DIY: Art History-Inspired Halloween Costumes!

My kids love to dress up. And they love Halloween. They like art history. So why not combine the three for some not-so-scary fall fun? I love these costumes because they are unique and inexpensive.

Art-inspired dress-up is a great way to teach children about different artists and works of art. These costumes make for creative Halloween attire, but would be fun to try any time of year.

Kids will be more enthusiastic about dressing up in this way if they know a little something about the artists and/or artwork. For this reason I’ve included a mini art history lesson along with the costume descriptions.

Infanta Margarita by Diego Velázquez


Does your daughter adore princesses? Then she will enjoy learning about the Infanta Margarita, whose legend lives on in the many portraits painted of her by the famous Spanish artist Diego Velásquez. My children were first introduced to Margarita through the wonderful book The Spanish Princess by James Mayhew.

What to do:

Visit my Infanta Margarita Pinterest board with your daughter and look at the various portraits of the princess. Ask your child the following questions:

  1. If you could own one of the dresses, which one would it be and where would you wear it?
  2. If you could enter one of the paintings and play with Margarita, which one would it be and what would you play?
  3. Can you name some of the objects she’s holding in her hands in the various paintings? Why do you think she’s holding these things?
  4. Look at the painting of Margarita with the red ribbons in her hair. If she could tell you a secret, what would it be?

 Interesting facts about Margarita and her portraits:

  1. The princess had many titles including Holy Roman Empress, German Queen, Archduchess consort of Austria, Queen consort of Hungary and Bohemia. That’s a lot of responsibility!
  2. She had a little brother named Charles.
  3. Margarita lived during the 17th century in both Spain and Austria.
  4. She enjoyed theatre and music.
  5. She was married at the young age of 15 and had four children. She was only 21 when she died.
  6. One of her diamonds, which was from India, was sold for $24.3 million. This is the highest price paid for a diamond sold at an auction.
  7. Diego Velásquez, who painted these portraits, was a Baroque artist and one of the most important painters of the Spanish Golden Age. Baroque art is very theatrical and incorporates a dramatic use of light and dark. It is an art movement that began in Rome and spread throughout the rest of Europe.


For the costume:

  1. White dress
  2. Pink lace
  3. Black ribbon
  4. Jeweled pendant and/or other costume jewelry

I purchased a white angel costume at Marshalls (one of my favorite stores) for $19.99. To make it ivory in order to look more like Margarita’s, simply soak the dress in hot tea. I cut four squares of lace (purchased at Walmart for $5.00) and made them into a folded fan shape. I placed them on the upper arm and then tied a satin black ribbon around them and made a bow. I did the same at the wrist and repeated on the other arm. We put another ribbon in Kolbe’s hair and pinned one of my jeweled pendants to the front of the dress. Violá!


Kolbe didn’t smile for the photos because she said Margarita always has a serious face in her portraits. Good observation! It was, in fact, not proper at that time to show one’s teeth in a portrait.

Vincent van Gogh


My children are big fans of Vincent van Gogh. They get a little squeamish thinking about the whole ear ordeal, but other than that they enjoy looking at his colorful, lively paintings. Another good children’s book is van Gogh and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt. It is a great introduction to the post-impressionist artist and his work.

What to do:

I recommend reviewing my Vincent van Gogh art history lesson with your little one. Take your child’s age into consideration and share accordingly (it’s a long lesson). Look at the pictures together and read the Fun Facts section. You can also visit my Vincent van Gogh Pinterest board to view more of his artwork.


For the costume:

  1. White t-shirt
  2. Plain button-down shirt with pockets
  3. Simple pants and shoes
  4. Small sun hat ($3 at Michaels)
  5. DIY artists palette (I used the top of a cardboard box, traced the lid of a pot for an oval, then cut with scissors)
  6. Paint brushes
  7. Sunflower
  8. Face paint for beard
  9. Old, white torn cotton t-shirt for bandage


This costume is super-easy because most of the items come straight out of the closet. Our friend Shea came over wearing a white t-shirt underneath a plain button-down shirt and simple pants. I painted a beard on his face with face paint and then wrapped a piece of an old white t-shirt around his head. This provided the bandage for Vincent’s severed ear. We topped it off with a straw hat and placed a sunflower in his shirt pocket. You could purchase a wooden palette from Michaels for $10.00, but I made this one by cutting out the top of a cardboard box. One idea might be to dress up your child in this costume and then do my Vincent van Gogh Saltwater Sunflower project. What a fun afternoon that would be!

Viva Frida Kahlo


I was inspired to include this costume after I saw this post by Oh Happy Day. I couldn’t resist dressing up my daughter Sophie like the Mexican artist since she’s a brown-eyed brunette.

What to do:

At my Freda Kahlo Pinterest board you and your daughter will have all sorts of Freda fun. Observe the different self-portraits and ask her the following questions:

  1. What animals do you see in the paintings?
  2. Find the painting of Freda and with a parrot perched on her shoulder. What do you think she’s thinking?
  3. What colors do you see?
  4. How do you feel when you look at her self-portraits? Why do you think she painted so many portraits of herself?

Interesting facts about Freda Kahlo:

  1. Freda was often seen wearing long, colorful skirts. This was to hide the fact that one of her legs was thinner than the other due to polio, which she contracted at the age of six.
  2. Freda suffered from health problems throughout her life, but instead of turning inward and feeling sorry for herself, she channeled her suffering into becoming a great painter. She is Mexico’s most famous female artist.
  3. She said: “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”
  4. Freda Kahlo is self-taught, meaning she never received formal art training, but taught herself how to paint.
  5. Freda’s artwork was highly influenced by her native country of Mexico. This is reflected in the colorful paintings which feature animals and plants typical of her homeland.



For the costume:

  1. Pink lace
  2. Costume jewelry
  3. Peasant blouse (this one is was $19.99 at Target)
  4. Simple,colorful skirt
  5. Silk flowers ($3.00 at Walmart)
  6. Brown eye liner for unibrow
  7. Flower cloth stickers ($4.99 at Walmart)

We made two small buns at the top of Sophie’s head and placed the roses through them. I don’t sew so I simply wrapped the yard of lace around her shoulders. I painted the unibrow using my brown eyeliner and placed the flower stickers on her ears for earrings. So cute!

So, do you think your children would like to go trick or treating in one of these costumes? If your son dresses up like Vincent and your daughter goes as Margarita, please post a comment along with a photo. I’d love to see your little artists!

Don’t forget to join in the fun on Facebook!

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  1. How fantastic! I love that these are not gory costumes and they reflect the interest of your children!

  2. These are adorable tributes to Art History – I love it! Thanks for sharing. A nice pleasant educational twist on Halloween – sans the blood, gore or spooky quality. Definitely more my style ;o).

  3. l really enjoyed seeing your creativity in your children’s costumes! More about dress up and less about gore.

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