the perfect DIY halloween costume (circa 1996)

diary of this girl megan, harriet the spy costume, halloween

halloween is exactly two weeks away—may the costume shopping (or costume making) commence!

i have to admit, my costume plans are somewhat lacking this year. i typically spend a few days scavenging pinterest for inspiration before visiting my local thrift or consignment shop. once there, i browse both the costume and vintage sections before pulling together a look. (this year, i may or may not be most excited for the halloween treats!)

diary of this girl megan, halloween costume, harriet the spy

diary of this girl, halloween costume, harriet the spy

while babysitting earlier this month, my three-year-old friend informed me that “time is running out.” thus, my costume perusing began! i did a quick google search for “easy halloween costume” + “diy at-home costume.” my searches didn’t yield great results, but i felt my creative juices start flowing.

i popped over to pinterest (send help) and found 219,376 new images to pin (just kidding), but still wasn’t certain about a costume. suddenly, a movie character from my childhood came to mind—harriet the spy, a film based on the novel by louise fitzhugh. it seemed perfect! if you haven’t seen the 1996 movie, starring michelle trachtenberg, here’s a quick refresher: quirky tween living on manhattan’s upper east side with socialite parents; has a live-in nanny; carries a notebook (labeled “private”) everywhere in which she writes her deepest thoughts; determined to be a spy when she’s older; takes on the world one spy mission at a time!

“i want to learn everything i can, and write down everything i see. golly [harriet’s nanny] says if i want to be a writer someday, i better start now, and that is why i am a spy.”–harriet m. welsch (source)

the movie, featuring a young, fun female protagonist, is one i often watched at elementary school sleepovers! i recall being drawn to harriet’s engaging personality, elaborate “spy missions,” and iconic yellow trench coat.

diary of this girl megan, halloween costume, harriet the spy

diary of this girl megan, halloween costume,
diary of this girl megan, halloween costume, harriet the spy
costume preparation:

planning my look-alike costume was easier than i imagined. in fact, you can also dress up as harriet the spy with these simple steps:

first, locate your most comfortable (i.e. baggiest) jeans. during spy missions, it is essential harriet possesses freedom of movement—she can’t be constrained by dresses and/or skinny jeans! #aintgottimeforthat

next, pick up a black and white composition notebook at your local office supply or drugstore. adhere a large, capitalized note to the front, reading “private.”

third, dig out your favorite yellow raincoat. harriet the spy is often depicted on book and movie covers in her yellow trench. don’t have a yellow option in your closet? this adorable trench is less than $30!

last, round up your spy essentials, including (but not limited to) binoculars, a flashlight, practical sneakers, and of course, snacks to enjoy on-the-go!

diary of this girl megan, halloween costume, harriet the spy

photos by karya schanilec photography

sweatshirt: nordstrom (old), jacket: hunter x target, jeans: zara, sneakers: vans

“life is a struggle, and a good spy goes in there and fights.”–harriet m. welsch (source)

when putting together my harriet the spy costume, the only item i needed to purchase was a pair of red sneakers. to be honest, i could have worn something i already own, but i was desperate for an excuse to bring home red vans.

do you have plans for halloween? this is the first year i don’t have anything lined up, but i think i’ll debut my harriet the spy costume at my office (along with an extra large bag of chocolate). happy halloween!

p.s. i couldn’t help but dig through diary of this girl’s archives. here is last year’s costume. i also found this gem and this festive event recap—oh my!

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