Circus Theme Costume Ideas

by Ticara Gailliard ; Updated September 28, 2017

The circus captures the heart of both children and adults alike, which is why circus costumes are popular, non-scary picks for Halloween. Likewise, circus-themed costumes can be tailored to fit young or old, male or female, as playful and entertaining as watching an actual circus performance.

Regal Ringleader

Ringleaders act as the hosts of a circus and are often one of the more popular circus-related costumes. Ringleaders usually dress in a red-and-black riding-style jacket, with khaki or black pants and tall black boots. A top hat and riding crop or whip top off the outfit. Adult women may want to amp up the costume by wearing a miniskirt instead of pants, or a black corset and red shrug instead of a ringleader jacket. With ringleaders, the flashier, the better. Add gold accessories or a feathery piece to the top hat to stand out even more.

Circus Animal

Circuses involve an array of animals such as tigers, elephants and lions. Some circuses also feature a bear act. For a costume, the options are either to wear a literal interpretation of the animal or create a more abstract animal costume. Look for fuzzy lion costumes from a costume shop or try sewing one yourself. For a more abstract animal costume, find clothing in the same color scheme as the animal you want to be. For instance, a tiger costume could include a tiger-print skirt or pants, a tail, and some cat-style makeup.

Lion Tamer

Lion tamers dress rather similarly to ringleaders; one major difference is ringleaders wear bright, bold colors, while lion tamers stick to monotone outfits, usually khaki colored. Lion tamers often have a whip and a wooden chair, used as a show to fend off an advancing lion. Tall boots and either a top hat or an explorer’s hat round out the accessories. On occasion, lion tamers have burning hoops that the lions jump through -- a simple hula hoop will work for a costume. Consider carrying a stuffed lion or have a friend agree to be your lion counterpart.

Clowning Around

Clowns provide comic relief at circuses, often riding around the rings in tiny cars or on unicycles. Clown costumes are easy to come by. They are usually brightly colored one-piece jumpsuits with large floppy shoes. Clowns often have rainbow-colored wigs and red balls for noses. To piece together a clown outfit, find things in your wardrobe that are oversized and mismatched, such as a striped shirt with baggy patterned pants. Wear face paint to make your features more exaggerated.

Photo Credits

  • Robinson Cartagena Lopez - RoCarLo/Demand Media

About the Author

Ticara Gailliard is a college graduate with a degree in communications/film and video production from the University of Memphis. She has been a writer for over 15 years and has been published in local writing magazines such as "Grandmother Earth." She also edited two books for her high school.