A piece of fabric with holes in it and some dead/gray makeup and you are the undead.
You can take lots of simple things and turn them into last-minute costumes. Basically, any outfit, pajamas, uniform and such can become a zombie.
I saw a great zombie costume at a zombie walk. A guy wore a short-sleeved old-fashioned nerd work shirt, short black pants, pocket protector, glasses with tape to be a nerd, only he had pencils stabbed into his costume and blood. One pencil in the back held a piece of paper that said "NERD!" A little pale zombie makeup and he was ready to go. The costume told a story.
Julie Ferguson (co-author of "Zombie Housewives" book series) and I used zombie makeup and bowling outfits for our zombie housewives costumes.
So, anything can be a zombie.
How about a black hooded robe - what can that bccome?
- These are all Druid-themed costume concepts from one black hooded gown -
Autumnal Druid: This one, I cut big long ovals out of the upper arms, cut a deep V-shape in front, and slits up to the hip in the legs and turned it into an autumnal druid. I got at the craft store autumn leaf garlands that are twisting vines with metal wire inside them so you can shape them. I poked holes in the cloth, ran the vines through the holes and across the opening to another hole, like lacing shoes. I made a necklace of the vine with acorns and acorns rings and such.
Stone Druid: Get a white mask from a craft store (above) Paint it dark gray. Then, take tan and light gray and sponge them onto the mask in a blotchy pattern. You can add some dark thin veins like marbling. Use makeup on your hands to match the effect. Along the hem of the gown, paint with light gray paint the pillars of Stonehenge in a circle around the hem like the actual circle, about 1-foot tall.
Raven Druid: Take a half mask from the craft store and a bag of black feathers. Paint it black. Glue the black feathers onto it to cover it, aiming them outwards. Take a subscription cardboard insert from a magazine and paint it dark gray. Let it dry. Now, cut it into a triangle. Fold it down the center lengthwise. Glue it to the mask to make a beak. Use black gloves, attach a few black feathers to the backs of them. If you want, attack a stuffed raven from the craft store or Halloween stop atop each shoulder.
Anything can be a vampire bite victim too.
Sure your costume rocks, but how about a vampire bite to tell a story?
Zombie makeup, black cape and hood, vampire bite - just a few things that can make a regular costume or mask turn into a storytelling opportunity.
(above) my son at Halloween one year- painted tire pattern on an old sweatshirt, some makeup, and makeshift sling.
He was obviously a good sport about it.
Good luck souping up your costume and turning it into something that tells a creepy tale.