€”we did.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
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Halloween is just a few days away and the Halloween parties are already starting. Don't have a costume? Don't freak out. The Time Out team is here to help. 

Inspired by the Village Halloween Paraders, we pulled together eight very topical New York costumes that you can create in just a few hours and be the hit of the party. For each one, we’re sharing how-to tips, plus we’ve organized the costumes by difficulty level on a scale of one to five pumpkins (five being the most intensive). Here’s how to DIY your way to a really gourd time.

RECOMMENDED: Meet the local artists creating DIY looks for the Village Halloween Parade

RECOMMENDED: The best Halloween events for 2022 in NYC

A woman dressed up as a squirrel poses in Central Park.
Photograph: Courtesy of Rossilynne Culgan

1. A splooting squirrel

The city's poor overheated squirrels took the Internet by storm over the summer with their adorable pose to cool down by "heat dumping." Basically, they sprawl out on their bellies to cool down ... which is exactly how we stretch out on our kitchen floor after returning from a day in the summer sun. We were so charmed by these critters that we dressed up as a hot squirrel—not a sexy squirrel, to be clear, but that's also an option on the table.

How to do it: Dress in every brown item of clothing you have. We topped our costume off with a faux fur hat. For the tail, we used a faux fur shawl, but a brown boa would also work. To really go for the squirrel look, we bought a dog snout and ears from Party City for $10. Adjust the ears carefully and nobody will know they're dog ears, and the snout is nondescript enough to look squirrelish. 

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

A woman dressed up as Anna Delvey.
Photograph: Courtesy of Shaye Weaver

2. Anna Delvey

The story of Anna Delvey, a.k.a. Anna Sorokin, is all about the art of illusion, so this fraudster (or is it heiress?) makes for a perfect Halloween costume. If anyone asks you for candy, just tell them you sent it via wire transfer.

How to do it: Grab a classic LBD (little black dress) from your closet and pair it with a black choker and black eyeglasses (we got ours for $17 on Amazon). It's really all about the attitude with this costume, so pretend you're an heiress with suitcases full of cash. For a true chef's kiss, stand in front of The Beekman for photos declaring that it's "sooo basic."

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ 

A man dressed up as a character from The Gilded Age.
Photograph: Courtesy of Will Gleason

3. The Gilded Age

When The Gilded Age premiered on HBO in January, it whisked viewers back to old New York, a time of ostentatious displays of wealth and oh-so-many luncheons. We leaned into the gilded glamour for this one with a perfectly pressed suit and a backdrop fit for a king. If you want to snap a photo out on the town, here's our guide to 13 places where you can still experience the Gilded Age.

How to do it: Bedeck yourself in your finest suit with a classic black tie, and you can even add a top hat if you've got one. Pose in front of a painting and add a few dried florals (we scored them at Trader Joe's for $4). We also created this invitation (using a free postcard from The Plaza) to luncheon because seriously these people loved to talk about luncheon. It promises to be the event of the season.

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

A woman wears a sandwich board reading "Keep Pizza $1."
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan / Time Out

4. A $1 slice protestor 

Nothing is safe from inflation, not even our beloved $1 slice pizza. To pay homage to New York City's favorite cheap slice, we created a tongue-in-cheek pizza protestor costume, then posed with an actual $1 slice. 

How to do it: You'll need a couple of blank sheets of poster board to write your own messages. We kept it simple with, "Keep pizza $1" and "Give pizza chance." Bonus points: Posing with an actual $1 slice by a fresh pizza sign. 

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

People dressed up as rats.
Photograph: Courtesy of Shaye Weaver

5. A group of rats

There are more rats scurrying around NYC than ever before, so, uh, join the party, we guess? Seriously, when it comes to New York City wildlife, there's nothing more iconic than the creepy little (actually sometimes not-so-little) vermin the city's waging war on. This one works as a solo costume or a group costume, so have some fun with it.

How to do it: Don all your gray apparel. Then, top off your outfit with some mouse ears, a tail, and gloves (we found a two-pack on Amazon for $26). For props, we posed near a garbage can with a few trash bags. Take it to the next level by making a sign with some of the absolutely wild quotes from the city's most recent press conference about rats, like ... "The rats don't run this city, we do" or "This is not Ratatouille. Rats are not our friends."

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ 

A woman dressed up as Funny Girl.
Photograph: Courtesy of Shaye Weaver

6. Funny Girl

The drama of Broadway's Funny Girl got a lot of attention this summer. Lea Michele—the erstwhile star of TV's Glee and Broadway's Spring Awakening—has taken over the show's leading role of Fanny Brice. We're inspired by her fashion and the history of the show's early-20th-century Ziegfeld Follies look, so we channeled the vintage vibes for this outfit.

How to do it: A red coat and a hat are crucial for this costume. We added a black collared shirt with detailed beading. Put on some black gloves if you've got them and take a photo in soft light. 

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

A woman wears a dress made out of Trader Joe's bags.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Culgan / Time Out

7. The ghost of Two Buck Chuck

When Trader Joe's abruptly closed its wine shop below Union Square this summer, it marked the end of an era for budget booze shoppers. New Yorkers poured out their heartbreak on social media, so in honor of the store, we made this costume an ode to days past. 

How to do it: You'll need a few paper bags from Trader Joe's, one to make a top and one to cut into a fringy skirt. We lined the band of the skirt with Moleskine to keep it sturdy and prevent paper cuts. For the top, make sure that the Trader Joe's logo is visible in the front like Superman's "S." Finally, you'll need a bottle of wine to carry with you. If you're heading to a party, bring a full bottle for the host.

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

A woman dressed up as a spotted lanternfly.
Photograph: Courtesy of Rossilynne Culgan

8. Spotted lanternfly 

One of the scariest ghouls of the year? The spotted lanternfly.

Don't let this insect's pretty polka dots fool you. It's actually an agricultural menace. Since Halloween is all about the creepy-crawly, we dressed up as this beautiful but damned insect, then snapped photos next to a tree while biting into an apple.

How to do it: Start with a black base layer. The wings are the tough part. To create the wings, we used the non-greasy parts of a pizza box, carefully cutting out a shape that matched the pictures on Google images. Next, add a layer of white paper on top of the wings, cutting it out to the same shape. Grab some colored pencils and start drawing the lanternfly's distinct pattern (this took a WHILE). Finally, carefully tape the wings together with a strong adhesive and affix a ribbon to create a sort-of harness to keep the wings on you. To top it off, we bought a $6 insect headband from Party City. 

Difficulty level: ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

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