Professional Practice

Join Us for AOEU’s Costume Contest to Spark Creativity and Joy

VanGogh costumes

Calling all fashionistas and costume enthusiasts! Prepare to celebrate your creativity with art-themed attire as we bring back AOEU’s Costume Contest. Picture this: You’re dressed to impress all while bringing art concepts to life. Your thoughtful ensembles channel the spirit of legendary artists. Your classroom is a vibrant runway where art takes center stage through your outfits. Boost engagement and make art education an unforgettable journey for all of your students! Grab your needle and thread and join us as we unveil fabulous ideas from the archives.

costume collage
Images courtesy of @mrs.sheffer, @artroom3111, and @theartofintegration

Take part in the costume fun this year to ignite your creativity and enter to win a sweet prize! 

Incorporating fashion into art lessons adds a whole new level of excitement and engagement. It’s a unique way to teach art concepts and make lessons more memorable. When teachers express themselves through their clothing and accessories, they can visually represent art concepts and artists.

Not only can your artsy attire hook your students but it can also qualify you to enter the AOEU Costume Contest! Snap a photo of you in your costume, share on social media using #aoeucostumecontest, and fill out the form below by October 31. The AOEU Community Team will select our top favorites and then we’ll bring it to YOU—the AOEU art teacher community—to vote for the final winner on November 1! We will announce the winner on November 2. The best costume will win bragging rights and a pass to the Winter NOW Conference. Plus, we’ll send you a gift card to your favorite coffee spot because it’s that time of year when you need an extra boost of caffeine and warmth.

Keep reading to see fantastic costumes from years past to inspire you! Then, gain practical classroom applications to bring fashion fun to your students.

artist costumes
Images courtesy of Amy Meadow and @sellsartstudio

Art Concepts

Dressing up as an art concept or style isn’t just for fun, it’s also super practical. Take a look at the seven examples below to discover how you can be a walking lesson exemplar. Get creative, think outside of the box, and let unique costume ideas bring art terms to life!

abstract costume
Image courtesy of @fishweirart

1. Color Wheel Wonder

Wear a multicolored outfit to represent the colors of the color wheel, like Kelly Dudek and her rainbow-inspired number. Bring in the team and get your colleagues to be different colors of your favorite supply like Erin Comer.

rainbow art supplies outfits
Images courtesy of Kelly Dudek and Erin Comer

2. Texture Explorers

Incorporate different textures into your attire, such as a fuzzy sweater or a smooth satin top. To make a lasting impression, go over the top with a blow-up balloon costume like Amber Akes did!

balloon dog costume
Image courtesy of Amber Akes

3. Symmetry Superstars

Create a mirrored outfit or wear symmetrical patterns on both sides.

4. Shape Shapeshifters

Dress up as a specific geometric shape or with an outfit theme based on a geometric shape.

5. Line Lovers

Wear striped or checkered patterns or draw temporary lines on your face or limbs. Become your very own stick figure like Molly Fairbanks!

stickman costume
Image courtesy of Molly Fairbanks

6. Perspective Pros

Experiment with clothing to create a sense of depth and perspective.

7. Value Vanguards

Dress in grayscale or black-and-white to show varying shades and tones.

Different Artists

Dressing up as different artists is not only fun but also a great way to learn more about them. Select your favorite artist or one featured in your next unit and become Leonardo da Vinci, Frida Kahlo, or Vincent van Gogh for a day.

art history costumes
Images courtesy of @theartoflfed, @mephamart, and @gwhs_art

1. Signature Style

Emulate the iconic look of the artist by dressing in their preferred style of clothing. For example, wear a funky hat and suit and draw a mustache to channel the spirit of Salvador Dalí.

2. Artist’s Palette

Create a costume inspired by an artist’s color scheme. Dress in clothing to resemble the hues and tones commonly used in their artwork. For instance, dress in bright, bold colors with black accents to represent the vibrant, abstract style of Wassily Kandinsky.

3. Artistic Accessories

Incorporate accessories to symbolize the artist’s work or personal life. For instance, wear flowers in your hair and find a stuffed monkey to depict Frida Kahlo, like Duangchai Swani and Dayna Ensminger.

frida costumes
Images courtesy of @artwithmsdash and @brightdaydesigns

4. Painted Masterpiece

Transform yourself into a living artwork by recreating a famous painting on your clothing or creating a wearable canvas. Paint your face to resemble a work of art like Andrea Lauren did to look like Roy Lichtenstein’s work.

painted face costume
Image courtesy of Andrea Lauren

5. Signature Props

Use specific props associated with the artist to represent their artwork. For example, carry a sunflower bouquet to reference Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower series like these three teachers did.

VanGogh costumes
Images courtesy of @kanestevenstudio, @rjclayco, and @inmulticolors

How can you bring these fashionable ideas to your classroom and curriculum? 

You can bring the fashion fun to your own classroom as well! Students design costumes inspired by their favorite art style, movement, or medium. Students explain their costume designs and present their creations to the class. Check out this short video to see what this could look like in your classroom or as an added component to your art show. An exhibit like this fosters enthusiasm for learning, encourages self-expression, and celebrates the diverse world of art. It’s a fun way for students to explore their artistic preferences and showcase their creativity!

warhol costume
Image courtesy of @artroomadventures

The AOEU Costume Contest is an amazing way to blend art and fashion with fun and learning! When students dress up, they bring art concepts and famous artists to life which enhances their learning experience. Costumes help them understand and remember art concepts more easily and they feel a stronger connection to what they’re learning. As teachers, let’s embrace the power of costumes and use the AOEU Costume Contest as a fun teaching tool to get students excited and involved. We can’t wait to see all of the creative and imaginative entries in this year’s contest. Let’s celebrate hands-on, immersive learning, self-expression, and the awesome mix of art and fashion!

What are some ideas you have for this year’s costume contest?

How do you encourage your students to dress for success in the art room?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Rebekah Hower

Rebekah Hower, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about creating an engaging and relevant environment for students to discover and experiment.

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