Lizzie Borden Halloween Costume

lizzie borden

Lizzie Borden was accused of killing her father and stepmother with a hatchet on August 4th, 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Although she was acquitted at her trial, she remains a legend in American folklore. Many people still believe that she got away with murder. (The crime remains unsolved).

Do you want to dress up as the notorious spinster for Halloween? To be true to the character (and have a chance to be recognized as such,) you should try to look like 32 year-old Lizzie, the age she was when the murders occurred. Need a little help? Here's some ideas to make your own homemade Lizzie Borden costume.


It's not clear what Lizzie was wearing the day of the murders though it was thought to be a blue dress. Incidentally, she was observed burning a blue dress in the kitchen stove several days after August 4th. Lizzie claimed the dress was stained with paint.

For the costume, try to find a Victorian style dress with mutton sleeves. Preferably blue. Since most people don't know the details of the Borden murders, the color shouldn't really make a difference. For obvious reasons, the dress will be ruined when you're through with it, so borrowing or renting is not an option.

If you can't find a dress, try a skirt and blouse with a high collar, and ruffles or lace. Something matronly. There's no evidence of an apron but for some reason, one is sometimes associated with Lizzie Borden. You can take advantage of that and wear an apron to hide part of the dress if the style isn't quite right. A corset is also optional. Finish off your costume with stockings and old, granny-type shoes or boots.


Pictures show that Lizzie's mousy brown hair was often worn in an updo, as was typical in the 1890's. The most practical style would be a simple bun piled on the back of the head. Make it a bit messy to show signs of a murderous rage. Note that Lizzie also parted her hair down the middle.


There's only one prop needed to define the legend of Lizzie Borden and that is an axe. Of course, a real axe is too dangerous and cumbersome to carry around but you should be able to find a plastic one in the Halloween props section at a local store.

Fake Blood

It was a gristly crime and the costume should reflect that. Splatter the dress and hatchet with fake blood and let it dry before you get dressed up.


As the old playground rhyme goes:

Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks.
And when she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

(Or didn't she?)