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Ophelia Halloween Costume: Assemble It Yourself

Updated on June 18, 2014

Create Your Own Unique Costume

Creating your own costume can be a great way to save money, to customize a costume that's just right for you, and to have a unique outfit you know nobody else at the party will be wearing. Who better to dress up as than Ophelia: Hamlet's late sweetheart from Shakespeare's play, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. She is lovely, insane, and *spoiler alert* was taken from the world too soon; it's a great mix for a Halloween 2014 costume that's both beautiful and eerie.

The term 'Assemble it yourself' is used instead of 'Make it yourself' or 'Do it yourself' because you don't have to sew or craft anything if you don't want to, this costume can be made up of simple pieces of clothing--in fact, you might have everything you need already! This list has ideas for everything to create an Ophelia costume.

Since Hamlet is a play, the characters have limited descriptions and appearances are open to interpretation. So, there is no one single correct way to look like Ophelia, so make the costume your own and have fun with it!

Photo used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

A black and white image of Shakespeare's Ophelia
A black and white image of Shakespeare's Ophelia

Who is Ophelia?

Beware: Shakespearean Spoilers Ahead!

Ophelia was a "good girl", torn between obeying her father and being the man she loved, Hamlet. Though one minute it seems Hamlet is lovesick over her, the next he says he never loved her. After the heartbreak of Hamlet's words and the tragedy of her father's murder, Ophelia loses her sanity. In her madness she sings songs, hands out wildflowers and eventually meets an untimely end in a river. As she is being placed in her grave, her brother insists to hold her one last time and speaks of the great love he had for her. At this time Hamlet argues he loved her more than 40,000 brothers, going back and forth again on whether he ever really loved her. For Hamlet to say this after how he treated Ophelia, it's likely he is insane himself; though, it is nice to think he did love her so much, regardless.

Photo used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

Ophelia in a white dress and adorned with flowers
Ophelia in a white dress and adorned with flowers

White Dress

White is a symbol of innocence and virtue, something Ophelia both represented and lost... but it's also the color of some really cute dresses, so cheer up because this tragedy is fiction, baby!

For a character from one of Shakespeare's plays, a timeless dress works best if you're going to a realistic look; something simple that could have been worn by a girl centuries ago. Though, if you'd like to put a modern spin on her with sequins or anything else more contemporary, go for it! You have the freedom to make Ophelia look however you'd like to.

Dress looks for a timeless Ophelia costume:

- Long and light-weight

- Flowy fabric

- Emprie waist

- Linen Fabric

- Tunic or Toga dress styles

- Flower details or embroidery

- Avoid dresses that are too short

Photo used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

Image Inspiration - Lovely Ophelia images to inspire your costume look. All the images below are used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia.org.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ophelia wears a crown of flowers in her messy hair
Ophelia wears a crown of flowers in her messy hair

Crown of Flowers

(Or a Cute Headband)

In nearly every interpretation we see of Ophelia whether it's on a theater stage, in a painting or in a photograph, she is seen wearing flowers in her hair. Often times she is seen not only wearing flowers in her hair, but flowers weaved into a crown. A crown of flowers or a floral headband are really cute hair accessories that would look great and current as part of a Halloween 2014 costume.

Ways to wear your hair with a crown of flowers:

- Wear your hair down and messy

- Wear with a loose braid

- Wear with your favorite type of bun

- Add additional flowers to other parts of your hair

- Tuck an extra flower behind your ear

Image used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

Neutral and light amount of make up is perfect for this Shakespearean costume look
Neutral and light amount of make up is perfect for this Shakespearean costume look

Neutral Makeup

They didn't have body glitter or neon pink eye shadow 500 years ago (That I'm aware of, at least!) so if you are going for a more true-to-life take on Ophelia, it is nice to use a light amount of makeup and keep the colors neutral. Ophelia was also a teenager, so you may want to avoid makeup looks that may seem too grown-up.

Makeup Suggestions:

- Foundation

- Blush or Bronzer

- Neutral Eyeshadow

- Light Amount of Mascara

- Natural Tone Lipstick

For a More Distressed and Troubled Look:

- Lighter Foundation, especially at the cheek bones

- Use eyeliner to draw subtle bags under the eyes

- Darker foundation (or sheer eyeshadow) around and under the eyes

But again, there isn't only one way to portray Ophelia. You're assembling this costume, so it's open to how you want to do it. If you want to put a spin on your costume and create Raver Ophelia or Biker Ophelia (or if you just love makeup) go ahead and use more dramatic makeup for your one-of-a-kind Halloween costume.

Photo above used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

Image below used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

A Dark and Spooky Makeup Look

A Dark and Spooky Makeup Look
A Dark and Spooky Makeup Look
A black and white photo of Mignon Nevada as Ophelia, with a flower crown on her head and flower chain in her lap
A black and white photo of Mignon Nevada as Ophelia, with a flower crown on her head and flower chain in her lap

Additional Accessories: Flowers

Looking to add more to your costume? Not only do we see flowers as a theme with Ophelia, but they make for some cute and fitting accessories.

Flower Jewelry

A necklace, bracelet, ring or earrings with flower pendants or charms

Basket of Flowers

After Ophelia goes mad, she hands out wildflowers and herb while singing songs. Gather some flowers, real or fake, and place theme in a small basket. You can even pass them out to party goers

Flower Footwear

Sandals, flats or your preferred footwear with flower embellishments

Flower Belt

You can wear a floar belt, or wear a simple braided belt and stick a flower or two into the braid

Photo used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

Ophelia with flowers in her hair and an intense look on her face
Ophelia with flowers in her hair and an intense look on her face

Get Into Character

Part of the fun of dressing up is acting like what you are dressed up as. Ophelia was an innocent girl, who was driven insane by having to deal with tragic events, Hamlet's denying he loved her and the resulting deep sorrow. Though she was a troubled, sad girl you don't have to mope or be forlorn, play up her insanitiy or behave in an eerie or creepy way for a few laughs.

Try a few of Ohpelia's lines while in costume:

A song she sings after going mad:

He is dead and gone, lady,

He is dead and gone;

At his head a grass-green turf,

At his heels a stone"

Another mad song sang in the presence of Queen Gertrude and King Claudius

"To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day,

All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window,

To be your Valentine.

Then up he rose, and donn'd his clothes,

And dupp'd the chamber-door;

Let in the maid, that out a maid

Never departed more"

To her brother Laertes, while passing out flowers and herbs (She is no longer sane)

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,

love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts.

There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue

for you; and here's some for me: we may call it

herb-grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with

a difference. There's a daisy: I would give you

some violets, but they withered all when my father

died: they say he made a good end--"

Excerpts from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" from Open Source Shakespeare

Image seen above in the US public domain (PD-1923) and used under Creative Commons from Wikimedia

For Halloween or maybe a theater performance, have you ever dressed up as one of Shakespeare's characters? What did you think of this costume?

Happy Halloween!

Share Your Thoughts

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    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 5 years ago

      Really beautiful lens.

    • orange3 lm profile image

      orange3 lm 5 years ago

      Great idea with great information! Thanks

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 5 years ago from Edinburgh

      Excellent ideas here...perfect for anyone wanting to dress up as a Shakespearean character. Blessed.

    • profile image

      Noveliaa 5 years ago

      very good information. great job

    • Jogalog profile image

      Jogalog 5 years ago

      Beautiful idea for a costume.

    • rooshoo profile image

      rooshoo 5 years ago

      Ophelia is a great costume idea. Very literary.

    • profile image

      sailor_man 5 years ago

      nice Halloween

    • RosaMorelli profile image

      RosaMorelli 5 years ago

      What a beautiful idea - I love the Shakespeare quotes, adds a bit of fun to the costume party to get into character once in a while :)

    • profile image

      dellgirl 5 years ago

      This is a nice lens you have here. I really like your Assemble It Yourself: Ophelia Halloween Costume idea.

    • profile image

      bluedarkart 5 years ago

      Wow! Lovely Lens! Beautiful costumes! :))))

    • Ardyn25 profile image

      Ardyn25 5 years ago

      I love your lens, photos and costume choices. Very well done!

    • profile image

      taliasmith23 5 years ago

      good job! lots of detail!