My Top 7 DIY New Mexican Halloween Costumes

by Samantha Anne Carrillo

By local standards, I’m a newcomer to The Land of Enchantment. I relocated to Albuquerque in 2002 and was soon transfixed by New Mexico’s vibrant history, culture and landscape. Fourteen years later, extolling the chromatic spectrum of my adopted home is second-nature, reflexive.

Our state’s very name perplexes outsiders, provoking curiosity about life in our native country and comments on our facility with the English language. It’s a running joke that New Mexico is frequently overlooked by authors of those only-in-your-state listicles. Whether traveling abroad or road-tripping cross-country, New Mexicans frequently encounter these facepalm-worthy inquiries.

Like the aforementioned prismatic aspects of our state, the people of New Mexico possess an irrepressible spirit and are pretty darn unforgettable. Presented with varying levels of admiration and good-natured humor, here are my Top 7 DIY costume ideas for achieving nuevomexicano Halloween brilliance.


1) Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul characters | If you’re looking to emphasize the local angle, go with Skyler White (née Lambert), whose actor counterpart is native Santa Fean Anna Gunn or Burqueño and Democratic Bernalillo County commission candidate Steven Michael Quezada’s Steven Gomez. Got a Hank or W.W. lookalike in your life? If so, your choice is obvious.
What You’ll Need:
Skyler White: Blond wig, jewel or muted tone ¾ sleeve placket blouse and knee-length black viscose skirt and  ¾ inch black high heels

Steven Gomez: A rainbow of short-sleeved polo shirts, with a basic white tee underneath and, natch, a DEA field jacket.

2) Don Schrader | Unless you want to go old-school Schrader (think vintage public access/transparent loincloth), you can assuage your modesty with the winter Don as opposed to the Full Schrader. (Note: I have a soft spot for the Don. He was the first person to leave me an editorial fan voicemail during my first media gig at the TVI Times/CNM Chronicle and his support never wavered during my tenures at Weekly Alibi and ABQ Free Press).

What You’ll Need:

A Mexican poncho, distressed jean shorts, running shoes, dark/“tanned” makeup and a rainbow-striped beanie or straw cowboy hat.

3) Al Hurricane | Pay tribute to the Godfather of New Mexican music, Al Hurricane, with an instantly recognizable DIY Halloween costume.
What You’ll Need:

A short black pompadour wig (or appropriate hair color/styling), a hip suit with a contrasting, vibrant tie with a pocket square accented by a single red rose and baby’s breath, an elasticized black eye patch, a guitar, and cowboy boots.

4) Georgia O’Keeffe | Bring Ghost Ranch to town with a Georgia O’Keeffe costume. The mother of American modernism left behind a legacy that endures to this day.

What You’ll Need:

A black gaucho hat, a white man’s dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up, a simple black skirt or pants, and a paintbrush and palette, walking stick, or cow skull.

5) Geraldine Amato | Tireless public commenter, mayor/sheriff/city council candidate and political firebrand Geraldine Amato makes for an awesome costume. If you have a white car covered with stenciled political slogans, all the better.

What You’ll Need:

A cowboy hat over a long gray wig with two accent braids up front, oversized glasses, and colorful clothing, such as a vintage dress with Southwestern flair and a fringed leather jacket, and a book of the collected quotations of Patrick Henry

6) George R.R. Martin | Instantly recognizable sci-fi/fantasy author George R.R. Martin has achieved pop culture/literary fame following HBO’s adaptation of his Game of Thrones series. Martin calls Santa Fe home, owns and operates the Jean Cocteau independent theater and invested heavily in art complex Meow Wolf.

What You’ll Need:

A black newsboy cap accented with a silver turtle, a black button-down shirt with suspenders, a full gray beard and a volume from the Game of Thrones series.

7) Nora Espinoza | Dressing up as Republican candidate for New Mexico Secretary of State Nora Espinoza is probably the most legitimately scary DIY costume option on this list. If you didn’t vote early, make sure to carve out time to do your democratic duty on Election Day.

What You’ll Need:

A close-cropped, spiky blond wig, red lipstick, a pearl necklace, a double-breasted blazer and skirt set, a sheepskin from non-accredited religious “university” New Covenant International University and a bag of books that should be banned.

Honorable mentions: Joel-Peter Witkin, Billy the Kid, New Mexican album covers, goatheads, Harvey Girls, tumbleweed, Susana Martinez, Bill Richardson, Marty Chavez, Neil Patrick Harris, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Marc Maron, Holly Holm, La Llorona, et al.

Samantha Anne Carrillo is a nuevomexicana writer & editor, a freelance social media consultant, a fourth-wave feminist and a devout situationist. Find her at


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