1 Flannel Shirt, 7 Halloween Costumes

by Jeremy Anderberg on October 29, 2013 · 46 comments

in Just For Fun, Manly Skills, Out on the Town

Flannel Header 2

My dad owns one red flannel shirt, and when I was in high school, he started a tradition of wearing it on Halloween every year. You may be asking why he wears the same costume every Halloween, but you’d be asking the wrong question. What you should be asking is how one red flannel shirt can supply the base for at least seven different costumes. If you’re out of ideas, on a budget, or in a pinch, with just a few extra props (most of which you can probably rustle up from around the house) and some inspiration from my dad you can turn a single piece of clothing into a wide variety of manly Halloween ensembles.

1. Lumberjack

Lumberjack 1

The lumberjack is a common fixture of many wooded locales, and it makes for a great Halloween costume. In my home state of Minnesota, our inspiration always came from the great legend (or is it reality?) of Paul Bunyan and his great blue ox. Grow yourself a beard and grab some rugged boots, a pair of jeans, a nice wool stocking cap, and of course, an axe. The axe doubles as protection from all the ghosts, ghouls, and of course zombies that are out and about on All Hallows’ Eve. If you can find a great blue ox, that’s icing on the cake.

2. Lobster Fisherman

Lobster 1

Lobster fishermen don’t always wear red flannel, but when they do, they wear it well. Think rubber when thinking of this costume. Boots, hip waders, gloves…even the lobster can be of the rubber variety. Unless of course you’re attending a potluck, in which case the lobster can be the dish you bring. Throw a bucket cap on your noggin, and you’ll be perfectly set to fool your friends into thinking you’ve arrived to the party via a boat from Maine.

3. Hipster

Hipster 2

If you’re young and live in a highly-populated urban area, this likely isn’t your best bet for a costume, as people won’t realize you’re in costume. Make sure to get yourself some thick glasses (as with real hipsters, lenses not required), skinny jeans, a can of PBR in one hand, and a vinyl record from your favorite obscure band in the other. If you do it right, you’re supplying your own beverage, as well as music for the shindig you’re attending. You’ll be the hit-ster of the party!

4. Canadian

Canadian 1

It’s easy to represent our brothers from north of the border. All you need is a bomber hat and a big ole jug o’ maple syrup. Make sure to get one of the hats where the ear flaps button up on top of the head in case you get warm. Take a few swills of the sweet nectar every hour, ensuring that you have plenty of sugar high for a full evening of Halloween activities. Throw in plenty of “ehs” and “you betchas” for extra authenticity.

5. Al Borland

Al 2

Mr. Borland was a fixture of my childhood, and makes for a great Halloween costume, especially for a 90s-themed party. You’ll need a full, thick beard, a tool belt, a wrench in hand, and of course that classic catchphrase, “I don’t think so, Tim.” Just substitute Tim’s name for whichever friend or family member is about to do something stupid, and you’ll be set.

6. Hobo

Hobo 1

I’m a midwesterner at heart, where hobos once roamed the rails far and wide across the great heart of the country. There is even a hobo museum in little Britt, Iowa. My wife and I once tried to go, but alas, it’s closed in the winter. Not only is this a great costume, but you also pay homage to the great history of our nation. Read up on the hobo lifestyle, add a few patches to your pants and shirt, grow out some stubble, find yourself an old hat of some sort, and create a classic hobo stick by tying the handkerchief you always have on you to the end of a tree branch. To really go all out, put a pocket knife, a spork, a piece of flint, and a tin cup into the bindle (yes, the bandana on a stick has a name) you’ve just created.

7. Larry the Cable Guy

Larry 1

After you’ve exhausted your red flannel shirt costume ideas, the final step is to cut off the sleeves to harness your inner Larry the Cable Guy. With a goatee, a trucker cap, a Southern “hick” accent, and some lame jokes up your non-existent sleeve, you’ll be entertaining everyone around you for the whole evening. Git ‘r done.

What other costumes can be had with just a red flannel shirt and a few props? What manly Halloween costume will you be sporting this year?

Illustrations by Ted Slampyak

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Vinny October 29, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I’ve gone Kurt Cobain and Bender from the Breakfast Club with just a red flannel shirt and some torn jeans. Helps to have long hair.

2 Tom October 29, 2013 at 6:23 pm

As a Canadian male, I can confirm that the costume suggested here is, in fact, our official non-work uniform and every person in the country has a red flannel shirt and bomber cap for every day of the week.
The maple syrup jug is like our canteen.

Happy Halloween, my American friends!

3 Jimmy October 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm

I saw elsewhere online that with your red flannel shirt and a paper towel roll you become the Brawny man.

4 Charlie Bactad October 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Action Comics New 52 Superman:


I might be too short and skinny for it (5′ 8″, 140lbs.) but who the hell cares?

5 Lucas October 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm

The grunge is also a possible one.

6 Gary V October 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm

What, no guy from the Bounty Paper Towels package?

7 paul bunyan October 29, 2013 at 8:23 pm

nuf said

8 Big Bad Moose October 29, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Nice Canadian costume! In Canada, “The Canadian” Costume you propose is pretty much casual dress here and would not constitute a costume at all.

I would assume someone in this outfit is restocking their maple syrup supply and rewatching the Vancouver 2010 Olympics on DVD.

9 Nick October 29, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Add a mustache and a yellow piece of paper, you can be Earl Hickey (of My Name is Earl).

10 Jeff October 29, 2013 at 9:40 pm

wear a blue-grey t-shirt, tie the sleeves to your flannel shirt around your waist, carry an old phone book, practice saying “shaw” and your air guitar, and, voila, Bill or Ted on an Excellent Adventure

11 Jake October 29, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Wait, you’re a fellow Minnesotan!?!
I totally have to shake your hand…

12 joe October 29, 2013 at 11:52 pm

When I dressed up as a Canadian didn’t use a flag or maple syrup, I used my hockey stick and molson.

13 David October 30, 2013 at 12:02 am

You forgot the cow-boy costume. Just need the cow-boy boots and the hat. Maybe an extra rope and/or gun.

That makes 8 costumes.

14 Tom October 30, 2013 at 1:39 am

As a Canadian these “costumes:” come off as everyday dress therefore I would be confused for taking on a new occupation. I’m a “Hoser” through and through: my favorite colour is plaid, I love beer and hockey. Can I get some other costume ideas without the plaid shirt? Dammit, Jeremy!

15 Theodore October 30, 2013 at 5:37 am

With a pair of suspenders and selected components of the Canadian and Al Borland costumes, you get Red Green!

16 Jarrod October 30, 2013 at 6:31 am

I can’t see the red and black flannel and not think of one of the greatest wrestlers ever, Mick Foley.


17 Ryan October 30, 2013 at 7:35 am

Another easy one is the redneck hunter. Just put your orange vest on and get some cheap “Bubba” teeth

18 Brett October 30, 2013 at 7:50 am

I actually did the lumberjack one about 17 years ago, when my work encouraged us to dress up for halloween. They didn’t appreciate the axe. Did I mention I worked in retail.

19 Terry October 30, 2013 at 7:57 am

Love the Al Borland one, LOL. As another Canadian, I’d like to suggest that you could swap the maple syrup for a Tims! ;o)

20 Big Bad Moose October 30, 2013 at 8:03 am

@ Theodore

What a beautiful sight that would be! Props would include duct-tape, and nephew Harold in similar dress, minus a hat, plus Mad Men hair-do and art-house glasses!

21 Chad October 30, 2013 at 8:10 am

LOL @ Tom! You’re a dern tootin’ Cenedein, eh!?

I have this shirt, does that make me a Canadian? Or just a wannabe?

22 Ted From MN October 30, 2013 at 8:39 am

I sent out my 3 year old in red flannel, jeans, a beard, and a tool belt – looking like Norm Abrams from “This Old House” and “The New Yankee Workshop.” (My guess is that he was probably the original inspiration for Al Borland). My three year old and I would wear red flannel together whenever Norm was on.

23 canadain October 30, 2013 at 8:58 am

i’m a canadain and the Canadian costume made me lol. especially with the little Canadian flag and maple sirup. I own that shirt too.

24 Sharon October 30, 2013 at 10:08 am

Take the lumber jack one step further, and turn him into a crazed woodsman.

25 Kade October 30, 2013 at 10:42 am

Um… Lumberjack works twice… if you’ve seen the series finale of showtime’s Dexter…

26 Keith October 30, 2013 at 11:44 am

Now I REALLY want to be Al Borland for Halloween!

27 Gabriella October 30, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Lumberjack minus the hat, axe & beard plus a bass guitar = punk legend Mike Watt.

28 Kevin October 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm

You can pull off a raggedy andy costume with a flannel shirt, overalls, red wig and a sailors hat. Add in some make-up for scars or a zombie look to make it look scary.

29 Alex October 30, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Mix the Lumberjack and the Canadian with a strange haircut and a pair of claws and you’ll get a perfect Wolverine costume! :D

30 Dan McG October 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Don’t forget about John Bender!

31 Jim October 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Shave your beard and put a blue T under it and you have Clark Kent from Smallville.

32 Seth October 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I have been Al Borland for Halloween for the past 5 years. I hate dressing up and being uncomfortable. However, I’ve been receiving many complaints about my outfit from friends. It may be time to change it up…. maybe Howard Wolowitz this year.

33 jsallison October 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm

…I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay
(He’s a lumberjack and he’s okay)
I sleep all night and I work all day
(He sleeps all night and he works all day)

I cut down trees, I skip and jump
I like to press wildflowers
I put on women’s clothing
And hang around in bars…

34 Ms.P October 30, 2013 at 6:42 pm

My husband walked out our house in his red flannel during our neighborhood Halloween party and everyone thought he was a lumberjack. He kept telling everyone he wasn’t in a costume.

35 Trev October 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Why do Americans think we sound like Minnesotans?

36 Cameron October 30, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Great article, but…. Larry the Cable Guy is from Nebraska, not the South. We can be hicks north of the Mason-Dixon Line too!

37 Jean October 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm

I resent the Canadian costume ;)

38 Matthew Spencer-Kociol October 30, 2013 at 11:19 pm

#8, tie the flannel shirt around your waist and you can go as the ’90s!

39 chasse October 31, 2013 at 10:13 am

Brawny Man is also a great costume

40 Steve#2 October 31, 2013 at 11:33 am

Get an old fedora, a mason jar half full of water/shine and go as a moonshiner.

41 St. Vital Kid November 1, 2013 at 9:09 am

I must be a bad Canadian. I accompanied my sons on their rounds last night wearing an NY Rangers jersey. On second thought, they’re not a Canadian team, but they are a hockey team. OK…I am a good Canadian again. Good night for it last night in southern Manitoba. Plus 5 degrees Celsius, no wind, no snow, no rain, no problem.

42 Richie D November 1, 2013 at 5:36 pm

im going as a cowboy/ willie nelson to a party tomorrow. a flannel is definitely the basis of this one.

43 Timothy November 3, 2013 at 8:51 am

Al Borland. That made me happy.

44 R November 7, 2013 at 3:28 am

I dressed one year as the Waterboy using a flannel shirt, a fishing vest and various kitchen utensils strapped to the vest like a ladel, turkey baster, measuring spoons and cups.

I went to a halloween party with it and those cups came in pretty handy when I helped disperse drinks, too. (How’s it goin, ladies?)

45 JT November 16, 2013 at 8:41 am

As a young Canadian man I agree with Tom, I for one hae a red flannel and my bomber hat as rabbit fur.

46 Terrance January 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Add a bolo tie some boots, a 10 G hat, a vest, jeans, a bandana, and gun and holster. YOU GOT A COWBOY!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter