Believe it or not, even though I have a master’s degree in theatre, I rarely dress up for Halloween. See, here’s the thing: if I am going to take the time to dress up, it’s going to be something clever and off the beaten path…and something that resonates with me emotionally. Usually, my imagination isn’t sparked, and I’m not going to waste time and money to force a costume. But occasionally, I am inspired and I really, really have a blast creating and wearing a costume.
Take this year, for example: Penny (my Boston Terrier) recently had yet another surgery that left behind a gnarly scar (I think she’s up to 5). We jokingly call her FrankenPenny because she has so many scars (not to mention one blind eye). So, I thought it would be funny (and I needed funny, because the latest surgery was actually part of a cancer scare and I was emotionally wiped), to dress her up as Frankenstein’s creature, so I ordered the costume from Amazon. Just a few days after I ordered the get-up, another sad event occurred…the passing of Gene Wilder, one of my favorites. In tribute, we gathered with friends later that week and watched Young Frankenstein. It was as we were watching, that I was inspired to take the idea of dressing Penny up for Halloween even further…I would pair up with her as Dr. Frankenstein, a la Wilder’s character in the movie. Enter cheap wig, lab coat and stethoscope…and here we are, in all our glory (this also lead to a fun opportunity for a video for my “day job” at PetHub).
This whole experience got me to thinking…what other fun, geeky “pet and human” costume pairings could be easily created with a few clicks on the ol’Google shopping browser? What follows are some super geeky (sci-fi & fantasy), mostly affordable, relatively easy ideas for nerds like me and their fur kids to try this Halloween. A thought about gender with costume, btw — I’m all for crossing the gender line whenever it feels right…but personally, I only do it when I’m not “making fun” of the other gender (like with my Young Frankenstein costume). You do what’s right for you in that regard. We’ll start with the cat folks (cuz let’s be honest here, cats don’t get nearly enough Internet love 😛 ).
Cat Costume Combos
Alien – Jonesy & Ripley (cost $55+, easy-to-difficult to make — you decide)
Depending on how DIY you want to get, this one can be easy…or mega hard (and expensive). The feline actually has no special costume needs. Jonesy is a male tabby, but frankly, I say any cat type is go for a bad-ass spaceship-ridin’, rat-catchin’, alien-butt-whoopin’ kitty. I suppose you can create a fairly cheap name tag with “Jonesy” on it, if you were so inclined. The Ellen Ripley costume is where the real fun begins. You can do it the easy way and get the canned Ripley costume that includes her rifle. Or, if you’ve got time (and money) you can build your own with a flight suit, curly wig and some cosplay patches. And if you REALLY want to go the extra mile, you can replicate her rad double watch, too, provided you can find the spare Casio F-100 parts (or have a 3-D printer handy), and, if you have a LOT of time, money and patience…could build your own flame-thrower, while you’re at it.
The Cat from Outer Space – Jake (Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7) & Dr. Frank Wilson or Dr. Liz Barley (cost $30+, easy to make)
Confession time — I’ve never seen this show (hangs head in geek kid shame). It didn’t originally make the list, but my husband mentioned the show, and after a bit of research, I realized it’s perfect for this list (geeky as heck, a little random, and easy-peasy to accomplish, and it’s got the added bonus of being a good choice for a threesome costume). Jake’s costume is as easy or complex as you want to make it. Go super simple and just get an LED collar. But if you are a crafty-crafter, take it up a notch (or 10) and add some rhinestones with a little hot glue (or add LED lighting to make a really blinged out collar). A word of caution about the collar: I looked for a break-away safety collar (which most folks agree is best for cats) that lights up, but unfortunately, couldn’t find one. So make sure this collar is only on your kitty while you are with them. The human side of this costume can be super-duper simple. For Dr. Frank, a simple sweater, some khakis and a collared shirt is all you need. Dr. Liz is a little more iconic with her tan lab coat and red striped shirt, but any groovy collared shirt and short blonde wig would work in a pinch.
Star Trek: The Next Generation — Spot & Data (cost $20, easy to make)
Hollywood seems to have a thing for orange tabbies like Spot, but again, I personally say use this for any breed (unless you are a Trek purist, and I totally respect that). The thing is, even the Star Trek producers weren’t purists about the breed: Spot’s first two appearances were as a long haired Somali cat (still orange), but then later was consistently the tabby. Also of note is that it was assumed Spot was a male until she got preggers and had kittens (zoiks!). Spot wears no collar or accoutrements that I can detect re-watching a few of her episodes, though she does turn into an iguana once that is wearing a pink collar (so a pink collar would be a completely acceptable costume reference). Next Generation gold crew shirts are easy to get, and a little pale foundation and gelled hair and Data is yours. If you want to take this costume idea a bit further, you can dress up as Worf, who took over Spot’s care after Data died.
Star Trek: Catspaw (Original TV Show) – Sylvia & Kirk (cost $40+, easy to make)
Okay, for the character of Sylvia, you need a black cat. Period. I know, I know, for most of the other combos, I’m saying any breed goes, but for this to really work, you need a black kitty, IMHO. Sylvia is actually in human female form for most of the episode, so you could conceivably make this a three-some if that floats your boat (although Sylvia’s human costume would require a needle and thread and a fabulous wig). To recreate her kitty costume, you’d need a “diamond” pendant to hang from the collar. Easiest way to do that would be to get a simple clear crystal pendant.
Now, when she is in kitty form, she is HUGE, and fills the room — so for an “authentic” picture opportunity, some cardboard, paint and Photoshop fun are in order. A James T. Kirk costume is a classic, and should be a staple in any geek’s closet. Gold captain’s shirt, tight black pants, throw in a phaser, and you are ready to Shatner. Take it all the way and practice your Shatner-speak to make it truly geeky-riffic and fabulous.
Harry Potter – Filch & Mrs. Norris or Hermione & Crookshanks (cost is variable, easy to moderately complex to make)
For those fantasy geeks, the Harry Potter series has a number of cat-human combos. Filch is perfect for big fluffy cats, and Crookshanks is another ginger (although he’s most likely a Himalayan, not the standard orange tabby that’s been featured in other costume combos). Neither cat wears a collar (and that, friends, is a long rant I will go on in a future post — cats should be wearing collars for ID protection, people!!!), so that’s easy. It’s the human costumes that are tricky.
Let’s start with Filch. You can probably get the clothes for this costume at Goodwill (think brown, old man, wool) and then weather the heck out of them, and most costume shops (or Amazon) will have a bald topped long hair wig. Etsy or Amazon (or a local antique or thrift stores for cheapest options) have hand lanterns for your nightly prowl of the halls to find students out of bed. Don’t forget to rot out your teeth! Depending on how elaborate you get with Filch’s clothing, you could probably do this costume for under $50.
Hermione is where things can get rather expensive. You can go total DIY and make your own Gryffindor robe with a black robe, white shirt, striped tie (gotta be gold and red) and a house patch. Another simple option, possibly from your own closet, is a black sweater, skirt, tights, white collared shirt and that famous tie. And if you want to get REALLY fabulous, you can knit your own “Grainbow” sweater that Hermione was so fond of. Of course, you can go all in and fork over some bank for an adult sized replica robe, Gyffindor tie, and Hermione wig. All of that, plus her wand, can set you back well over $100.
Something else to consider — there are loads of other character combos from Harry Potter (think Ronald & Scabbers) to choose from. And frankly, you could just go as a wizard (professor or student from any of the houses) with ANY pet as your familiar, and you’ve got a great combo.
Austin Powers – Mr. Bigglesworth & Dr. Evil (cost $60+, moderately complex to make – makeup involved)
If you have a a hairless Sphinx kitty (or a big fluffy white cat), this is a perfect costume combo for you. Mr. Bigglesworth is best known for his black collar and big black ID with his name in white. This is best done DIY. Something as simple as a round piece of black colored cardboard with a white paint pen for the name is all you would need. Dr. Evil is a standard “in the bag” costume (or I suppose you could sew your own, but I couldn’t find a pattern online for it). I would recommend getting a better bald cap kit so it looks really good (the ones they include in most bagged kits are pretty cheap and crummy and will look super-duper fake). Also critical is his eye scar, and my choice to do that would be Ben Nye’s Scar Putty, my favorite toy from my theatre days (or you could just draw it in with light liner/highlighter).
Dog Duo Dress-up
The Thing – R.J. MacReady & Jed (Potentially stupid expensive, easy-to-moderately complex to make)
First, let’s make one thing crystal clear — I HATE THIS MOVIE. I’ve frankly never made it to the end. Those of you that know the movie, and know my profound love of dogs probably know the exactly scene that is my “NOPE! I’m outa here!” scene that haunted my nightmares for weeks. However, in terms of geeky classics, my husband insists that this is a must. So, I’ll only outline this costume in the “yet unrealized Thing” mode for the doggie.
As to costume, this would be best with a Husky (or similar breed) dog. He’s a sled dog, and best I can tell, just has a standard leather collar on. Now the R.J. (Kurt Russell character) costume is a bit trickier. Glacier sunglasses are rather easy to find, but the hat is a different story. You can get an exact replica if you are willing to drop upwards of $1500 (not kidding…although here is a “cheaper” replica option). If it were me (and it wouldn’t be, cuz, like I said, this movie gives me nightmares), I’d get a cheap, wide-brim brown hat and trick it up with a glue/water combo to look like the RJ hat. To finish off the look, throw on a big fake beard-n-stache combo, black leather jacket, grey sweatshirt, and a DIY fake flame thrower (YouTube has EVERYTHING…seriously. You know you are in a geek-friendly world when you search YT for “RJ fake flame thrower” and have multiple options.)
Star Trek: The Enemy Within (Original TV Series) – Any main crew member & Alfa 177 (Cost $60+, easy-to-moderately complex to make)
Okay, this is one of my favorites in this list — all hail the unicorn doggie!! You’ll need a smallish dog (no one actually knows the breed of the one used in the episode, frankly), since he is carried around for most of the show. His costume is mostly DIY, so get out your hot glue gun: doggie lion mane, horn (you can do a paper-mache, knit one, make it out of cardstock, or buy a cat unicorn hat and don’t tell your dog it was meant for a kitty), and antenna out of clothes hanger wire with red stripes painted on. The really neato-keen thing about this combo is that nearly every main character has contact with the pup (except Uhura, but you could probably even stretch that one, if you really wanted to). So, choose your flavor (Spock & his ears, Sulu, Scotty, Kirk in his green wrap shirt, etc.), tight black pants, black ankle boots, and strap on a phaser & communicator (if you want to splurge), and you are good to go. This would also make an excellent family costume combo — everyone is a crew member! Just remember, the only red shirt to ever get out alive was Scotty, so if you have 2 kids with red shirts, you are essentially saying one of them is ready to be sacrificed.
Back to the Future – Einstein (or Copernicus) & Doc Brown (cost $50, easy to make)
For this, let’s start with Doc Brown, as he is the constant (pun intended). The hair is essential, and easy to get at a reasonable price. Lab coat, mad scientist goggles, baggie pants and a whacky Hawiian shirt make Doc complete. You could go all out with a full hazmat suit outfit if buying pre-made kits is your thing.
Einstein is great for medium to large big fluffy dogs, and the costume is pretty easy. All you’ll need for him is his stopwatch (you’ll wear a matching one, of course), stopped at one minute, 20 seconds (yours is at one minute, 21 seconds). Bonus points for you if your Doc has a remote controlled DeLorean car.
If you are more in favor of the past, and have a smaller mutt more like Copernicus, that costume a bit more elaborate, and would require some DIY head gear (and super patient dog). So if you are a gear-head and like building stuff from scratch, you could put together a wicked cool steampunky helmet for your pup with old mining helmet parts. Or, if you want to stay more on the cheap, you can get a costume miner’s helmet, paint it to look metallic and then hot glue some curling wire on the back of it. And again, you will need a super patient dog (Penny would have this thing off in 2 seconds flat, and be pissed that I tried to make her wear it).
Men in Black – Frank & MIB Agent (cost $10-20+, easy to make)
If you have a pug, this costume is a must. You could, of course do the same idea with another dog, but this is one I’m leaning towards purist. The dog’s costume is simple, but has a DIY element. Though there are “I <3 NY” t-shirts out there for dogs, they all have the design on the dog’s back. What make’s Frank’s costume unique is that his love for NYC is on his chest. Amazon has a $10 simple grey, plain hoodie and with some red and black Sharpie action, and Frank comes to life. Frank also makes a second appearance in a standard issue MIB black suit, so that’s also an option (though not as iconic in my opinion). For the human component, if you don’t have G-man gear in your closet (and many geeks do, I assure you), you can likely get a black suit coat and plain black tie at a local thrift store. Complete the look with black sunglasses, and if you really want to go the extra mile, a MIB badge and Neuralyzer.
Mad Max – Max Rockatansky & Dog (cost minimal, easy to make, depending on weathering of clothes)
Dog is an Australian Cattle Dog, but this is another one that could go for many breeds and mixes of medium sized dogs. Dog’s costume is easy, just a plain red neck bandana, that is frankly easiest made with a piece of red fabric. For the Max costume, all can likely be found (or faked with stuff found) at local thrift stores. In the original movie, Max was in head to toe black leather (actually, since the budget for the film was minimal, is was mostly vinyl). If you want to splurge, and have need for a one-armed jacket, you can actually get the replica for under $200. The right arm of his jacket is cut off just above the elbow, so if you use your own, you’ll be sacrificing it for the costume. You can have costume-store black holster belt and multiple leg belts to strap on various weapons (knives and, ideally, a sawed-off shotgun, ya know, if you have sawed off shotgun in the garage somewhere). Black gloves with the fingers cut out and tall black boots round out the look. If it was me doing this costume, I’d worry about replicating the jacket with the shoulder piece with an old Goodwill jacket and paint, and then just do the rest from my closet (I have a LOT of black in my closet). The key is looking bad-ass, like you are fighting your way through the post-apocalyptic landscape with your trusty pup by your side. All of Max’s clothing is weathered, so depending on how new the items you use are, you may want to do a bit of weathering (literally rub some dirt or makeup on your pants) to get that perfect post-apocalyptic look.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids – Wayne & Quark (cost $30+, moderately complex to make)
This one requires some imagination and DIY. For Quark, the lovable family mutt, you need to affix a set of 4 dolls (3 boys and 1 girl) to his back. Easiest is to get some dollhouse figurines and hot glue them to a harness (or doggie shirt). Though the picture shows them on his nose, that’s just the movie poster — and I cannot think of a single pup that would tolerate any contraption to make it look like the dolls were on his nose. Wayne, the dad, can be a simple black apron, shirt & tie, big red glasses and a magnifying glass. Of course, if you are a bit more adventurous, you can build his crazy helmet (send me a picture if you do). This is another good choice for a couple and their dog (draw straws to figure out who has to be the freaking-out wife, Diane with the feathered bangs).
Doctor Who – The Doctor (or a Companion) & K9 (cost $25+, moderately complex to create)
Ultimate geekdom…Doctor Who. And you have SO many choices with this combo. You can be any one of the many doctors (my personal favorite is the 10th Doctor, David Tennant…and a natty brown suit and over coat is just my style). Long striped scarf (number 4), bowtie and Fez hat (number 11) might be more your style, and are highly recognizable. To complete your Doctor’s look, you’ll need a sonic screwdriver (note that each Doctor has his own sonic screwdriver). Or, if you fancy, you can go as one of his many companions, most notably, Sarah Jane Smith who was closely tied with K9. Or, you can make it a family affair with a Doctor and one (or more) of his companions in tow with K9. For K9, it’s a DIY sort of thing — a little cardboard or fabric, paint and imagination, and any dog can be transformed into the iconic robot dog. I Googled “Dr Who K9 Costume” and found lots of great inspiration on how to create the costume for a dog — really the only limits are your available materials, time and imagination! Most of us probably have all we need to make it with stuff we have in our garage (with maybe one trip to Ace Hardware for grey spray paint).
Please note — I have not been paid in any way to promote the products listed in the post below, nor are the links affiliate (I’m not making money on this, kids). THAT SAID — if you DO decide to buy your costume pieces from Amazon, make sure to do it through Amazon Smile and mark your favorite animal charity. 🙂