The Ghostbusters costume – cheap and easy!

It’s that time of year again – time for me to haul out and dust off this old chestnut;

OK, if it’s not the 15th yet, a lot of what you need to pull together an authentic costume can be found in one stop over at GBFans – it’s really the best option going, and one that wasn’t available until the last couple of years. At GBFans you’ll find what are considered the “official” pieces of uniform. From flightsuits (khaki or grey, if you want to go all Ghostbusters 2), belts, gloves… even the fiddly bits that had no real purpose, but looked good. They have most everything, at fair prices, and if you order by the 15th, you should be able to get them by Halloween.

But what if some pieces aren’t available? Or it’s after the 15th?

You’re going to have to fake it. Time for plan B and hope for the best.


You’ve only got a couple of days left until Halloween and you’re lookin’ to make yourself a Ghostbusters costume. OK, first things first – you can’t have a proton pack. If you haven’t started building one already, putting one together before the 31st isn’t going to be easy. You’re on your own. But never fear. As they say, it’s the clothes that make the man (or woman, as the case may be).

First things first – since I first cobbled this feature together, ooh, three, four years ago, Rubies costumes have started making an off-the-shelf Ghostbusters costume, for both kids and adults – the costume even comes with an inflatable proton pack. While a little tricky to find last year, the first Halloween they were available, this year Target is offering them for sale – even online! You can even get a Sexy Ghostbuster costume, but I’m kind of against the whole concept of women buying the “sexy” off the shelf costumes. I’m all for sexy costumes, I just think part of the fun is pulling your own costume together. Buying it off a rack and then getting free drinks all night… cheating!

But maybe you still want a little challenge. Read on…

If you’re going hardcore, you might want to check this site out, but this here is the fast and dirty version of the costume. There are five, key elements to the Ghostbusters uniform. If you have these elements even remotely looking like they should, people will know exactly what makes you feel good – bustin’. They are;

Jump suit – The coveralls the guys wear in the movies are Air Force flight suits, which, if you have an Army Surplus in your area, you can probably find a pair there. However, if they don’t have them or don’t have them in your size (like, if you’re a kid) you should try work coveralls. There are a wide variety of coveralls available, most from hardware stores or places like Mark’s Work Warehouse, in a wide variety of price ranges. The ones pictured above are Dickies – old school coveralls.

They’re durable and cost about $30 – and they have the same diagonal zippers as in the movie. Nice. Typically they are carried by any store that sells work clothes, like for construction workers – steel toe boots, flannel shirts, that sort of thing. If you’re in Canada, head to Mark’s Work Wearhouse. They almost always have them.

If you’re in the United States, the easiest thing I can recommend is to hit the Dickies’ website. There, you can look up the pair you want and then have the website search for a retailer in your area. It works like magic. There are however many cheaper alternatives.

Elbow Pads – In the movies, the guys wore kneepads on their elbows. You can buy similar pads online, specifically the Markwort Vollyball pads, but the average Joe isn’t going to know or care how accurate they are. That said, you can check out the sporting good section at WalMart, but a better idea is to buy a pair of painter’s kneepads. Cheap and black in color. Perfect.

Ecto Goggles – Night vision goggles can be bought surplus, but man, it’ll cost you, so forget about it. Hit the Home Depot and buy a pair of welders goggles, like in the picture above. The pair above sells for about $15 bucks. The goggles alone will not be good enough though. Easiest thing is to get yourself an empty film canister (preferably the black ones, or you’ll have to spray paint the clear kind and who wants the hassle?) Then affix the canister over the right eye side of the goggles (two-sided tape or hot glue will do – both
will clean off the goggle lenses fairly easy)

GB Patch – This used to be tricky, but Hot Topics has started selling patches of the no-ghost logo. Since then I’ve also found many rock stores, head shops, and online stores also carry GB patches. From what I’ve heard, they’re not super high quality, but they’re better than making a color print out onto laser copy friendly, iron-on paper (which is an option if you can’t get to the Hot Topics.) Sew onto the right (name tag on left, logo patch on right) arm of the coveralls. If you’re not handy with the needle and thread, you can try Speed Sew or other fabric glues. Bear in mind though unlike needle and thread, you won’t be able to take it off cleanly again.

[UPDATE] Ebay is AWASH in patches. There is no excuse for not being able to find one, if you really want one. But as with all things, order sooner rather than later, or you won’t have it for Halloween.

Name Tag – This is tough. Many a fan has had an embroidery shop stitch them a nametag (you know the places – you find them in malls where they make “World’s Best Dad” sweat shirts.) If you know of one, go for it, they’re relatively cheap.

You could also do the laser printer, iron-ons options, but my favorite is black duct tape and red paint. Cheap. Easy. Place the name tag over the coverall’s left breast.

[UPDATE] I’ve found a gentleman in the states that will make you name tags – yours or one of the characters from the movies – for a decent price, fast. I wouldn’t leave it until the last minute, but if you order now, you can probably get it by Halloween. Check out his Etsy shop, and contact him through there.

So those are the must haves. What are the options (other than a proton pack)? Well, here are my suggestions;

Boots – If you have work boots, any kind (though black is best) will do. But nobody will be looking at your feet and if you want to boogie down at a Halloween party, just wear sneakers.

Gloves – I have a pair of surplus motorcycle gauntlets – black and leather. Sweet. But you can make do with a pair of black rubber gloves easy.

Belt – Have you been to the surplus store for anything? If so, ask for web belts. Cheap and pretty much what was used in the movies. If not, look for cheap, cheap, cheap, canvas belts (the wider, the better). Just don’t pick a dumb color (like pink or bright green). Try for something that will suit the coveralls.

You’re set! It ain’t perfect, but when you walk in a room, no one will mistake you for a cosmonaut. With a little frugal shopping (did I mention that thrift stores are a great place to find stuff? They are.) you can slap together the GB gear for under fifty bucks. Have fun Halloween night and make us all proud.

[originally run in Oct. 2001]

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