Costume Idea: The Ghost in You

burial cemetery countryside cross

Photo by Mike on

Why are ghosts scary?

Because everyone…everyone…is afraid of death.

Ghosts represent our mortality and finality and the unknown. When you dress like a witch, you know there is no way you are going to fly through the air on a broomstick. When you dress up like a vampire, you know you are not going to sprout fangs and turn into a bat.

But if you take on a ghost costume…you are confronting your own mortality. You are addressing something actually possible.

That’s boss.

You may remember in a previous post how I mentioned that psychologists say women tend to dress in costumes that reveal their shadow side — kind of the opposite of their apparent personality, but definitely in aspects of it.

I imagine if a woman dressed like a ghost, she would have a great deal of responsibility. A ghost, to me, is a more passive figure, one that can float in and out of existence. So dressing like a ghost would allow a woman to have that bit of refuge from her duties, psychologically speaking.

Ghosts are also not as aggressive as witches, vampires or devils. The last two can appear sexually provocative. Ghosts are much more neutral. They have their own power in the ability to scare people, if they choose, but they don’t prey on people like vampires or try to control them like witches and devils do. They aren’t joiners. Witches like covens. Devils are part of a hiearchy. Vampires are created from other vampires and werewolves come from other werewolves.

Not ghosts. Ghosts don’t create more ghosts. They just are. Solitary, creepy, unpredictable.

They are mysterious and romantic, too. There are a lot more poems written about ghosts than vampires or devils. I imagine there are malevolent ghosts, but in general, I think a woman who dressed as a ghost would be at heart somewhat of a romantic. They suffer. They linger. They pine. They haunt. Think of Evanescence.


So, this dress is so romantic, even with graveyard stains. It retails on Amazon or Walmart for between $30 and $40 (I could not find this style at Party City). I usually go as a witch but I really like this ghost costume so I may order this one this year. The only thing I don’t like about it is the under dress is short. It got rave reviews for being flattering and easy to wear, from people of a variety of ages and sizes, including plus size. It’s not a sexy look, as in corsets and tutus and high heels, but it’s very much in the spirit of Halloween.


A ghostly face is not that easy to pull off. One mistake I see is using white, greasy face paint to create a ghostly face. It looks more clownish than ethereal. I looked at some YouTube makeup videos, and saw makeup artists using a light foundation instead. I tried it and the results were great!

For my ghostly look, I used a liquid foundation a couple of shades lighter than my fair and ruddy skin. It’s the lightest shade Wet and Wild makes, called Porcelain (just under $5). I then used a white powder sold in the Halloween costume section that came in a compact (not Wet and Wild brand). It is a light, matte powder (about $3) that together with the foundation, made my skin look pale.

I used a light peach eyeliner from Rimmel (Scandal Eyes) to line my lips (to cancel out any redness.Then I applied the Wet and Wild matte long-lasting color Lavender Crown (Liquid Catsuit), which I bought on clearance for just a dollar at Wal-Mart! It was the color I wanted. Its not too dark or light and it makes my lips look lifeless 🙂 (Revlon and Maybelline also make some gray, lilac and blue shades of lip color.)

I applied Wet and Wild eyeliner in Ghosted white (Kohl crayon) ($1.00) to my waterline of my eyelids (again, to cancel out the redness I have there) and around the inner corners of my eye, near my nose. I also used it to color my dark brown eye brows, which I then went over with a silver liner from Rimmel in silver (Scandal Eyes) to get a kind of gray and white effect.

Then I applied another Wet and Wild Kohl eyeliner in black to my upper lids toward the outer corners. Wet and Wild eyeliner quality really seems to have improved and Rimmel pencil eyeliners are fantastic for the price.

For eyeshadow, I used two Wet and Wild shadows I found on their Halloween display: Panther (shimmery black) and Sugar (glistening white). Both are individual eye shadows that cost $1 each. Makeup artists actually do like Wet and Wild eye shadow. They are deeply pigmented and build up well. I brushed the black on my lids and crease, winged it out a little bit, brushed some under the lash line. Then I highlighted the brow bone with the white shadow and put on some mascara.

Ghostly hair color

I have wild, curly brown hair. I wanted gray or white hair. I figured out a trick. I bought spray hair color in both white and gray ($2 – $3 each). I was going to kind of mix them both. The color was right, but when I sprayed my dry hair, my hair curdled up as if I had burnt it. It looked just awful. I guess it was the combination of the cold spray and chemicals? Well, I washed it out, and then I got the idea of spraying it on damp hair. That worked. It took a while to dry, and it dripped a bit and was messy (wear a towel or old t-shirt if you try this!) but when it was dry, I had springy curls (a bit stiff, but hey) that were kind of grayish white with some darker hair in there. Make sure you spray in a well ventilated room…the fumes are just awful. But for me, it will be better and more comfortable than wearing a wig all night, and the hair color and makeup looked great together.

For dark skin, foundation and white powder all over the face probably wouldn’t look right, but you could do some dramatic gray eyes and lips and I think that would look great with this costume. This tutorial is close to what I was thinking, but if you have other ideas, please comment.


If you want to freak people out (you know you do), move half as slowly as you usually do, glide around, don’t talk much and hold gazes longer. I think that would be hard to sustain at a party or a bar, but you could have some fun with it. Just don’t scare little children half to death when they come to your door for candy 🙂

A final ghostly note

Here’s another ghost song. The Ghost in You by The Psychedelic Furs. A love song. So romantic.

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. Her blogs include Autumn in Virginia, Cool Yule Blog and You Can't Make This Stuff Up, among others. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.
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