Last-minute literary costume ideas for a costume-hater
March 11, 2019 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm a middle school (math) teacher and my school is having a "dress like your favorite literary character" day tomorrow. I need to participate but am struggling to come up with ideas. Snowflake details below

I'm not a costume person. I'm kind of uncomfortable wearing costumes that make me stand out and have a fairly limited, minimalist wardrobe (I own jeans, cardigans, flannels, dress pants, a black dress, basics like that.) I really don't want to buy anything new. If it's relevant, I'm a short, plus sized, early thirties, white, cis woman, but I wouldn't necessarily need my character to match my physical appearance.

Costume suggestions also need to be from books appropriate for middle schoolers and ideally, a book some middle schoolers or their teachers have heard of!

I'd love some ideas for regular-person outfits that would double as a literary character. Help me, hive-mind!
posted by horizons to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Harriet the Spy wore jeans and a hoodie. Carry a notebook.
posted by melodykramer at 1:59 PM on March 11, 2019 [10 favorites]

Hang a couple of dollar-store clocks on yourself and be Tock from The Phantom Tollbooth?
posted by clawsoon at 1:59 PM on March 11, 2019 [4 favorites]

Miss Frizzle?
posted by janepanic at 2:01 PM on March 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Judy Blume is a regular woman, if you can get curly hair. Not so costume-y and a modern woman. Meaning, all her characters are regular girls, so a unusual costume isn't necessary. Because I write clumsy, lol.
posted by annieb at 2:01 PM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe something math-y? Meg Murry from the Wrinkle in Time series or Matilda (of Matilda) could be options.
Meg is described as having glasses and braces; Matilda might just involve bringing chocolate cake and wrinkling your nose.
posted by Edna Million at 2:06 PM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Middle school math teacher? I think you must go as Professor Septima Vector.
posted by nantucket at 2:11 PM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

There has to be an easy "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" look--white shirt, black pants, black backpack, and a yellow piece of paper punched with holes as a nod to the Cheese Touch. Maybe you could stick it to a hat or a hairband? Add a HELLO I AM Greg Heffley sticker?
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:18 PM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you happen to have a toy pig, you could carry that & wear a more worn-out pair of jeans and a flannel shirt (or dress as whatever reads as "classic farm girl" in your area), and you are now Fern from Charlotte's Web
posted by castlebravo at 2:20 PM on March 11, 2019 [5 favorites]

Red shirt, black pants, stuffed tiger = Calvin and Hobbes?
posted by tchemgrrl at 2:44 PM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Lumberjanes have enough different styles that you could just have on a flannel shirt and khakis and go as one of them.
posted by tchemgrrl at 2:46 PM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cut out a big cardboard square, attach it to a backpack, wear the backpack, and be A Square from Flatland? (or wear a square some other way, if you prefer)
posted by redfoxtail at 2:46 PM on March 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

I feel like you could do a Queen of Hearts costume that would read properly without going all out. Especially if you have a pack of cards at home.
posted by vunder at 4:48 PM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Put on a pair of sunglasses and tell people you're Crowley from Good Omens (i.e. a demon from hell with snake-like eyes, hence the sunglasses). A TV series is coming out soon so it's topical, and if people complain about fidelity tell them the whole point of being a demon is you can shapeshift.
posted by trig at 4:55 PM on March 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’m a teacher who is in this position yearly. I bought a yellow t shirt and a laundry pen. At about belly- button level I drew a zig-zag line around the whole shirt. This year I added a “Hello, my name is Charles” name tag. Pair with black pants (shorts, ideally, but who cares.)

My go-to costume for dress as your favorite literary character for going on 10 years now.
posted by carterk at 5:14 PM on March 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

These are all great suggestions! I'm going with Harriet the Spy because that was one of my favorite characters as a kid and I can never turn down an opportunity to wear a hoodie and jeans to work. Thanks all!
posted by horizons at 7:28 PM on March 11, 2019 [6 favorites]

In a similar case, I wore a bathrobe (over jeans and a T shirt) and carried a towel and I was Arthur Dent.
posted by gideonfrog at 5:24 AM on March 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Retro dress or dungarees, pearls - Nancy Drew. Helps if you have access to a roadster and a chum. She was retro even when I read her 40+ years ago. Harriet is a great choice.
posted by theora55 at 10:58 AM on March 12, 2019

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