The traditional ghost costume in the United States consists of an old bed-sheet thrown over a person’s head with a few holes cut out for the eyes.Most decorative ghosts and ghost props are based on the bed-sheet look.
The cartoon Casper the Friendly Ghost is similar to the bed-sheet look, but with a human head and hands and the ability to move from being invisible to visible at will.
All easily recognizable ghost costumes are white or grey and most are ragged and flowing. Since ghosts are supposed to represent dead people coming back to haunt the living, the makeup tends to imitate a dead body and the clothes are either what the dead person wore in life, or what the person was buried in. Ragged and torn clothes create a crawled-out-of the grave look and pristine (but white) clothes represent a dead person who believes he or she is still alive – or is simply aware enough to purposely return to the living and, therefore, dressed for the occasion.
An interesting costuming tidbit – the addition of blood to the mouth area of death-white face makeup, combined with a ghost costume will transform the look into something leaning more toward either a zombie or a vampire.
Also, the difference between a ghost and an angel or a fairy is the lack of a pair of wings and/or a halo, and the make-up. The face makeup of angels and fairies represent a vibrancy that is the exact opposite of the death-face. In the case of fairies, the most common make-up includes a large amount of color and glitter, highly inspired by flowers and raindrops (not clowns). Angels, on the other hand, tend to lean toward the rosy faces of cherubs, or a paleness that leans more toward something drawn from starlight and snow.
If you are looking for a costume that can be re-purposed into something that can be used during the annual Holiday/Christmas play, then consider using a ghost costume that can be transformed into a winter Angel.
Family of Ghosts
If you are looking for an easy costume idea for the entire family, then ghosts may be the perfect option. Here are several costumes that provide examples of the variety of ways tan easily recognizable ghost costume can be created: