Culture

All the witches we want to be for Halloween this year

From on-screen sorceresses to the rumoured hex-wielders of history.

From on-screen sorceresses to the rumoured hex-wielders of history

(Source, L to R: Viacom Productions/Paramount Television; Walt Disney Productions; Walt Disney Pictures; Michael Goi/20th Century Fox Television/FX; Albert Lynch/Wikimedia Commons)

While they've always been a Halloween hit no matter the year, there's no denying that witches are having a rightful renaissance in pop culture right now. Maybe it's all the TV reboots. Maybe our nostalgia for big screen covens of the '90s is hitting its height. Maybe it's the influx of women's voices finally being elevated through movements like #MeToo, while facing a familiar malignation at the same time. Or maybe it's all the "WITCH HUNT" cries coming from a certain person's Twitter feed. Whatever the cause, as someone who always answered "witch" when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I feel it is my personal duty to encourage you take advantage of this wave and go full wicca for Halloween this year.

Below you'll find a collection of enchantresses from history, movies and TV to serve as inspo when crafting your individual or group costume this year. We kept this list to a coven's worth of suggestions, so we couldn't fit every sorceress who's left us spellbound (sorry, Witches of Eastwick, Practical Magic, and Anjelica Huston in The Witches — we still love you!). But there are just the right amount to inspire some Halloween costume magic, and more.

The on-screen sorceresses

Sabrina Spellman from Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

(Left, source: Viacom Productions/Paramount Television; Right, source: Warner Bros. Television/Netflix)

Thanks to the highly-anticipated Netflix reimagining of this classic character, which conveniently drops just before Halloween, Sabrina Spellman is the natural choice for those who prefer their costumes to be in the heart of the zeitgeist each year. Since we already showed you how to channel Kiernan Shipka's Sabrina, it's time to turn our attention to the '90s conjurer who kept us hoping that maybe we'd wake up on our 16th birthdays with powers, too. For children of the TGIF era, Melissa Joan Heart's Sabrina was the Supreme — she had the coolest aunts, could stop time whenever she wanted and had epic Other Realm adventures with Salem Saberhagen, her talking feline who's as hungry for power as he is for pancakes. If you really want to go all out with your Sabrina, and are open to multiple costume changes, you could try to replicate each of the looks she tries on in the show's unforgettable opening credit sequence. But, if you're looking for something a little more low maintenance, opt for a simple, shiny strapless dress like Heart is rocking in the picture above, pair it with an of-the-era choker, and pop on a blonde bob wig. For your Salem — because, let's face it, he's a must if you're doing this costume — track down a black cat stuffie, or go for something functional like this black cat mug that can double as your drink cup for the night.  

Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Source: Raymond Stella/20th Century Fox Television)

Though she started off as a sheepish sidekick, it wasn't much of a surprise when Willow Rosenberg's tendency to solve the Slayer's problems with a trip to the Sunnydale High Library led her straight to spellbooks. And while there are many iterations of this powerful techno-pagan worth making your Hallows' Eve muse, Rosenberg's vengeful alter ego, Dark Willow, might be the most fun to play, despite the tragic circumstances that triggered her emergence. For this transformation, you'll need a black blouse (if you can find it, go for something high-neck with puffed shoulders and bell sleeves, like Willow wears in the image above), black pants, a shoulder-length straight black wig (or a longer one that you can chop to your desired length), and black contact lenses. Makeup will be key to nailing this look too, so be sure to pick up a waterproof eyeliner pencil for drawing on those branch-like veins and a black lipstick that'll last as you munch on candy throughout the night.  

Samantha Stephens from Bewitched

(Source: Robert Tobey/American Broadcasting Company)

When Bewitched premiered back in 1964, spunky housewife Samantha Stephens became the OG TV Witch, paving the way for countless future enchantresses. While she's often admired for her wit and her enviable wardrobe, Samantha's magical hijinks with her mortal husband Darrin actually gave us something much bigger: an on-screen exploration of a man sincerely grappling with the fact that his wife is more powerful than him — something that had never really been seen on television before. Naturally, this resonated with audiences who were dealing with shifting dynamics in their own homes as more women entered the workforce, and still does today when we watch the show in reruns.

To honour Samantha in all her '60s glory while keeping your costume easily recognizable, go with the traditional witch attire she sports in the series' opening credits and in the image above. All you'll need is a flowy, long-sleeved black dress, a black cape, an extra pointy witch hat, and a wooden broom from the dollar store. Bonus points if you can perfect that signature nose twitch (and find an accompanying sound effect!) in time for the big day.

Hermione Granger from Harry Potter

(Source: Roger Pratt/Warner Bros.)

If you were still trick-or-treating in the early 2000s, chances are you've already channeled Hogwarts' resident brainiac for at least one Halloween, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take the lionhearted heroine out for another spin. If you want to go the robes-and-all route, Gryffindor-style garb can be found at most big box Halloween stores, but we love the collegiate get-up pictured on Hermione above because it can easily be cobbled together from a trip to the thrift store — or even your own closet. Opt for a white oxford, a matching grey sweater vest and skirt, grey knee-high socks, and pull it all together with a gold and maroon striped scarf. Tease up your hair real big, and practice your "I can't believe I'm dealing with such amateurs" eye roll and you'll be all set.

The hex-wielders of history

Joan of Arc

(Credit: Jeanne d'Arc by Albert Lynch/Wikimedia Commons)

At the urging of visions she believed to be ordained from God, a teenage Joan of Arc did the unthinkable and left her peasant upbringing to help lead France to its first real victory in the Hundred Years' War of the 14th and 15th centuries. While her witch status is solely speculative, Joan was captured, subjected to a sexist trial for witchcraft at the hands of the British and then burned at the stake, so we'd say she's probably earned the honour at this point. Back in the cultural conversation thanks to this year's Met Gala, and Zendaya's incredible interpretation of her in particular, this martyr-turned-saint is the choice this Halloween for anyone who's already sporting Arc's on-trend cropped bob cut. For the night of, pick up a fake sword from the costume store and go the all-silver direction with metallic nails, chain-like jewelry, and a long shiny dress that you can add armour-style embellishments to with paper plates and aluminum foil.

Marie Laveau

(Left, credit: Marie Laveau by Frank Schneider/Wikimedia Commons; Right, source: Michael Goi/20th Century Fox Television/FX)

Now a Louisiana legend, Marie Laveau first rose to prominence in 1800s New Orleans as the owner of a beauty salon, before fully cementing herself as a powerful Voodoo priestess. While it would incorrect to classify Laveau as a "witch" in the traditional sense of the word, and "much that is known about her is blurred by conjecture and mythology", she's said to have used her hairdressing business to earn the trust — and subsequently, allllllll the gossip — of the city's elite, while selling charms and potions, and holding spiritual services that blended Catholicism with traditional African dance and a little bit of snake worship for good measure. All these years later, her tomb remains a tourist destination and she was recently portrayed by Angela Bassett on the Coven season of American Horror Story as a magical woman whose prowess can only be matched by the Supreme. Evoking Laveau's essence with a fictional witchy edge like Bassett did may require a trip to the costume store to get a gown that fits the time period, but you can seal the deal on this look with accessories like a wrapped head scarf and big gold hoops. Of course, if you're looking for something a little easier to pull off, go with Bassett's modern day depiction of Laveau in AHS and wear chunky rings, a printed shirt and DIY a pretend voodoo doll to carry around with you.

Stevie Nicks

(Source: The 'Tusk' tour book, photo by Herbert Worthington)

Okay, we know the whispers about Stevie Nicks' relationship to witchcraft are merely rumours (pun absolutely intended), but her penchant for all-black attire and appreciation of celestial forces has continued to fuel those fantasies since the days of Rhiannon. Nicks has recently embraced the association, playing a version of herself who's über-powerful sorceress on the Coven and Apocalypse seasons of American Horror Story, and that's enough for us to include her on this list of spellbinding sisters. To pay homage to the Gold Dust Woman this Halloween, drape yourself in layers of dark velvet, crimp your hair and accessorize with a moon-shaped pendant just like Stevie in the image above. Pick up a tambourine to bring with you to your celebration spot of choice and dance on into the night, Stevie-style.

The full coven

The Three Witches from Macbeth

(Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

While they may not be the flashiest witches on this list, these agents of chaos from Shakespeare's cursed tragedy were the first ones to ever utter the phrase "double double, toil and trouble" and honestly, what could be more iconic than that? The best part about this costume idea is that the trio has been reimagined so many ways across different adaptations of the play, you can kind of take them in any direction you want — as long as there's three of you. If you want to be traditional, wear black robes and dark eye makeup, or go full 1500s like the image above by fashioning your own Elizabethan ruff out of coffee filters. Modern depictions of The Scottish Play have portrayed the "Weird Sisters" as everything from backup singers to goth schoolgirls, so the possibilities are really endless with this one.

The Sanderson Sisters from Hocus Pocus

(Source: Hiro Narita/Walt Disney Studios)

While many of us watched Hocus Pocus wishing we could have adventures like Max and Dani (and wondering why our bedrooms were nothing like Max's incredible loft setup), it's the Sanderson Sisters, portrayed by Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy, who prove to be the film's clear stars. In fact, the devil-worshipping divas have become such pop culture fixtures in the years since its release that every time there are new rumours about a sequel, the internet goes into a total tailspin. If you and your BFFs happen to naturally fill out the blonde, brunette and redhead trifecta, you've probably at least considered this costume before, but maybe you were deterred by the difficulty level. Admittedly, doing this costume right will require some sewing skills, or at least a few trips to the Halloween store, so if you're looking for something sweet and simple this year, try one of the other trios on this list. That being said, to emulate the Sanderson Sisters as they appear above, you can repurpose a store-bought princess costume or thrifted fare with a few DIY touches, go all-out with the hair and makeup, and you'll be ready to begin the search for someone to light your Black Flame Candle in no time.    

Sarah, Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle from The Craft

(Source: Alexander Gruszynski/Columbia Pictures Corporation)

This '90s cult classic is arguably the defining witch story of its era for those whose fascination with sorcery skewed slightly darker than what Sabrina Spellman had to offer. Aside from being fashion icons, what made this coven of high schoolers so cool was their ability to relish in the power they'd harness together — it didn't matter that they were outcasts, they were the ones in the know, and they didn't need anyone else. Of course, the rumours that Fairuza Balk, who played Nancy, was a practicing wiccan herself helped add mystery to the movie's ethos too. Since the trends of The Craft's time are already back in style, this group costume will be incredibly easy to accomplish. Like the foursome pictured above, simply layer printed slip dresses over plain tees, throw an oversized leather jacket on top, grab a pair of chunky boots and accessorize with a pentagram necklace. Pull the whole look together with a little black lipstick and everyone will be able to tell which coven you're channelling.

The Halliwell Sisters from Charmed

(Source: Spelling Television/The WB Television Network)

We never could have anticipated the relevance this delightfully campy soap would have in 2018, but with several of its cast members emerging as fixtures in the news cycle (and inspiring amazing memes along the way) and a new reboot on the air, the show has cemented its place back in our cultural consciousness. Dressing up as Piper, Pheobe and Prue (or Paige, if you're more of a fan of the Rose McGowan era) is also a great excuse to take all your early aughts outfits out for a spin. For this costume, think Going-Out Tops in pastel hues like the Halliwells are rocking in the image above, along with low-rise jeans, minimalist makeup and absolutely no jewelry — that's really all you need to take the Power of Three out on the town.

Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and the Evil Queen from Snow White

(Left, source: Walt Disney Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures; Right, source: Walt Disney Pictures)
(Source: Walt Disney Productions)

Arguably, Ursula the villainous sea witch, Maleficent the vengeful fairy and Snow White's increasingly jealous stepmother known only as the Evil Queen are all A+ costume choices in their own right, but pairing them together as a Disney witch triad takes things to a whole other level. The nice thing about these choices is that they're mainstream enough that you'll likely be able to find pre-made costumes (or at least some of the accessories, like Maleficent's horned headpiece) at most big box Halloween stores, meaning you can turn your attention to mastering the hair and makeup required for these looks. This YouTube channel features pretty flawless makeup tutorials for each of the Disney witches as they appear above and the hair can be mimicked using temporary spray-on dye from the drugstore. And if one member of your trio isn't as keen on the commitment the costume will take, they can opt for the Evil Queen in her old woman disguise — a hooded black robe, long grey wig and simple aged-up makeup will seal the deal on that look.

Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West, and Glinda the Good Witch, from Wicked and The Wizard of Oz

(Source: wickedthemusical.com)

While just about anyone can appreciate the classic dichotomy of the wicked and good witches that The Wizard of Oz brought us, this costume is really for all the musical theatre-loving duos that are dressing up together. While Elphaba and Glinda (nee Galinda) start the show loathing absolutely everything about one another, their relationship quickly becomes the heart of the story and provides us with one of the most beautiful ballads about friendship in all of Broadway history. To pay homage to Elphaba as she appears above, you'll need some bright green body paint, a long, lacy black dress, a traditional pointy witch hat and a wooden broom from the dollar store. For Glinda's classic blue gown, repurpose a Cinderella costume from the store and pair it with a silver tiara and tight ringlets. The best part about this pair of costumes? They come with a built-in photo-op, since copying the memorable pose from the musical's poster all but guarantees that you'll kill it on Insta.

The coven from American Horror Story: Coven and American Horror Story: Apocalypse  

(Source: Michael Goi/20th Century Fox Television/FX)

On Wednesdays they wear black, and since Halloween just happens to fall on that day of the week this year, we can't think of a better time to tribute Ryan Murphy's collection of witches from Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. If you're looking for a super last-minute costume idea that can incorporate a big group of people and doesn't require much prep, then congratulations, you've just found your coven. While you can certainly dress with specific characters in mind, this group costume is all about putting that LBD that you already have in your closet to use. Pair it with sheers, black booties, big sunglasses, a gothic parasol (just like Jessica Lange's in the image above), a black cape or blazer to drape over your shoulders, and a floppy wide-brim hat — the traditional pointy style has no place in this fashion-forward girl group.