Spooky Elvira-Inspired Halloween Costumes

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You might not know Cassandra Peterson if you saw her on the street. But as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, the actress has been charming horror fans for decades. Her signature sexy-vamp costume and makeup, coupled with her witty remarks about campy thriller films, have helped her launch an enterprise that includes her own production company, her own line of merch on her "boo-tique," and countless appearances on TV and conventions. Most recently, she created major buzz with her new memoir, "Yours Cruelly, Elvira," which details her early years as a Vegas performer and member of the Groundlings troupe before creating the character that launched her to fame. It was there Peterson also revealed for the first time that she has been quietly involved in a same-sex relationship for nearly 20 years.

With Peterson's spook-tacular success back in the public eye, what better way to honor her achievements than by creating your very own Elvira look this Halloween? It's easy, fun, instantly recognizable, and might even help you showcase a part of your personality that no one has ever seen. As Peterson herself says in her book, according to The Washington Post, "Elvira became everything Cassandra wanted to be."

Below are some suggestions for creating your own Halloween costume.

Do your makeup Elvira-style

As befits a Mistress of the Dark, Elvira is known for her ghostly pale skin and glamorous, over-the-top makeup. Go-Go Cosplay explains how to replicate Elvira's look. First, you'll want to apply a foundation one or two shades lighter than your normal skin tone, and seal it with translucent powder. Use lilac eyeshadow on your lids with a darker purple around the rest of the eye. Mix in a little black as well to finish off the eyeshadow look. 

With a thick eyeliner, outline your eyes just above your upper and lower lashes. For your cheeks, blend pink shadow on the apples of your cheekbones. Then, as for your lips, only a true candy-apple red will do. If you want to go full-on Elvira, pair this makeup with a black lace Goth-style costume. If you'd rather keep it more subtle, the makeup look on its own works just as well.

Don't be afraid to go daring

Elvira's signature costume is a long low-cut black dress, with a long slit in the skirt to show plenty of leg. You can find many dresses in that style on Amazon or Etsy. Amazon has this Floor Length Gothic Dress Costume starting at $34.90, which one reviewer said was "just what [they] wanted." You could even find this look in your local party store if you're searching for a Morticia Addams costume, because she and Elvira have very similar looks. 

In a pinch, you can even put together your own outfit with a long-sleeved black shirt and long skirt. Use a wide black belt to cinch in your waist, and use it to hold a prop dagger (like this one, from Party City for $12). You'll need a push-up bra to accentuate your cleavage to best effect, and if your skirt isn't revealing enough, a pair of scissors will remedy that situation in a jiffy.

Be an Elvira black cat

One of Halloween's iconic images — and popular costume choices — is the black cat. Their dark coats and shining green or yellow eyes make them appear more mysterious than cats of other colors, and for centuries, they were wrongly thought to be associated with witchcraft and evil. For a fun twist on the traditional cat costume, why not dress as an Elvira-inspired cat? 

You'll need a black bodysuit, or a long-sleeved black leotard and tights, plus a cat ear headband and a prop tail. Can't find a tail? Cut one leg off a pair of black stockings, stuff it with cotton or paper, and pin it in the appropriate place. Then, do your makeup and hair Elvira-style, paint your nails black, and you're good to go.

For the hair, Elvira wears a long black wig in a partial beehive updo. She once told Interview magazine that the style is actually known as a knowledge bump. "I'm not kidding, this is the real name," she said. You can either buy a black wig at a party shop or bump up your natural hair if it's long enough. This YouTube tutorial shows you how. Warning: A lot of teasing and spraying is involved.

Be an Elvira devil

In addition to the cat suggestion, the Mistress of the Dark's sexy style actually pairs well with another popular Halloween figure: The devil. This time of year, "sexy demon" outfits are easy to find at any costume stores or on Amazon. In fact, Amazon has this Devilish Darling Devil Costume starting at $42. If you're willing to splurge, they also have this Sexy Devil Costume starting at $57. 

Just imagine Elvira in a short red dress with knee-length black boots, devil horns and perhaps a cape, and she can rule not only the night, but the underworld as well. Come to think of it, Elvira's hairstyle and makeup would match well with just about any type of costume, if you want to try something unexpected. Imagine the vampy host as a waitress, a pirate, a superhero, a '50s sock-hop girl, a '20s flapper ... the sky's the limit!