Each year, we all go through the same dilemma over what Halloween costume we should wear. There are so many fascinating people and characters to dress up as, it’s hard to choose just one. We at GradeSlam believe that even during holidays, students should remain academically-inspired. That is why we’ve created a list of the best, most clever costumes that will be sure to impress! And the best part? Each one is inspired by history, literature, and culture, so not only will you have a unique costume, you’ll have a super cool story to go with it. Happy Halloween!

1. Rosie the Riveter

Historical Relevance: Rosie the Riveter was a character featured on a propaganda poster in the United States to persuade women to work in factories while the men were off fighting in World War II. Rosie has become a feminist icon today and represents the millions of women who worked in factories and shipyards to produce war supplies.

What You Need: Jean shirt, red polka dot bandana

2. Mary Poppins

Literary Relevance: Mary Poppins is the lead character in a series of children’s novels written by P. L. Travers. Mary is an English Nanny living in London and working for the Banks family.

What You Need: Black coat, long back skirt, red scarf, bowler hat, umbrella, large purse

3. Huckleberry Finn

Literary Relevance: Huck Finn is the leader character in Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Huck is thirteen, he is a bit of an outcast, and he is forced throughout the novel to survive on his own due to his absent father.

What You Need: Khakis, checkered shirt, suspenders, straw hat, fishing pole

4. Frida Khalo

Cultural Relevance: Frida Khalo was a Mexican artist born in 1907, well-known for her self-portraits. She is considered a feminist icon and is celebrated in Mexico for her contribution to national and indigenous culture.

What You Need: Fake flowers, red scarf, red lipstick, floral dress

5. Oliver Twist

Literary Relevance: Oliver Twist is the lead character in a novel of the same name written by Charles Dickens and published in 1838. Oliver Twist is an orphan living in nineteenth-century England during the Industrial Revolution. The novel depicts key themes of the era including child labour, crime, and the presence of street children.

What You Need: Dark pants, loose-fitting shirt, black vest, newsboy cap

6. HAM à la Scout Finch

Literary Relevance: In Harper Lee’s American classic To Kill a Mockingbird, the protagonist, Scout Finch, dresses up as a Ham for her school’s Halloween Pageant. The costume was made for Scout by Mrs. Crenshaw, who “took some chicken wire and bent it into the shape of a cured ham.”

What You Need: Materials for papier mache, brown paint, black permanent marker  

7. Mrs. Frizzle

Cultural Relevance: Mrs. Frizzle is the teacher on the popular children’s television program, The Magic School Bus. Mrs. Frizzle is wacky, loving, and very eccentric. Her outfits often reflect the lesson plan she is teaching and each episode she teaches her students about a new scientific concept.

What you need: A purple dress, felt stars and planets, a stuffed lizard, star earrings