Bag Lady Costume
Life on the streets ain't easy, and it shows in the appearance of any bag lady.
Most are portrayed as older women but that may be because they lead a hard life with nowhere to turn but the unforgivable elements. If you want to "dress down" and be a bag lady for Halloween, you'll discover that the shabby clothes and dirt are as far from glamorous as you can get.
Of course, you can be a young bag lady, but you may need to add some wrinkles to help portray your homeless status. Whatever the reason is for living on the streets, it's going to take it's toll on your body and make you look poor and dirty. Your demeanor should be subdued, the result of hard luck and an undesirable lifestyle. If you wish to be a beggar, you'll need to be more aggressive to get handouts from others.
Unless you already know of something you can wear, you can start with the attic. The best choice for a stereotypical bag lady costume is an old, matronly dress that falls just below the knees. This gives you ample room to show off your tattered pantyhose. Look for a dress with a print, the uglier the pattern, the better. If you don't own anything close to that, you can check out a used clothing store or find someone who may have old clothing in storage.
If the weather's cool, you can wear a shabby jacket or overcoat. Do not match this to the dress. Bag ladies do not have the luxury of matching their clothing and they take what they can get. Whatever your choice, add a few rips and dirt to make your costume look believable. Put on a pair of snagged pantyhose or bobby socks on your feet and you're ready for shoes.
Almost anything goes here but some shoes will work better than others. The old, lace-ups will give you the old-fashioned look and are probably the best choice. Find a dark color, perhaps leather. You can wear sneakers but they should be old and worn. Remember though, to pick something seasonal and comfortable or you'll truly be as miserable as a bag lady.
Hair and Makeup
Your hair should be un-kept and messy. Options include a wig or going au-natural. Use a comb with wide teeth to rat it make it look as though you haven't groomed yourself for days or weeks. You can wear a stocking cap to cover your head to add just another accessory that doesn't match.
Makeup should be kept to a minimum. You certainly don't want to cover flaws so makeup should be used only to add them. A few lines and wrinkles, dark circles underneath the eyes, and dirt splotches should do the trick.
You gotta have a bag to complete your homemade costume. It's wise to carry a bag with a handle. A traditional, paper shopping bag or large tote is perfect for carrying all your worldly possessions. You can go with a small basket or shopping cart but then you may be identified as simply a shopper.
What should you carry in your bag? All that you need for the evening plus some props such as dirty clothing, food wrappers and perhaps some candy to hand out. You'll be carrying it all, so don't add too much weight.