Adam & Barbara Maitland Costume Tutorial


Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!  There’s been a resurgence in interest in these characters recently, so I’m going to give you a few shortcuts.  This tutorial is a bit like a choose your own adventure story.

Your first choice is whether you will go as the masked “scary” Maitlands or the more sedate “living” versions.  The clothes are the same, but I think it’s worth it to add the horror elements.

Details below.  Just click on the images to see the items on Amazon.


Adam Maitland wears a classic chinos and flannel look that would have been right at home in 1980s Vermont.


This shirt from Amazon is extremely close to the original.  If you want to be screen-accurate, you would need to swap out the buttons for black ones.  That’s easy enough, right?  Just be careful when you wash this one.  Reviews on Amazon suggest that it shrinks a LOT.  Best not to put it in the drier.

You may also want to check at Old Navy as we get further into the Autumn clothing season.  They often stock good flannel shirts and they may just add one that’s similar to Adam’s.


These Russell Athletic tees are nice, but any red T-shirt will do.


These Lee “X-treme Comfort” Khakis are, hands down, the best chinos I’ve ever owned.  I’d recommend them even if Adam Maitland hadn’t worn them in Beetlejuice.


Don’t forget the classic Dockers belt!  Hey, nobody ever said Adam was a fashion plate.

sebago-b72743-docksides-brown-leather-boat-shoes-leftLast we have Adams predictably conservative boat shoes.  His were brown, but anything in a natural (i.e. – not black) color will probably work.  You may even have a pair in your closet.  These things hardly ever go out of style.



Add these items to the clothing listed above to kick your costume into Halloween greatness!


Many people make their own masks out of cardboard and papier mache.  That’s a lot of fun, but the truth is that it usually renders a result that looks worse than this mask from Rubies.  This mask isn’t perfect, but it can be modded to produce impressive results.

Mask Mod 1: Cover those giant eye holes with a couple of layers of dog screen.  If you glue down the first layer, tilt the second layer 45° to block people from seeing your eyes without blocking your own vision.  Use hot glue or rubber cement for this.  If you use hot glue, don’t forget to press a cool towel to the outside of the mask so the hot glue won’t melt the latex.

Mask mod 2: HAIR!  I can’t imagine why Rubies skimped on this!  In the movie, Adam has hair.  Just clip some off of a wig or buy a yard of some of that faux fur they seem to have at every fabric store.  It’ll be worth it!

Adam has eyeballs on the ends of his fingers and you can two!  While these might not be the most realistic eyeballs available, they’re cheap!  A dozen for a little over five bucks at the time of this writing.  Just cut some holes in them and plop them onto your fingers.  If they slip, put a little Blue Tack inside so  your fingertips stick.  Or go the extra mile by gluing some scraggly pieces of red yarn to the backs of them!  Whatever you do, just don’t buy the awful eyeball finger gloves they’re selling for this costume.  They really suck.



This is where we start running into trouble.  In the movie, Geena Davis wears a custom-made floral print prairie dress.  While prairie dresses like this were a dime a dozen in the 80s, they”re a little hard to come by now.  If you want to be close to screen-accurate, you’re going to have to dig.  That means patrolling Etsy, Ebay and your local Goodwill.  The only other option is to buy a vintage sewing pattern and build your own dress, but this isn’t exactly a simple design, despite it’s simple appearance.  There are a lot of small details.

Take a look at the original dress by following THIS LINK.  One of the members of Threadless actually owns one of the screen-used outfits.  In the picture posted there, you can clearly see how much detail work went into building this particular prairie dress.


Another option is to go for the overall feel of the dress.  A pastel floral print dress with sleeves, a slight empire waist, and a high neckline will go a long way toward suggesting the Beetlejuice costume.  The one linked to above was on Etsy at the time of this writing and was only $26.00.  You could wear it as-is, or add some buttons to the front to help it look a little more like Barbara’s.  The fact is that very few people will remember the exact dress.


 Barbara’s shoes are pastel pink ballet flats.  The ones linked to above are the closest we’ve seen to the originals, though they don’t have the embossed pattern the originals did.  Oh, and don’t forget the white tights!



Now we’re talking!  For some reason, Rubies has done an excellent job with both Maitland masks.  Unfortunately, Barbara’s mask is listed as “Martha” in many places, including Amazon.  Weird.


This mask needs the same fixes that the Adam mask needed.  The holes should be covered, but instead of pet screen, use a dark red mesh like the one this bag is made of.  You’ll also want to add a big, curly wig to the back of the mask using hot glue or rubber cement.  Just be careful to apply a cold washcloth under the mask whenever using hot glue.  You don’t want to melt the latex!



The best prop is the official Handbook for the Recently Deceased.  The one I link to above is the paperback version that’s commercially available.  There are also Etsy vendors who are making hardcover versions from brown sketchbooks.  Vendor “killerboots” even includes a Beetlejuice flyer!


If you just want the flyer, click the image above and get busy printing!

Good luck with your costumes!

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