Feminists Unite: Literary Costumes Inspired by 6 Badass Women!

in Fiction by

Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s time to finally decide on a costume. We’ve been rolling around ideas for weeks, but still haven’t been able to land on the perfect choice. Not only do we want something clever and fun, but we also want to show off our feminist side by going as a strong female character who inspires and empowers us.

Here at Booktrib, we like to turn to books for inspiration. And why not? There are tons of smart, strong women in literature to emulate this year. We’ve wracked our brains to round up some original ideas that we’re sure are going to be the hit of any party. Here they are, 6 of our favorite literary Halloween costumes – with an awesome feminist twist!


Wicked Gregory MaguireWhen Gregory Maguire published Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West in 2004, he wasn’t just writing a fun new story – he was launching a trend of reinvented fairytales that is still just as popular today. Main character Elphaba is so much more than a villain in this twisty take on The Wizard of Oz. She’s smart and free-spirited, fair and strong, and determined to do whatever it takes to help those less fortunate. Her life isn’t always easy, but her strength is admirable from the start, which is why she’d make the perfect feminist costume. Plus it’s simple! All you need is a black dress, a witch’s hat & broom, and enough body paint to turn all of your skin a charming shade of green:


Clary Fray

City of Bones Cassandra ClareWhenever anyone thinks of a strong literary heroine, they almost always picture Katniss from The Hunger Games. We are definitely not denying how badass Katniss is, but why not switch it up this year? Instead, try going as another kickass young adult heroine: Clary Fray, from the Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare. Clary is tough but still sensitive, artistic and strong. When her world is upended and she finds out her true fate as a Shadowhunter, the teen handles it with grace and smarts. Easily get her look with simple jeans and a t-shirt, a red wig, and plenty of temporary tattoo pens so you can draw the signature Shadowhunter runes all over your arms and face.

Clary Fray 

Zombie-fighting Elizabeth Bennet

Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesSure, you could go as the regular Elizabeth Bennet who is certainly awesome in her own right. OR you could go as her zombie-fighting version in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, adding another layer of badass to the iconic female character. The hard part about this costume is getting the regency style dress, though you can order some that look close enough, or make it from scratch if you’re handy with a sewing machine. Then comes the easy part – dousing it all in fake blood, ripping it up, and giving yourself a few zombie wounds. Complete the look with a fake blood-stained machete to show just how many of the undead you took down with you:

Pride & Prejudice & ZombiesLisbeth Salander

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Stieg LarssonIf you want to be a truly kickass literary heroine, then look no further than Lisbeth Salander, from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Lisbeth is crazy badass, insanely smart, and not afraid to get her hands dirty. Whether she’s enacting complicated revenge plots or hacking computers to take down the corrupt, she’s the kind of feminist icon we can definitely get behind. Her costume involves a lot of black – both when it comes to your hair and your clothes. Add a leather jacket, spiky jewelry and goth makeup and you have the perfect Lisbeth look:

Girl With Dragon Tattoo

Nancy Drew

The Secret of the Old Clock Carolyn KeeneSmart and plucky, the mystery-solving character of Nancy Drew has been inspiring girls for generations. Originally conceived of by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, the ghostwritten books are published under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. But the character has definitely surpassed the multiple authors over the years: Nancy Drew is one of those rare heroines whose popularity has never really diminished. She was even reinvented for modern audiences in a 2007 movie starring Emma Roberts. Get her look (combined with the ‘50s aesthetic) by pairing a bright sweater with a plaid skirt and a thick headband – and that classic magnifying glass, of course:

Nancy Drew

Arya Stark

A Game of Thrones George R.R. MartinWhen it comes to George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, we most often see people dressing as Daenerys Targaryen for Halloween (complete with long silvery wig and multiple dragons). But we’re more inspired by Arya Stark this year, played by Maisie Williams on the crazy popular HBO adaptation. She might be small, but she’s still tough as nails, and her costume reflects that. In order to get the young assassin’s look, you’ll need a plain blown shirt and pants, as well as a leather vest and belt to tie it all together. And don’t forget your sword, Needle, which just might save you from a jam or two:

Arya Stark

Which strong female literary character are you dressing up as this year? Let us know in the comments!

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Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

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