Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • October 27, 2015

13 Last Minute Halloween Costumes You Can Make With Your Commencement Cap and Gown

Commencement may be over, but it doesn’t mean you can’t wear your academic regalia one more time. If you only wore your cap and gowns once, are you wondering – could that be it? Sure, you could hang your robe up in your closet, or tuck it away in a box full of memories. Or, you could use it for the one other day in the year when it is perfectly acceptable to dress up any way you like – Halloween!

Just by adding a few items, you can transform your cap and gown into any number of costumes with very little effort. Here are 13 cheap, clever and easy last-minute Halloween costume ideas all based on the academic regalia you never thought you’d wear again.    

1. Witch

Materials: Gown, broom, witch’s hat

How-to: After a little hocus pocus (plus a broom and witch’s hat from your local party store) transform your gown into a bewitching costume.

2. Vampire

Materials: Gown, plastic fangs

How-to: Slick back your hair, color in a widow’s peak and put on a pair of fake fangs. Zip up your gown and greet your vampire-self for the night!

3. Jedi

Materials: Gown, black hooded sweatshirt; store-bought or homemade light saber

How-to: If the weather this Halloween is cooler than most for you, a Jedi is the ideal costume to keep you warm. Zip up a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, add your robe and finish the costume with a store-bought, borrowed or homemade light saber.

4. Grim Reaper

Materials: Gown, black hooded sweatshirt, scary mask, plastic scythe

How-to: Pull up the hood of a black sweatshirt and zip up your graduation robe over it. Add a scary mask and plastic scythe from your local party store.

5. Harry Potter/Hogwarts Student

Materials: Gown, white-collared shirt, appropriate house tie, wand, printable house logo (glasses and drawn lightning bolt optional)

How-to: Magically transform into a Hogwarts student with a white-collared shirt and tie boasting colors from your favorite house. Print out the house logo and affix it to your gown. If you want to be Harry Potter himself, complete the look with a pair of black–framed glasses and drawn on lightning bold on your forehead.

6. Judge

Materials: Gown, law textbook, gavel

How-to: An easy costume for those without much time to get ready, all you need to turn your commencement robe into a judicial one is a law text and gavel.

7. Wizard

Materials: Gown, wizard’s hat, wand

How-to: Buy a wizard’s hat at any party store and add a magic wand to conjure up a costume worthy of any hallowed event. 

8. Super Graduate

Materials: Gown, cap, Superman t-shirt

How-to: Wear a superman t-shirt beneath your graduation robe and add your cap for a super costume sure to get some laughs.


9. Domino Tile

Materials: Gown, white duct tape

How-to: Cut out several white dots and arrange them in two groups on your gown. Add a horizontal line through the center and it’s game time. 


10. Pilgrim

Materials: Gown, white collar, white bonnet or black hat with buckle

How-to: This one will require a little crafting to make the collar, bonnet and/or hat, but if you can find the pieces at a party store, this costume is easy to put together.


11. Wednesday Adams

Materials: Gown, wide black belt, black tights, black shoes(wig optional)

How-to: This costume works best on females with long hair, or you can purchase a longhaired wig for the same effect.  Add a large black belt around your gown and wear your hair in two, long braids for a positively dreadful costume.  


12. Smart Cookie

Materials: Cap, glasses, giant cardboard cookie, string

How-to: Dress in something comfortable, but make it fairly neutral. Then, cut out a giant cardboard circle and draw chocolate chips all over the “cookie.” Affix some string to the cookie so it hangs around your neck. Finish off the smart costume with your commencement cap.


13. Penguin

Materials: Gown, white poster board, orange socks (top hat and bow tie optional)

How-to: Dress in all black beneath your gown with orange socks. Cut out a giant poster board oval, and pin it to your robe or wear it around your neck with a string. Bonus points for a top hat and bow tie.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in October 2014 and has been updated with new ideas and examples.

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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