Halloween can be scary—I still wake up shivering some nights thinking about the time I had to wear a hoop to the Halloween parade when I forgot a costume in grade three. (What was I? A SCARY CIRCLE, of course, Sparklers.) So we know there are going to be a kazill Kashardians and Heal Slumes (I give up, how does one refer to the former Heidi Klum/Seal collective?), so unless you want to look like EVERYONE else when you’re looking for a couple’s costume with your S.O., we recommend hitting the books for un-Google-able inspiration.
Sam and Frodo from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R. Tolkien. Sure, Arwen and Aragorn would be a hotter couples cozzie, but we think being hairy, stumpy hobbits is kind of sweet. You carry the spice box, and have your sweetie carry the Ring to Rule Them All. (Dibsies on not carrying the all-powerful ring.)
Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. This is going to be particularly easy if you are dating a 50-year-old (eek!), but if you’re regular peers, have your man dress to age with some stick-on-beard and old-man pantaloons, while you don an empire waist and clod of Shakespearean sonnet. On cue, break your ankle and have your S.O. carry you home.
Alice and the mirror from Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. There are a couple of ways to do this: two girls can dress identically (only in reverse) and hold a frame up between them, or if you’re a nonidentical-looking pair, just wrap the other person in al-foil and paint their face silver. Hot tip: Alice going through the magic mirror makes for some awesome interpretive dance.
Holden Caulfield and a phony from Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Dress in some “crumby” private-school uniform-type clothing, with a blazer and cap, while your S.O. finds a way to demonstrate their general phoniness. You know what’s phony? Grownup clothes on someone young. You know what else is phony? GRAMOPHONES. Find a way to dress as a gramophone and you win in life.
Lenny and the pretty farm-girl in Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. For your shopping list: a BIG pair of denim overalls and a pitchfork for someone suitably beefy (Lenny), and luscious red hair and a broken neck for someone suitably saucy (unfortunate farm-girl). Note: You can dial the verisimilitude up or down on the neck injury as you please.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Are you playing third wheel? Perfect! You’re now officially Harry Potter for the night (zigzag scar, glasses, wand), while your coupled-up friends go as Hermione (teased hair and school uniform) and Ron (red hair with chocolate frogs up your sleeves). BFFFs!
Howard Roark and Dominique Francon from The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Make sure your Howard has the tools of the architecture trade—pencils, compasses, a rugged sense of individualism—such to seduce Dominique. To dress as the formidable Dominique, forget plebeian “clothing” and “functional” bodywear—these are attempts by man to pander to some design sensibility that can be superseded by neat lines and cubes and triangles. We suggest simply wearing a series of boxes and some red lipstick.
Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This is a gimme if you want to look good and coordinated on Halloween, rather than like a Pier 1 storeroom (see above). Ladies: get yourself a flapper dress, or make one by sewing tiers of cheap fringing from Jo-Ann Fabrics onto a simple tube dress. Fellas: dress sharp in a pastel suit and find yourself a yella car.
Sal Paradise and a road from On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Sal will need a typewriter, wad of cotton (from the farmhand days) and gelled hair coiffe, while the road need only look like asphalt, and possibly have a “Route 6” sign on it. Crack out your denim and puff paints!
Dill and Scout-as-a-ham from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Okay, if you can find a way to create a dill pickle costume and a ham costume for Halloween, you officially kill this thing in our coolness books. For one, dressing as Scout-as-a-ham makes you a character within a character; for another, Dill was the first and the last person to ever have that delicious nickname.
Captain Ahab and Moby Dick from Moby Dick by Herman Melville. Attention, this is your first and last chance to bring a harpoon to Halloween, and spend all night yelling at a peacable mammal. For the whale among you, paint a sad eye on your side, and when you get tired of talking to people, just windmill your arms away as if you’re headed for a deep dive.
Paris and London from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. You be the Eiffel Tower and I’ll be the Tower of London, and we will gaze adoringly at each other from across the room, while practicing our best English/French accents on those who pass by the English channel. Righto chap? Haw-haw!
What book characters would make a great couples costume?!