Halloween is a great chance to dress up and pretend be someone (or something) you’re not. Unfortunately, it can be hard to come up with the perfect costume idea, especially if you want to be unique. This is your chance to step away from the mass-produced vampire, clown, and superhero costumes.
Check out these nine Detroit-inspired Halloween costumes and put your creative genius to the test.
1. Harry Houdini
If you want a costume with more morbid roots, try your hand as Harry Houdini. The renowned magician died in Detroit on October 31, 1926.
To really get into your role as Houdini, look for a tailcoat and a nice pair of slacks. A white dress shirt and black dress shoes will complete your outfit. As for props, feel free to use anything that makes you think of the escape artist/magician – gag handcuffs, a top hat with a (hopefully) fake rabbit, lots and lots of colorful scarves strung together.
Bonus Idea: Since Houdini died in Detroit, you could always do a zombie version of the magician.
2. Henry Ford
One of Detroit’s most famous figures, Henry Ford forever changed the city and the nation. The man not only founded one of the most successful car companies, the Ford Motor Company, he also perfected the assembly line process, ushering in the era of mass production.
To pull off Henry Ford, you’ll need a three-piece suit with snazzy dress shoes. Though a pocket watch isn’t necessary, it would look cool. To drive home the point that you’re Henry Ford, you could consider walking around with a steering wheel.
3. Lem Barney
Often considered one of the greatest defensive backs in Detroit Lions history, Barney had an impressive career with the team. He remained with the Lions his entire professional career (1967-1977). He had 56 career interceptions and gained over 1,000 yards returning kickoffs and punts.
Grab a vintage Lions jersey with number 20 on it and a helmet that you can carry around (or wear). You can also rub some eye black under your eyes to reduce any glare from the party lights.
Not a football fan? No problem. Detroit has three other teams you can choose from.
4. Jimmy Hoffa
Forty years after the infamous labor union leader’s disappearance, the mystery lives on. Jimmy Hoffa served as president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from 1958 until 1971. Unfortunately, Hoffa’s career is marred by Mafia connections and a stint in prison.
However, what made Hoffa truly famous is his unsolved disappearance. He was scheduled to meet mobsters at the Machus Red Fox on the afternoon of July 30, 1975. Hoffa was never seen again. Multiple searches for his body turned up nothing, and investigators didn’t have enough evidence to convict the mobsters they believed were involved.
If you want to be Jimmy Hoffa, you’ve got a few options open to you. You can be Hoffa before or after his prison sentence, in which case you’ll need a suit and tie. Be sure to slick back your hair. If you can find union paraphernalia to carry with you, great.
Your other option is to be jailbird Hoffa. For this, you’ll need a black-and-white striped prison uniform (or a bright orange jumpsuit – whatever works). You could also carry a file with you for dramatic effect.
5. Sonny and Cher
This costume requires you grab a friend (or a significant other) and maybe belt out a song or two. Salvatore Phillip (Sonny) Bono was born in Detroit and lived in the city for seven years before his family moved to Inglewood, California. He managed to launch a successful music career with his second wife, Cher.
Sonny and Cher were chart toppers from the mid 60s to 70s, so grab anything that makes you think of that era. We’re talking bellbottoms, bright colors, paisley prints, go go boots, and flower power. Guys, if you’re going to pull of Sonny, you may want to look into either growing a mustache or buying one.
Songs you may need to know include “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” If you’re asked for a song, you’ll want to be able to deliver, right?
6. The Supremes/The Temptations
Do you want to do a group costume this year? Try dressing up as one of Motown’s famous music groups.
The Supremes are one of the most successful vocal groups of all time, with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Ladies, if you’re going to pull off The Supremes, think 60s classy. You’ll need matching outfits (preferably gowns) and stylish pumps. As far as hair goes, the bigger the better.
Guys, use this time as The Temptations to experiment with classy, flashy wardrobes and group choreography. The Temptations were a huge influence in the evolution of R&B and soul music, too, so be sure to let everyone you meet know it.
7. Francis Ford Coppola
Though Francis Ford Coppola spent much of his childhood in Queens, New York, he was born in Detroit. His father was a flautist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the elder Coppola’s appointment as principal flautist for the NBC Symphony Orchestra prompted the family’s move to New York.
Coppola has a long, illustrious resume that includes movies like The Rain People, The Godfather Trilogy, and Apocalypse Now.
Use your imagination with your Coppola costume. Wear a black turtle-neck sweater and matching beret. You’ll need a beard and a pari of glasses. For props, consider carrying a capperboard (the thing that people always hold up right before they yell “Action”) or a hand-held camera.
8. Berry Gordy
If you don’t want to dress as one of Motown’s musical acts, you can always go as the man who started it all. Berry Gordy founded the Motown record label in 1959, and the world has never been the same.
Grab a pinstripe suit and a snazzy tie for your Gordy costume. You can choose to grow out a beard or go clean-shaven. For props, consider taking a vinyl with you or grab a pair of headphones that you can wear. If the conversation gets boring, you can always slip them on and pretend to listen.
9. Piper Laurie
Born in Detroit as Rosetta Jacobs, Laurie changed her name in 1949, when she signed a contract with Universal Studios. She was a formidable actress and often played ferocious, flawed women to perfection. Laurie’s most memorable roles span multiple decades.
She co-starred with Paul Newman in The Hustler, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. She also filled the role of Margaret White in the 1976 film version of Carrie. That role netted her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Ladies, this is your chance to pull out all the Old Hollywood glamour you’ve ever dreamed of. Find a gown, a pair of heels, and style your hair to perfection.