25 NYC-Inspired Halloween Costumes

Gillian Osswald

You never need an excuse to dress up in NYC, but there is something special about getting decked out and parading through the streets for Halloween. For fashion inspiration, look no further than the City itself. The food, buildings, movies and quirky residents of New York City are full of costume potential; read on for tips on pulling off some of our favorite NYC-themed looks.

Illustration: Elizabeth Daggar

For movie buffs: Margot Tenenbaum

Outfit essentials: To pass as the chic, brooding, chain-smoking daughter from The Royal Tenenbaums (which Wes Anderson set and filmed in NYC), all you’ll need is a camel-colored fur coat, a hair barrette and a generous application of smudgy black eyeliner.
Bonus points: Accessorize with a fake cigarette and a (likely fake) tan Birkin bag—though any satchel will do. For even more detail, throw on a striped Lacoste polo dress and black penny loafers, and complete the look by fashioning a wooden ring finger.

More Hollywood Halloween inspo: Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffany’s); Susan (Madonna’s character from Desperately Seeking Susan); the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (Ghostbusters)

Illustration: Elizabeth Daggar

For old pros of NYC: a Greek-style NYC coffee cup

Outfit essentials: Whether you fashion your torso-sized cup from a garbage can, laundry hamper or other cylindrical structure, the key is the cup’s iconic blue-and-white Grecian design that’s been around since the 1960s. It’s known as the Anthora.
Bonus points: Decorate your cup with its classic inscription, “We are happy to serve you,” and you’ll look like you stepped off the set of Law and Order.

Other insider options: a Times Square “Do you like comedy?” dude; a Health Department grade sign

For when you want a little help from your friends: Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring

Outfit essentials: Throw it back to NYC’s 80s art scene with this costume trifecta. Don your best black turtleneck and cropped platinum wig for Warhol, and throw on some Levi’s 501s for extra accuracy. The Basquiat look won’t be complete without his signature free-form hairstyle; a blazer and skinny tie will complete the look. For Haring, a pair of round specs are a must to pair with a white, crewneck top decorated with some of Keith’s own doodles. (For visual inspiration, check out this photography exhibit with photos of the artists, open through October 31.)
Bonus points: Make sure your artists have their signature tools in hand: a Polaroid camera—or a Campbell’s soup can—for Warhol; a spray paint can for Basquiat; and a Sharpie for Haring.

Additional New York City collectives for your consideration: the Seinfeld characters; the Rockettes; the Sex and the City gang or the Real Housewives of New York City

For snack lovers: a slice of pizza

Outfit essentials: If you’re going to channel one of New York’s favorite foods, make sure your costume crust is thin and looks lightly coal-oven charred. Or shake things up and go as a square Sicilian-style slice; some of our favorite NYC slices share that shape.
Bonus points: Get creative with your slice toppings. The menus at Motorino or Emmy Squared can provide some ingredient inspiration, or take a page from Vinnie’s Pizzeria in Williamsburg and go all out as the pizza-topped pizza slice.


Other food-oriented possibilities: a pretzel; a Nathan’s hot dog; a bodega cat

Illustrations: Elizabeth Daggar

For music fans: KISS

Outfit essentials: If you wanna rock and roll all Halloween night, dress up as one of these New Yorkers who made it big. Whether you opt for Paul’s single star, Peter’s whiskers, Gene’s demon character or Ace’s Spaceman look, makeup is obviously the crux of this costume.
Bonus points: Though the band’s wardrobe—not to mention composition—changed over the years and tours, you’ll want to wear as much black, metal and leather as possible. The sparklier and higher the moon boots, the better.

More musical New Yorkers: The Ramones; Lou Reed; Debbie Harry; Run-DMC; Cardi B

For architecture admirers: Statue of Liberty

Outfit essentials: Bring Lady Liberty to life by donning your best floor-length, greenish-blue dress—or robe or sheet—and a seven-point crown. Go all out by covering your arms and face with makeup in a matching green hue.
Bonus points: Come equipped with a faux torch (preferably with gold tissue paper flames) ready to raise with your right arm and a tablet tucked in your left. If you want to match the real statue, put the USA’s birth date, “July IV, MDCCLXXVI,” on the cover of the tablet.

Additional structured looks: the Chrysler Building; the Astor Place Cube (Alamo sculpture)