Daria header a7aa4

Embrace ’90s Nostalgia This Halloween With These TV Character Costumes

by Francesca Volpe


According to the calendar, September 22nd is the first day of fall. But for many people, myself included, fall doesn’t start until mid-October, when the temperature drops and the drugstores break out the fake cobwebs. For me, Halloween and the days leading up to it are peak fall. It’s a season ripe with nostalgia. Gift bags featuring cartoon bats, ghosts, and other various Halloween iconography make me wistful for elementary school, when wearing a costume in public was considered a privilege. Some of the best parties I’ve ever been to were grade school Halloween parties. I stand by this. In third grade, our entire class got to go trick-or-treating in a haunted corn maze. Last Halloween, a mime threw up on my shoes.

So, the sentimentality for Halloweens past remains fresh. To quelch my regressive yearning, I’ve turned to the cartoons and sitcoms of my youth. Well, it just so happens that shows from the ’90s and early 2000s are a wealth of costume inspiration. So for any of you with a vague recollection of Kids’ WB and One Saturday Morning, here are some costumes honoring strong female protagonists with strong style.

1. Carmen Sandiego (Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Carmen 15c38“Think out your plan like a woman of action. Then act out your plan like a woman of thought,” via 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Villians’ International League of Evil (V.I.L.E.) leader Carmen Sandiego has graced our desktop and television screens since the mid-1980s. For many girls, Carmen Sandiego is the epitome of cool. She’s hyper-intelligent, always several steps ahead of everyone, and does it all in her iconic all-red ensemble. What many don’t know is that Carmen Sandiego is one of pop culture’s only Latina supervillains. Named after the Portuguese-Brazilian actress and singer Carmen Miranda, the original “Lady in Red” made her first appearance in the 1985 computer game Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? The games became inspiration for a ’90s kid’s game show, and then an animated series with Rita Moreno providing the voice for Carmen. Carmen Sandiego’s fashion sense is inextricable to her character, making her a fabulous Halloween costume. Her overall look includes:

• An oversized, crimson trench coat and matching hat (based on the sombrero cordobés) that she wears cocked to the side, revealing a single, arched eyebrow.

il 642xN.1422847972 3s69 a0e13Vintage Red Trench Coat, knctdStudio, $49.99, via Etsy

il 642xN.1638408346 aasv a9b6eVintage Full Brim Red Hat, RetroRebelTrading, $35, via Etsy

• Black leather gloves

il 642xN.1643280933 kss6 a3bf1Black Slim Fit Leather Gloves, LesDebutantes, $19.99, via Etsy

• A yellow scarf

il 642xN.1440281198 hsdm 7e178Gold Scarf, AllSeasonsBoutique, $13.09, via Etsy

• Tight black pants

il 642xN.1293772568 cvyy 20136Black Vegan Leather Pants, FloAltelier, $79, via Etsy

Carmen Wig d2273Costume Cosplay Wigs, BLUBOON, $19.99, via Amazon

Eyebrow Kit 635faEyebrow Editor Complete Brow Kit, Sephora Collection, $9, via Sephora

Maxine Gibson (Batman Beyond)

Maxine Gibson 3513f“Just don’t call me Robin,” via Warner Brothers

The smartest student at Batman Beyond’s Hamilton Hill High School, with a genius level intellect, Max Gibson creates computer software designed to uncover Batman’s true identity. When she discovers Terry, the second coming of Batman, she becomes his trusted ally. Max is an invaluable asset to Terry and Bruce Wayne, so it was a real bummer when she didn’t become the next Batgirl. That one needs a rewrite. Maxine’s style is reflective of futurist fashions of the early 2000s, à la The Matrix.

Pair some sleek black pants with a yellow and black sleeveless turtleneck (or your variation of such) and a black armband. A silver belt and matching sneakers are a nice contrast with Max’s fuschia pixie cut and rust-colored lipstick. Finish the look with a swipe of black eyeliner and mascara.

il 642xN.1644435813 hgj2 d5aacVintage Yellow Black Top, JustGiza, $28, via Etsy

il 642xN.1293772568 cvyy 008c1Black Vegan Leather Pants, FloAltelier, $79, via Etsy

il 642xN.457698297 2b8d ba41dBlack Leather Wristband, LuckyDogLeather, $29.71, via Etsy

il 642xN.1425394687 t455 47ac0Women’s Silver Belt, SAVOPOULOS, $26.93, via Etsy

il 642xN.1687729359 blam 3319aSilver Metallic Holographic Unicorn Mermaid Pastel Grunge Kawaii Fashion Vegan Unisex Sneaker Trainer Shoes, PUNKDIMAGE, $32.73, via Etsy

Max Lipstick 8748aBe Legendary Lipstick in Screen Queen, SMASHBOX, $21, via Sephora

Max Eyeliner 05421Got Inked Cushion Eyeliner, Stila, $14, via Sephora

Mas Mascara 9ec08Perfect Up Styling Mascara, BLACK UP, $24, via Sephora

611mUxSyiOL. SX522 6c2a8Amplified Hot Hot Pink 4oz via, Manic Panic, $14.50, via Amazon

Jane Lane (Daria)

Jane Lane Daria ca620“Every cloud has a smoky gray lining,” via MTV

Fantastically cynical with the same biting wit as her bestie Daria, Jane Lane is a lover of the arts, a painter, a sculptor, and a condemner of the conventional. Jane’s style and overall demeanor is more extroverted than Daria’s. Her look isn’t difficult to replicate, aside from the severe haircut and piercings. What’s great about this particular costume is that it consists of mainly separates that you can get more wear out of in your day to day. More bang for your buck. If you’re looking for more of a costume, you can play up Jane’s cartoon status à la Katy Perry with an oversize asymmetrical black wig. If you want to live like a cartoon, the brand JumpFromPaper makes amazing bags that appear 2 dimensional at first glance. But back to the basics of Jane’s lewk. You will need: 

• Charcoal or black shorts

il 642xN.1580577650 mb7z aed281950s Charcoal Pinup Shorts, GardenPartyPieces, $45, via Etsy

• Black tights

il 642xN.1013195191 2xpr 9569fBlack Lace Tights, swingingchicksshop, $22, via Etsy

• Dark, heavy boots

81u74DE2r4L. UY395 a75f7Dr. Martens 1460 Originals Eight-Eye Lace-Up Boot, $88.99, via Amazon

• A black v-neck tee (bonus points if you can find one with gray or white lining the neckline)

il 642xN.1474814548 3w50 401a6Vintage Black Midi V Neck Dress with White Collar and Sleeve Detail, MiddleScout, $35, via Etsy

• A red blazer (the more oversized, the more cartoonish)

il 642xN.856047649 3pxi 60e81Vintage Red Blazer, TheVilleVillage, $26, via Etsy 

Jane Bag 57919Graffiti Black Spaceman Backpack, $120, via JumpFromPaper

Daria Wig eb42eWomen’s Lola Wig, Fever, $23.24, via Amazon

Max Lipstick 8748aBe Legendary Lipstick in Screen Queen, SMASHBOX, $21, via Sephora

Daria Morgendorffer (Daria)

Daria Morgendorffer 0ea65“I don’t like to smile unless I have a reason.” via MTV

Arguably the least animated of cartoon characters, Daria Morgendorffer was first introduced to us as a sarcastic voice of reason to Beavis and Butthead’s idiocy. Her dark humor and observations proved too funny for her not to have her own series. An intelligent high school student who hates the politics of high school, she keeps a low profile, which translates to her look. She can usually be found wearing an orange t-shirt with a forest green jacket, a black pleated tennis skirt, and combat boots. Her trademark round glasses, mop of brown hair, and disinterested smirk complete her look.

il 642xN.1632200997 svth 51437Large Round Secretary Preppy Schoolboy Clear Lens Eyeglasses, SunglassMuseum, $25, via Etsy 

il 642xN.1292523518 n8b0 2ee9eBlack Pleated Skirt, skydancepl, $27.33, via Etsy

il 570xN.1184968268 lfeh e644fMillitary Green Hoodie, SaveThePeople2016, $27.07, via Etsy

il 642xN.1448990866 fedv 628b1Plain Orange Pocket T-Shirt, LostHighwayVTG, $27.20, via Etsy

81u74DE2r4L. UY395 b462cDr. Martens 1460 Originals Eight-Eye Lace-Up Boot, $88.99, via Amazon

Daria Wig cba08Women’s Long Curly Wigs Full Hair Dark Brown Wigs for Halloween/ Cosplay Party, Magma, $11.99, via Amazon

 Shana Elmsford (Jem and the Holograms)

Shana Elmsford 34d3c“Tonight was amazing and I’m going to hold onto this feeling as long as I can!” via Jemsworld

Backup vocalist, bass guitarist, former drummer and costume designer for her band Jem and the Holograms, the multi-talented Shana favors a purple color palette starting with her fashionably disheveled curls. She performs her many talents in a purple dress, white motorcycle jacket, and white, strappy heels. Orange eyeshadow, two pink streaks on her cheeks, and some heavy, gold statement earrings finish off this glam-rock ensemble.

Shana wig 16f36Curly Bob Wig, Leg Avenue$19.99, via Amazon 

il 642xN.1633155484 hzcf 1ed7fVintage 80s Prom Dress Purple Strapless Sweetheart Neckline Bubble Skirt, susiesboutiquecloths, $75, via Etsy 

Shana Jacker 923caYucatan Bay 1980s White Leather Cropped Motorcycle Jacket, lightandshadevintage, $90, via Etsy

Shana Shoes 489a3White Leather Block Heels, ForeverSoles, $139.82, via Etsy

il 642xN.1614449620 buxq 0f139Open Angle Earrings, DesignsbyDannaValko, $24, via Etsy 

il 642xN.1549260776 ta01 f68e4Vintage 80s Gold Braided Hoop Earrings,NeueWelt, $15.30, via Etsy

Fenty Palatte c0c7dMoroccan Spice Eyeshadow Palette, FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA$59, via Sephora 

Fenty Highlighter 6e058Killawatt Foil Freestyle Highlighter Duo, FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA$36, via Sephora

Orange Red Lipstick 3df99Audacious Lipstick in Lana, NARS, $34, via Sephora

Pepper Ann Pearson (Pepper Ann)

Pepper Ann b5f76“What the fuzzy?” via ABC

Who’s that girl? What’s her name? Is she cool? Is she lame? She’s Pepper Ann Pearson, lover of pizza, comics, video games, books, and soccer. Much too cool for seventh grade, she parades the halls of Hazelnut Middle School with her best friends Nicky and Milo. Bold and unique with a rich interior life, she’s her own biggest fan. Pepper Ann has a vivid animation in which her normal, adolescent challenges are transformed into fantastical feats of triumph. She’s marchin’ in her own parade. Alright, I’m done quoting the theme song. Pepper Ann favors the colorful, sporty athleisure of the late ’90s. She holds her curly red mane back with a blue scrunchie that matches her leggings. Pair an oversize purple t-shirt with a groovy printed skirt. Complete the look with some Converse and wire frames.

il 642xN.1291226813 7pl0 c2524Deep Blue Velvet Hair Scrunchies, TopKnotFavors, $2.75, via Etsy

il 642xN.1387415468 fddi 83b2580s Workout, Jazzercise Costume, RIPandROSE, $45, via Etsy 

il 642xN.1610441621 nhg7 2e30e80s Vintage Purple T-shirt Blouse, paws4harry, $10.93, via Etsy

il 642xN.1594542048 7ru1 021dbVintage Eyeglasses 1990s, hisandhervintage, $25, via Etsy 

il 642xN.1534772270 ch0u f904bPink and Green Diamond patterned Mini Skirt, MollyMadeMars, $39.62, via Etsy 

Chucks 9a3cfUnisex Chuck Taylor All Star High Top Sneakers Black/White, Converse$51, via Amazon 

Pepper Ann Wig 428e3Women’s Fluffy Wavy Party Halloween Costume Merida Wig, Angelaicos$25.99, via Amazon 

Natasha Fatale (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends)

Natsha Fatale ccff5“SHARRUP YOUR MOUTH!” via NBC 

A spy from the fictional country of Pottsylvania, Natasha takes glee in her criminal misdeeds. Along with her partner Boris Badenov, they report to Fearless Leader and get into shenanigans with Rocky and Bulwinkle. A caricature of a “femme fatale,” hence her last name, her look is severe. Turn up the volume with your hair and makeup, i.e. dark lips, dark eyeshadow, and brows arched up to your forehead. For a ’40s-style ‘do, sleep with foam rollers in over-night. Then, when you remove them the next day, tease the waves a bit, and then secure them with bobby pins. For clothing, a form-fitting dress and some stilettos are all you need.

il 642xN.1490974286 qf7e 748f01980s/1990s Party Club Dress, PsychedelicPinup, $28, via Etsy 

il 642xN.1155458476 ek3g 8484c1950s Black Stiletto Heels, Nestdesignstudio, $64, via Etsy

Natasha wig e2fb2Women’s Burlesque Beauty Wig, Fun World, $14.95, via Amazon 

71RPWWHm5JL. SX522 68228Foam Hair Rollers Curler Clips No Heat For Long/Short Hair Soft Style sleep Hair Rollers Care wig cap set, MC MAGIC CURLER, $12.99, via Amazon

51QjLXKYEL. SX522 b0ce8Black Premium Bobby Pins Black, MetaGrip, $10.20, via Amazon

Fenty Palatte 7e611Moroccan Spice Eyeshadow Palette, FENTY BEAUTY BY RIHANNA, $59, via Sephora

Eyebrow Kit 1f1c8Eyebrow Editor Complete Brow Kit, Sephora Collection, $9, via Sephora

Falsies 5a889Eyeshape Lash Kit, VELOUR LASHES, $45, via Sephora

Natasha Lipstick 58829Be Legendary Lipstick in Violet Riot, SMASHBOX, $21, via Sephora

Judy Funnie (Doug

Judy Funnie 2c834“My soul throbs.” via Nickelodeon 

The older sister I’ve always wanted, Judy Funnie wears her sunglasses inside and doesn’t give a fuck if you think she’s being dramatic. She’s too focused on her artistic ambitions and spreading her poetic gospel. Decked out in a purple sweater dress with a matching beret atop her red undercut, this girl commits to what she wants and believes. Don’t forget a black turtleneck and Birkenstocks to bring it on home.

il 642xN.1668800257 b4xr 5c826Flat Black Wayfarer Sunglasses, JoeyLaMeche, $20.37, via Etsy

il 642xN.1594986142 bjre 7b780Vintage Plum Lambswool Beret, everyoneinhats, $24, via Etsy

il 642xN.1347801135 73vh 3ba8890s Sweater Dress, JUNKKYARD, $11.10, via Etsy

il 642xN.1659868593 bxhq 91927Vintage Black Chenille Turtleneck, INOVintage, $40, via Etsy

Judy Shoes efb87Arizona Soft Footbed Smooth Leather, $135, via Birkenstock

Judy Wig 620d1Women’s Lola Wig, Fever, $23.42, via Amazon

Fran Fine (The Nanny)

e738d71bfee8b1266783e617e7b42533 99d5f“What’s this? Oh, it’s my shrink’s bill… *boy* am I unhappy!” via CBS 

She has style, she has flair in a world of vanity fair. She’s the lady is red when everybody else is wearing tan. Fran Fine, that flashy girl from Flushing, has a wardrobe that has since achieved icon status, thanks to costume designer, stylist, and color expert Brenda Cooper, who set the tone for the Nanny’s first four seasons. Always treading the line between cutting-edge chic and over-the-top, Fran wore some colorful looks by Moschino, Thierry Mugler, and Todd Oldham, eliciting waves of ’90s nostalgia. The Instagram account @whatfranwore is an incredible source of inspiration. Dedicated to the icon herself, it’s a massive catalogue of all of Fran’s best looks throughout the series. With so many looks to choose from, you’ll have just as much fun putting this costume together as you will sporting it. There’s so much creative freedom with this costume, because Fran’s style is more about attitude. She wears those clothes, not vice versa. Yet some classic attributes of her overall look include:

• A mountain of curly, dark hair. Seriously, the bigger, the better. Fran usually styles it half-up, half-down, with an emphasis on height and volume. Bring out the curling irons and any heat protective products and tease away. Bonus points if you have a “bump-it.”

713JemzCy2L. SX522 8ccaaBig Bumpits Happie Hair Volumizing Inserts Hair Pump Beauty Set Tool Gift,Pack of 5 (Black), Tinksky, $6.99, via Amazon

Fran hair d8977Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Heat & UV Protective Primer, BUMBLE AND BUMBLE, $28, via Sephora

Fran curling iron 84550The Wrap Party Styling Wand, DRYBAR, $165, via Sephora 

Fran wig ba831Costume Cosplay Wigs, Wiwigs, $19.99, via Amzon

• Blazers with mini skirts and black stockings. The classic cut of her outfits was a chic way of contrasting the outrageous colors and patterns.

259f8b3cae1eead7fe2b4e7deffe0b11 4a093via CBS 

5ecc33f8f5372f55f301c15c0ad5a67a 2ac3fvia CBS 

il 642xN.1632973376 jlnn d4f651990s Black White Houndstooth Jacket Blazer, PsychedelicPinup, $30, via Etsy

il 642xN.1639174810 vlw3 8459190s Yellow Suit Mini Skirt, PsychedelicPinup, $42, via Etsy

il 642xN.1306222302 o6bx bde90Costume Skirt and Jacket, TropicalaffaireES, $83.75, via Etsy

il 642xN.1516415411 hdji 521bb90s Olive Green Boucle Knit Blazer Jacket, badatpettingcats, $18, via Etsy

il 642xN.1619269334 dnq4 cd1a7Vintage Red Blazer, RubyVintageBoutique, $34, via Etsy

• Any bright colors with bold patterns. Bonus points if you can find a matching set. Fran loved matching her blazers to her mini skirts.

Fran orange 06963via CBS

53e19ae6d5d324f86b37caeac319b191 e88ccvia CBS 

il 642xN.1591248583 ae0r 8daafVintage Colour Block Suede Mini Skirt, flashtrashvintage, $47.56, via Etsy

Fran rainbow 6a980via CBS 

il 642xN.1677204089 4sln 83778Vintage Moschino Ribbon Top, TrendListr, $109.04, via Etsy

il 642xN.1426705424 pcd4 5ab27Vintage Moschino Polkadots Trucker Jacket, TheBBAclothingStore, $80, via Etsy

il 642xN.1416842406 crdh 26b3790s Black and Red Rayon Cropped Lightweight Jacket, badatpettingcats, $24, via Etsy

il 642xN.1628509215 71x6 61fc3MOSCHINO 1990s Vintage Rainbow Mini Dress Multi-Coloured Shift Dress, vintageonwerth, $336.50, via Etsy

• Animal print: because nothing says “they’ll still be talking about me years from now!” more than a leopard-print suit.

8d6d11f059d367e247d6e2d8a217eadb d73ccvia CBS

b355c39097e1f1b5b2c3a1cf257ca694 5c706via CBS 

il 642xN.1321820619 dlaf 895aa80 Leopard Print Blazer, JUNKKYARD, $42, via Etsy 

il 642xN.1125206264 6aj6 bdb9fFrench Vintage Leopard Blazer, YouLookAmazing, $49.37, via Etsy

il 642xN.1639815568 nvgo 5b55390s Leopard Print Fun Fur Mini Skirt, HouseOfHabits, $31.84, via Etsy

il 642xN.1687254455 p7zd 0c7bcLeopard Print Velvet Mini Skirt High Waisted, BOODWAH, $40.77, via Etsy

• Red lipstick and a wide range of facial expressions. You’ve got a personality to match your fuzzy orange coat.

dc8e2d5a675f4acfafb3b79e1f760dce 7fab8via CBS 

38623d94369085e5df359fe8f2db4339 dc60fvia CBS 

Fran Lipstick eab31Be Legendary Lipstick in Bing, SMASHBOX, $21, via Sephora

il 642xN.1406408518 mpel 3cd4bVintage Faux Fur Coat, smockwalkervintage, $38.40, via Etsy

il 642xN.1427005687 d7p1 eaa25AS Orange Faux Fur Jacket AliseSmile, $100, via Etsy

il 642xN.1608356027 3pkg f8d2dUnisex faux fur coat, BLNKStudioUK, $47.56,via Etsy

Header photo Daria, MTV

More from BUST

How To Make The Ultimate DIY Haunted House For Halloween How To Make The Ultimate DIY Haunted House For Halloween 

The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival Features Incredible Films, By Woman, That Are A Total Mind F*Ck

Victorians Wore These Elaborate Costumes To Fancy Dress Balls

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.