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Make Your Own Women in Binders Costumes

Updated on October 3, 2014

Make your own binder to wear! Remember, all women belong in binders. And all binders deserve to be full of women.

Are you a lonely woman without a binder? Looking for a really easy, ridiculous and political costume? Don't want to wear a 'sexy' costume and want to hide inside a nice secure binder? Just really, really fond of stationery? Why not get together with your friends and become women in binders for Halloween?

A giant binder is really easy to make; you just need card or foam posterboards, some glue or duct tape and something to hang it over your shoulders with. And you can have a lot of fun decorating it! You can leave it plain, stick labels and stickers on it, turn your kids loose on it, paint it in theme (e.g. Halloween, politics) or just go arty and wild making it into a giant patterned outfit!

What's this all about? - Why would you want to dress up as office stationery?

This is a political meme based on a comment by Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate about being handed "Binders Full of Women" when he allegedly* asked for a list of qualified women to hire, not knowing any himself.

*(Womens' rights groups have since come out to say that actually, they came up with the idea of giving him a collection of resumes, he never asked for it at all).

Are you a women in a binder?

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Tri-Fold Display Boards or Flat Poster Boards? - There are two easy ways to make this costume

Corrugated Presentation Display Boards, 48 x 36CHECK PRICE

If you buy a tri-fold poster board, then you can stand inside it and not worry about trying to make the 'spine' of the folder.

To turn it into a binder:

  1. Cut the spare/outside flap off, so that you have a full back flap and half a front one.
  2. Glue another piece of poster board onto the half flap.

If you have three flat pieces of board, then you can:

  1. Cut one to make the spine
  2. Duct tape the pieces together, leaving a gap to allow them to fold up

    Either way, once you've created your basic binder, you can attach handles or straps inside and decorate!

Materials you can use

  • Card or foam display boards
  • Really large cardboard boxes that can be cut up (a flat screen TV box would be ideal!)
  • Real poster boards/ show card/ railroad board

Make sure that it is big enough to cover you and not too flimsy.

Step One: Cut the Spare Flaps Off - Take two trifold boards and cut the end flap off each one

View from above of two tri-fold display boards and where to cut the flap off each one
View from above of two tri-fold display boards and where to cut the flap off each one

Luckily the display boards all seem to come in packs, so you'll get at least two (and maybe some spares - or enough for a whole group of binders!).

Cut one short flap off each binder; make sure that they're at the same end (or that you can turn one upside down and have it look exactly the same!).

Step 1a: Trim Ends of Boards - Trim off the ends of the boards to avoid overlap

Trim the ends of each board where indicated
Trim the ends of each board where indicated

This is an optional step and really depends on how thick your board is (and how perfectionist you are!). To stop the board jutting out and looking uneven when you stick it together, you can trim it now. Try putting them together as in Step 2 and deciding if it's worth doing.

  • If it's thick enough for an overlap to be noticeable, then trim the end of the first board and the end of the FLAP of the second board by the width of the board.

  • You can also trim the spine flap(s) down if you want a smaller spine. But remember that you've got to fit inside it.

  • You can trim the long piece later anyway, but it's easier to do it now. And once you stick the flap together in Step 2, you won't be able to come back and redo it.

Step Two: Glue Your Binder Together - Glue the pieces together to make your binder!

Glue the pieces together
Glue the pieces together

Glue the two short flaps one inside the other to create the binder. Nice strong craft glue should do the trick here - you may need to clamp the pieces together a little. Putting the pieces on the floor and piling heavy books on top should do the trick if it's not sticking properly.

You could also just duct tape it together (leave space for it to bend and remember that it will show on the outside if you do it this way).

Step 3: Measure For the Straps - Try it on for size and figure out how long the straps need to be and where they should go.

Try on your binder and decide where the straps should go!
Try on your binder and decide where the straps should go!

You could walk around holding this costume up, but it would be much easier to wear if you actually added straps to hang it off your shoulders.

At this point, once the glue has dried, you should be able to try the binder on and see how high up you want it to be and how far about your shoulders are relative to the binder. Measure out lengths of whatever you're using as straps (could be cloth or string or rope - or you could buy 'real' shoulder straps, or borrow a couple off a bag, You could also use ribbons!).

Whether you use one strap or two, and how strong it is, will depend on your personal preference, budget and how heavy you find the binder. I recommend using an Ergonomic Shoulder Strap Pad, which will hold any strap or string you use securely on your shoulder and distribute the weight of the binder comfortably (they're awesome for general use as well). This way, you won't have to worry about the comfort of the string. Of course, if you find the binder very light (and it should be!) then you'll only need string to hold it up.

Decide which way you will face while wearing the costume

Are you a traditionalist or a radical binder glider?
Are you a traditionalist or a radical binder glider?

You can orient them in either direction.

  • The Traditionalist: the more classic 'woman trapped in a binder with the straps going from one side to the other' look
  • The Binder Glider: 'whee I can flap my binder open and closed for take off' look.

Step 4: Attach the Straps - Glue or tie the ribbon or string to the boards

Remember which end goes where!
Remember which end goes where!

Depending on what you're using as straps, you can either just glue the ribbon or string straight onto the board (especially if you have good glue and the binder is very light) or poke holes into the top of the board and tie it off.

Alternatives/optional modifications:

  • Cut a half circle into the top of the spine for your arm to rest in comfortably

  • Cut actual arm holes in the spine or the binder (depending on which way you're facing)

  • Attach the binder leaves to your wrists and flap like a graceful womanly butterfly

  • Attach a strap/ribbons inside the binder to the back leaf or the spine and tie around your waist

Step 5: DECORATE! - Plain or floral, scribbled on or businesslike?

How will you decorate YOUR binder?
How will you decorate YOUR binder?

Actually, you can decorate at any point. But if you're sticking labels and things on, it makes sense to do it at the end after the cutting and the gluing is safely out of the way.

This version requires foam board (and a lot of it!) and a lot of duct tape. It's probably much sturdier and has the added extras of internal rings and pages

Foam Boards - Light and sturdy but not bendable

Rectangular foam boards will be nice and light and should hold up to be being worn and cut up very well. They're a solid colour and can be painted easily. One advantage over the cardboard options is that the backing should be the same colour as the front.

However, they're not going to bend very well, so you'll have to actually glue or otherwise attach the pieces to the spine with a little bit of care. I fyou can find a pre-folded tri-fold foam board, then that's awesome.

Cardboard Boards - Lighter and cheaper but less sturdy

Cardboard display boards are a lot cheaper and easier to bend yourself if you need to change the length or angle of the folds. However, they tend to have plain brown backs (you can reverse the direction of the fold, obviously, but it's something to consider) and will get soggy if it rains.

How Many Women Should You Try and Fit In This Binder?

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Binders That Have Been Checked For Women - Assiduous reviewers have carefully inspected these binders for fit, function and number of women inside

Political Humour Books About the 2012 Election - Some topical political reading to go with the binder!

More Halloween Costume Ideas!

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Edgar Allan Poe is a famous writer, most particularly for his poem featuring the raven that quoth 'Nevermore'. He's also easy to dress up as, and a great exc...

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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Yay! I'm so glad you liked it! Learning about how we fit into the bigger world is such an intropamt concept for kids. Keep reinforcing it and their budding geography skills will continue to grow:).

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

      June Parker 

      6 years ago from New York

      Such a fabulous idea! I love Barbara Casey's idea about going to the voting booth wearing one. LOL. *Blessed by a Dark Angel*

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What an excellent public service. Wonder if they'd let you into a voting booth with one on?

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 

      6 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Love this! Very clever - and very well done for something totally silly! Women in Binders should be a huge hit at any Halloween gathering!

    • jlshernandez profile image


      6 years ago

      Great idea and so current. Thanks for sharing this funny tongue-in-cheek costume.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 

      6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I'm always looking for silly - the funnier the better. Great instructions!

    • rjvader profile image


      6 years ago

      I like how you went into such great depth to mock Romney, good stuff! Any ideas for a Battleship-themed costume for the Obama camp?

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Hmmm? I think I would make my binder look like an old oak barrel and then I would get myself a little tin cup...yep!


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