Handfuls of students are making an effort to not be one of the numerous store-bought naughty nurses walking up and down Main Street this Halloween.

Brenna McNamara


Whether getting ideas from nature or a single thrift store item, lack of inspiration is not an excuse to squeeze into a bagged costume.

All freshman visual communication design major Laura Guardalabene had to do was walk around campus to dream up her red squirrel costume.

“I wanted to be a lemur, but no one would guess that,” Guardalabene said. “Then I thought, ‘there are a lot of squirrels on campus.’ But I didn’t want to be a black one.” She plans on being a furry animal for the next couple years.

She struck gold on this costume that’s appealing without being revealing. “It’s warm, fuzzy and cute!”

Some ideas come without even searching.

Courtney Coppins, junior fashion merchandising major, decided to be Minnie Mouse on a routine walk through the thrift store. Coppins was drawn to a poofy, red skirt while thrift store shopping and immediately knew she needed to make it into a Halloween costume. “I needed a costume for the skirt. It’s all the skirt’s fault!” Coppins said.

Rick Coffey, junior music theatre performance major, has assembled his own costume every year since he started attending college. Coffey waited patiently for a bolt of creativity to strike and begin this year’s journey to a complete Halloween costume. He was sitting at Rosie’s Diner when he recalled a Facebook comment that said he looked Asian. “I am part Cherokee, so I have squinty eyes,” he said. “Then I thought, I should be a geisha!'”


Making a unique costume can mean collecting the perfect items to make the perfect costume, or sitting down and sewing the way to a costume.

Freshman fashion design major Christine Pace’s said she was offered extra credit to create her own costume, and Pace took advantage. She decided on a simple Dorothy costume from the Wizard of Oz. She began by looking at patterns, eventually buying a Simplicity Pattern for her dress. “It took all day on a Saturday and Sunday to make the dress,” she said.

Guardalebene headed to JoAnn Fabric’s and picked out a red-brown, furry fabric to make the shorts and long-sleeved shirt for her squirrel costume. She guesses it will take about 40 minutes to make those items.

But she didn’t stop there.

Guardalabene grabbed some of the many acorns lying across campus and painted them with clear nail polish to add a shine.

“I hot-glued them to some string. Some hang down. It’s kinda chunky,” she said about her acorn necklace. “For the necklace’s centerpiece, I put a pine cone that I also painted in the middle of the acorns,” she said.

The last step in Guardalbene’s costume is a tail made out of a longer fur. “I want to stuff it to make it into a big bushy tail,” she said “I don’t know how I’ll attach it, but I want it to go all the way up my body.”

Talk about crafty.

For those unfortunate few who cannot sew, assembling a costume can bring amazing results as well.

Coffey’s geisha costume will be just as unique; however he will assemble it by collecting pieces instead of sewing it himself.

“I searched Craigslist for the perfect kimono,” he said. “The last touches will be my hair and makeup on the actual Halloween day.”

Coffey has a friend who works in a Pittsburgh hair salon who will help him fix the wig. “I know enough about makeup to do that part,” he said.

Andrea Guarnieri, junior recreational therapy major, began her costume with a shirt identical to the one Kelly from “Saved by the Bell” wore while working at The Max.

“My costume basically stemmed from that shirt,” said Guarnieri, who continued to build on the costume with spandex and a “Kelly” name tag.

For the most part, the makers of these costumes try to stay away from the Halloween store; but Coppins and Pace have to get last minute items like gloves, Minnie Mouse ears and shoes that do require a trip to the store.


Price is a huge factor in a handmade or assembled costume.

An average store-bought Halloween costume costs about $50, a price that these people aren’t willing to pay.

“I don’t normally pay more than $20,” Coffey said. “My costume won’t cost more than that.”

Guarnieri’s costume will cost less than $10, she said. “It won’t be a store-bought costume,” she said. “It’s so cheap and a lot more fun to be creative.”

Guardalebene said her costume cost is probably about the same as buying one because of the comfy fabric she chose.

“But no one else has it,” she said. “It’s unique.”

Pace chose to make her costume because of the satisfaction it brings.

“It’s cheaper and funner,” she said. “It will be satisfying on Halloween to walk around and know I made what I am wearing.”

Contact features reporter Brenna McNamara at [email protected].