A lot of costumes can be built from the staples at either end of the wardrobe spectrum, a business suit or sweats. Let’s take a look at a few ideas:
You’ll need a friend for this one. Black suit, white shirt, black tie, sunglasses and hat.
Men in Black/Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Pretty much the same as the Blues Brothers, though the hat is optional. Make up an ID card to flash.
Spy vs. Spy
This is a great couple’s costume. You need a black suit and a white suit with matching hats. Add sunglasses. Pointy face masks are optional, if you can figure out a clever way to do it. For the full effect, add explosives; grab a length of wooden dowel (a broomstick or closet pole is good), cut it to about 5 or 6 pieces all the same length, say 8-10″. Paint them red, bundle them with electrical tape and stick in a piece of 1/4″ white cotton rope as a fuse; dip the end in glue and cover it with red glitter to look like it’s lit. Find a ball about 6″ in diameter, paint it black. Find a plastic bottle cap. Paint it silver and punch a hole in the center. Insert a fuse (as described a second ago) and glue it to the ball. Each spy gets a prop.
Alien Imperfectly disguised as a human being
This idea was the winner at a science fiction convention’s costume contest back in the mid-1970s. Find a ping-pong ball and cut it in half; cut a hole in the center of each half, then paint the pieces to resemble insect eyes or some other weird kind of eyeball. Put the eyes on like a monocle; the skin around your eyes will hold them in place. Wear ordinary clothes, like a nondescript suit, with only the bug eyes as the one clue that you’re not from around here.
Find a blue suit, white shirt, red tie, fedora and glasses. You’ll also need a red cape. Put on the cape first and put the shirt and coat on over it, allowing the cape to hang out under the back of the coat. (Tuck the shirt in in front.) If you want to enhance the effect further, find a Superman t-shirt and wear it under the thinnest white shirt you can find, so it shows through. Make a press pass (or find one online), print it and stick it into the hatband.
Walt Disney on Ice
Find a conservative ’60s style suit (narrow lapels, subdued blue/gray color), a pair of Mickey Mouse ears, and a can of decorative Christmas snow spray. Grow or buy a mustache. Get some blue make-up. Paint your face to look frozen. Put on the mouse ears. Spray the snow into the air and let it fall all over you, particularly the head and shoulders.
Find the appropriate suit, jacket, trenchcoat, etc, for your favorite Doctor; add the necessary, hat, bow tie, fez, scarf, broccoli sprig or whatever is called for. For added verisimilitude, borrow a sonic screwdriver from your nearest Whovian.
Find a green suit. Cut a stencil and spray-paint question marks all over it. Add a green hat and purple mask.
This one’s a bit work-intensive, but the effect is great. Find two suits in similar styles but boldly contrasting colors/patterns (black/white, gray/plaid, blue/yellow, whatever you find). Cut them both in half and sew the right half of one to the left half of the other. Apply appropriate make-up to half your face.
These are great for kids. Sweats are warm, comfortable, durable, and kids can move in them. Hoodies are great; you can attach ears, horns, antlers, hair, fur, or whatever is necessary to the hood. You can also find a wide variety of animal ears mounted on hairbands and go with a simple shirt. You can also attach ears, noses, beaks or what-have-you to a baseball cap if you like. You can turn sweats into a tiger, leopard, penguin, kangaroo, bunny, aardvark, panda, cat, dog (dalmatians look great), or unicorn with very little effort. Paint and a simple stencil are very effective.
Add wings and antennae to a set of sweats and you’re set. Be a ladybug, butterfly, dragonfly. If you’re ambitious, you can sew extra legs and attach them to the sides of the shirt and make a spider.
Buy a bag of purple balloons. Blow them up and use safety pins to attach them to a sweatshirt (put the pin through the neck of the balloon).
Minnie (or Mickey) Mouse
Put on a black sweatshirt and pants. Find or make a red skirt with white polkadots (paint your own dots on a red skirt) or a pair of red shorts with big yellow buttons (paint them). Add mouse ears. Minnie gets a red bow with white polkadots between her ears.
Marvin the Martian
If you’re handy with a glue gun, you can build Marvin’s head and skirt from 1″ thick upholstery foam. Add red sweats and high-top sneakers.