Easy to Make Book Character Costumes

By Rachel Sawaya

Beloved book characters can inspire memorable costumes and enthusiasm for making such costumes. Many of these are easily put together with ordinary clothes, requiring only a couple of standout accessories that identify the character.

Alice in Wonderland

The Alice books have a wide range of colorful characters, many of which are widely open to interpretation.

  • Alice of the original Lewis Carrol books often wore an A-line dress with short peasant sleeves, a white apron and a wide headband or ribbon holding back her hair. In the Disney books, her dress is a sky blue. Carry a prop such as a plush toy white rabbit or a glass bottle labeled “Drink me." 
  • The Hatter needs a top hat, of course, and is usually dressed in a brightly colored waistcoat and jacket, ready for tea. In the original illustrations the Hatter wears a polka-dot bow-tie and checkered trousers and has a prominent price-tag tucked into the band of his top hat. A tea-cup or teapot would make a cute prop for the costume. 
  • The White Rabbit costume needs a pair of white rabbit ears, which can be made with poster board, glue and headband. If you don't have a dressy, vest, purchase a dark colored or brocade one at a thrift store to serve as the rabbit's waistcoat. Hang a pocket watch from a front pocket. Alternatively, make a vest from a T-shirt, and embellish with coat buttons -- the White Rabbit isn't the sort to leave his vest open. Wear a long sleeve white shirt under the vest. Also wear white slacks or sweatpants. Enter the room announcing: “I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!”

Harry Potter

The student uniforms at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books wear plain, black robes, sometimes accessorized with their black pointed hats. They didn't wear anything but under gaments under their robes, while in the movies they wore clothes with ties under their robes. Liven your costume up with accessories that display your favorite Hogwart's house colors: red and gold for Gryffindor, green and silver for Slytherin, black and yellow for Hufflepuff and blue and bronze for Ravenclaw. Fashion paper badges after the house shields. Of course, no Hogwarts student would go anywhere without his wand. Purchase a replica online, buy a toy wand at a dollar-type store or create a wand with a small branch.

Additionally, purchase a wig or temporarily dye your hair and add makeup to complete the look of your character:

  • Harry Potter: Wear dark brown, short hair, that is tousled. Draw the famous zigzag scar on your forehead. 
  • Hermione Granger: Wear long brown, thick, slightly frizzy hair and carry notebooks and a book. 
  • Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster, is fond of purple clothing. Make or purchase a waist-length, white beard and half-moon glasses. 

More Book Character Costumes

Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games wears khaki pants, a black shirt and a leather jacket. Combat boots, a toy bow and a mockingjay pin finish the look. An authentic-looking mockingjay pin can be made with bronze-colored polymer clay or pale clay painted with bronze or gold paint.

Max from Where the Wild Things Are

wears a gold, paper crown over the hood of his white, one-piece, pajamas. Alternatively, you could wear the crown over a white hoodie, add white sweatpants and slippers or white sneakers.

Add cardboard claws to your feet and pin a black tail to the back of your costume. Glue black, paper whiskers on the sides of the hood with fabric glue. Don't set the glue. This way you can wash it out.

Anne from Anne of Green Gables has long, red hair, kept in a pair of braids when she was young. As a child, she often wore a plain pinafore dress, with a blue or white, long sleeved blouse underneath it, and leather ankle-boots. A straw boater hat will finish the look.

Waldo of Where's Waldo is one of the easiest book character costumes. He wears a long-sleeved, red-striped shirt, a red and white striped hat with a red pompom, and blue jeans. Waldo also wears thick-rimmed black glasses.

Sherlock Holmes from the classic mystery novels and short stories, is often depicted in the original illustrations wearing a gray or tartan frock coat and a deer-stalker hat. Alternatively, wear a dark suit under a trench coat, with a flat cap. With a magnifying glass and a calabash tobacco pipe as accessories there is no mistaking Mr. Holmes. Plastic versions of his curving pipe can be found, or you can make your own from polymer clay.

About the Author

Rachel Sawaya has been calling herself an artist from the age of five, when her artworks were carefully crafted from clay and petals. After earning a diploma in art and creativity, Sawaya went on to graduate with a master's degree in creative writing. She occasionally still uses clay and flower petals.