If you’re struggling for inspiration for your Halloween costume this year, a mask could be the perfect place to start. We’ve pulled together nine ideas you can recreate without having to hire a costume from a fancy-dress shop, from the classic to the contemporary and the subtle to the downright creepy.
If you’re aiming for evil, then you can’t get more menacing than Old Nick himself. A prominent face in Venetian carnivals, the Devil is the perfect choice for Halloween if you want maximum impact for minimum effort. Devil masks come in a variety of styles, from the realistic, traditional Venetian Volto Diavola Black and Red Devil mask to the subtle but ominous Iron Diavolo half face mask. You don’t have to go all out with your costume, as the Devil hides in plain sight. But if you want to make an impression, accessorize a smart suit with a red-lined cape to leave party-goers in no doubt as to your identity.
For a subtle but striking look, try pairing a simple black ensemble with the Red full-face Volto mask. You could add horns for extra impact, but this glossy red mask needs little embellishment.
If you suffer from coulrophobia – a fear of clowns – there’s nothing scarier than a white-painted face with blood-red lips. And the scariest of them all has to be the murderous Pennywise, the shape-shifting clown from Stephen King’s hit 1986 novel. The character has inspired a TV series and a 2017 movie reboot and is enough to give even the toughest of horror fans nightmares.
For a Pennywise look inspired by Tim Curry’s ‘80s TV interpretation, choose a colorful clown costume accessorized with a bouffant red wig. For a more menacing 21st century take channel Bill Skarsgard’s big screen portrayal with spiked orange hair, a white ruff and puff-sleeved shirt. Add a Volto Pagliaccio Full Face Crying Clown Mask to complete the look, and if you want to get really into character, carry a helium-filled red balloon so no one’s in any doubt who you are.
Channel the ultimate supervillain with a Halloween costume inspired by the Joker. A character who first made an appearance in DC’s Batman comic back in 1940, the character has had multiple makeovers, with his white face and manic grin always defining his trademark look.
Whether in print or on the big screen, the Joker is never understated, choosing colourful suits and clashing shirts; purple and green if you’re a DC purist, or a purple mac with a snakeskin-print shirt to channel Heath Ledger’s Joker in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Whatever incarnation is your inspiration, finish the look with wash-out green hair dye and a Joker Dark Full Face Mask. Then start practicing your maniacal laugh for maximum creepiness.
If you really want to give other partygoers the chills, base your Halloween costume this year on Michael Myers, the knife-wielding serial killer from John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween.
Such was the character’s appeal, the movie spawned seven sequels and a remake – all with the mute murderer hiding his identity behind a simple white mask. A sequel to the latest remake, starring original lead Jamie Leigh Curtis, is due out soon, so it’s a classic costume choice with contemporary appeal too.
You won’t need to spend a lot to get the look either. First, find the right mask – something simple like the Volto Bone Full Face Mask is a suitably creepy choice – then add a boiler suit, a short, disheveled wig, and a plastic knife.
It’s one of the most iconic moments in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror movie Psycho – the moment the camera pans on to Norman Bates’ mother rocking in a rocking chair, revealing a shadowy, desiccated corpse. The effects might seem dated by today’s horror movie standards, but even in black and white, this scene from 1960 is still a shocker, and it’s the perfect inspiration for a Halloween costume your friends really won’t be expecting.
Raid your local charity shop for a floral blouse or dress and add a knitted shawl for an old-lady look. Add a hair-up wig or, if you’ve got long hair, fasten it up in a low bun, then add a striking skull mask like the Teschio Luxury Skull Mask for a truly terrifying look.
And if you get tired of wearing your mask, take it off to be transformed into Norman pretending to be his mother. Either way, it’s pretty terrifying.
Originally a DC Comics character, V was catapulted to mainstream stardom with the release of the film adaptation of V for Vendetta back in 2005.
An anarchist hell-bent on revenge against a system that ruined his life, V hides behind a traditional Guy Fawkes mask to inspire members of the public to rise up and commit acts of widespread disruption.
In recent years, V’s mask – the V for Vendetta or Guy Fawkes mask – has become a symbol for anarchy and rebellion; every year, protesters across the world don the mask to march on government and it’s become a byword for anonymous protest thanks to its adoption by hacktivist protest groups.
If you’re taking your costume inspiration from the comic version of V, look to 17th-century protester Guy Fawkes, whose ruff and cape featuring in the original DC stories. The movie version is a simpler option – all you’ll need is a mask, close fitting black clothing and, if you’re feeling like going all out, a flowing black cape and wide brimmed black hat.
Traditionally a Mexican festival to pray for lost loved ones and support their spiritual journey, Día de Muertos or Day of the Dead has spawned a worldwide trend for colourful festivals and carnivals, with its colorful skull motifs even inspiring home decor in recent years.
Day of the Dead is a great Halloween costume inspiration if you want to add color to your look, or if you’re planning to head out on the town and want to be noticed. For men, a monotone mariachi costume accessorised with an oversized sombrero makes the perfect base for your look, while ladies can make the look their own with colourful embroidered skirts, crisp white shirts and floral waistcoats. Flowers play a big part in Dia de Muertos celebrations, so add floral garlands or headbands for extra colour and impact.
Central to the Day of the Dead look is a skull mask, embellished with painted motif, like the Volto Morte Maschile Full Face mask or the Volto Morte Day of the Dead mask. If a full face mask feels too restrictive, try a half face version like the Teschi Sig Morte Day of the Dead mask or an eye mask like the Colombiana Bella Morte for a mask you’ll be happy to wear all night.
If you’re heading to a high-end Halloween event and need a subtle, classy costume, the Phantom of the Opera is a perfect choice.
Based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel and immortalised in multiple movies and – probably most famously – in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running West End musical, which first debuted back in 1986, the Phantom is a disfigured musical genius living beneath the Paris Opera House, who becomes obsessed with beautiful soprano Christine.
The Phantom is famous for his half-face white mask, which hides his disfigurement – the Fanstame dell Opera is the perfect match, and you could up the glamour by choosing a silver or gold version, rather than the classic white. For a smart look for a costume ball, go for a simple black tux and white dress shirt with a white bow tie. If you really want to make an entrance, don’t forget your cape.
For a truly striking look that’s sure to get people talking, try taking your inspiration from the Venetian carnival. Masks are central to this traditional celebration, but perhaps the most iconic is that of the plague doctor.
This long-nosed mask was made famous by the carnival but was actually first made as a protection against the plague. The beak was often filled with flowers and sweet-smelling herbs – an attempt to mask the smell of disease which, in the 17th century, people believed actually carried the infection.
Plague doctors – or medico della peste to give them their Italian name – wore flowing black cloaks and carried long staffs to help them keep the diseased at bay. It’s a simple costume to create but the striking plague doctor mask is sure to make a real impression.
For an alternative traditional look, try the Nasone plain one-colour nose mask, available in white, silver or gold. For a more menacing look perfect for Halloween, choose the Zanni Bruno rich red-brown nose mask, or, if you want to add some theatre to your look, try an embellished version like the Scaramouche Gold long nose mask, finished with a gold leaf overlay.
There you have it, a few ideas, if you are not motivated by our top picks then take a look at our complete Halloween Mask range for more inspiration
Whatever you choose, a mask is a simple way to transform your Halloween costume into something truly terrifying.