Rosie the Riveter Costume

Rosie the riveter halloween costume

Rosie-the-Riveter Costume

Whether you work a 9-to-5 in an office or work in a factory, the “Rosie the Riveter” costume represents a cultural icon that symbolized feminism and women’s economic power in the United States. Rosie the Riveter did her part as a tireless assembly line worker to help the American war effort.  Some believe that those efforts can be seen in the long-range significance of the changes brought about by the war which provided the foundation for the contemporary women’s movement.

If Rosie is your kind of girl, you can do your part to pay homage to this American icon on Halloween.  This costume is one you can make yourself.  It is inexpensive, very comfortable to wear, and easy to assemble.

Listed below are several key components to the Rosie the Riveter costume:

  • Blue denim or chambray buttoned-down, long-sleeved shirt
  • Blue denim pants or jeans
  • Red polka-dot bandana
  • Belt and work boots or penny loafers
  • “We Can Do It” button (purchased) or DIY (see instructions below)
  • Red Lipstick

You may be able to find all these major components in your closet.  If you have to purchase some items to complete the Rosie the Riveter costume, you probably wouldn’t spend over $30.  If you can’t find a red polka dot bandana, the local fabric store may have the perfect fabric or you can buy a red and white western-style bandana at a local big box store or a local beauty supply store.

Bandana Hairdo

To help you pull together the vintage hairdo as seen on the “We Can Do It” WWII-era poster by J. Howard Miller, we have two helpful videos that will show you exactly what to do to get the same or a similar look using a red bandana.


Here is another hairdo tutorial with finished results closely resembling the look in the “We Can Do It” poster.  Instead of creating a bump at the front, you may try twisting the hair and pinning it into a vintage pin-curl with waves of hair peeking out from under the bandana above the ears:

Shirt and Pants

A nice blue chambray or denim shirt that buttons all the way down and has long sleeves is the ideal shirt for this costume. To get the “flex your muscles” look, roll the long sleeves up above the elbows.  Tuck the shirt into the jeans and belt it.  If you do not have a denim shirt and jeans, you can wear a long blue coverall or denim overalls to accomplish the look.


Belt and Shoes

rosie the riveter crew socks

Rosie-the-Riveter Crew Socks

Pull the denim shirt and jeans together with a narrow belt in brown or black to match your footwear.  If you can find some vintage shoes (at a garage sale, estate sale or on eBay), like the ones they wore in the factory during World War II, that would be wonderful.  You can wear work boots, army-style boots or even penny loafers.  Penny loafers were worn by Rosie the Riveter in the famous poster painted by Norman Rockwell in 1942.  Since nylon was rationed to save it for making parachutes, women substituted socks for stockings.  We’ve found the perfect pair of cute and fun socks.   If you wear them, you will make a statement and will finish your costume off nicely.

Pinback Button

To complete your costume, you will need a “We Can Do It” button.  You can make your own button.  You can print out the iconic image of “Rosie the Riveter” and glue it to the front of cardboard.  Adjust the size of the image before you print it out to make sure it will fit your 3-inch (7.62 cm) circle. To make a plain button with only the words, “We Can Do It” on it, you will need the following supplies:

  • Cardboard
  • White cardstock or white copy paper
  • 3-inch (7.62 cm) circle template, glass or bottle
  • Felt or fabric (approximately 5 – 6 inches or 15.24 cm)
  • Black Felt-tip marker
  • E-6000 glue or fabric glue
  • Scissors
  • Pinback with adhesive backing (purchased) or medium-size (1¼”) safety pin

Cut a 3-inch (7.62 cm) circle out of the cardboard using a glass or anything you have around the house that will give you the approximate diameter.  Just place that object down on the cardboard and draw a circle around it.  Cut the circle out as smoothly as you can.  The best way to cut out a circle or curves is to move the paper as you cut with the scissors.

If your cardboard is brown and you will not be gluing down the “We Can Do It” image, cut out a 3-inch (7.62 cm) circle from white cardstock or copy paper and glue it to the top of the 3-inch (7.62 cm) cardboard circle.  Use the black felt-tip marker to print the words “We Can Do It” on the front of the button.  If you do not print well or want something more stylish, you can print out those words on paper where they are centered and fit within a 3-inch (7.62 cm) diameter.  To get the best look, type or print (bold and centered) “We” on the top line, “Can Do” on the second line, and “It” on the third line.

Glue down the 3-inch (7.62 cm) piece of felt or fabric on the back of the 3-inch (7.62 cm) cardboard circle.  Now you will add your pinback.  You can purchase a package of pinbacks with an adhesive strip already attached.  Center the pinback and position it near the top of the button.  Add pressure to the pinback to adhere it securely to the back of the button, over the felt or fabric. Or, you can make your own pinback using a safety pin.

Glue down the 3-inch circle of felt or fabric first before attaching the safety pin.  To attach the safety pin to the back of the button, you want to center the safety pin (with the pointy pin end up and free).  Position the safety pin toward the top of the button.  Apply E-6000 glue or fabric glue to the pin area.  Then, position the small ½” x ¾” (1.27cm x 1.95cm) swatch of felt or fabric over the safety pin.  Apply pressure to join both surfaces and clean up excess glue before glue dries.  Make sure you leave the pointed pin end free and up to allow you to attach it to your shirt and clasp the safety pin shut.  Attach the button to one of the shirt pockets or in the upper breast area.


To finish off the polished look of Rosie the Riveter, you need an eyebrow pencil, mascara, foundation, rouge, lip liner, and a matte red lipstick.  Hopefully, the videos gave you some pointers and good ideas on what you can do and how to do it. If you’re really daring, you can transform Rosie the Riveter into a zombie wearing full make-up and regalia.  With zombie-inspired makeup or a mask, you can make your very own unique Zombie Rosie-the-Riveter costume.


To really complete this costume and seal the deal, carry a metal lunch box with “Rosie” stamped on it.  You can use some cardboard or cardstock and create a nameplate that can be glued to the side of the lunch box.  To take it a step further and show your muscle, you can carry your very own rivet gun!  Any doubt or confusion about “who you are” or what you can do will be erased. Rosie the Riveter can be the perfect vintage superhero costume for women.

You can add a modern twist with how you pull the components together.  You can keep the vintage look and go for an exact copy of the “We Can Do It” poster.   Or, you can make Rosie the Riveter a member of the walking dead and zombify her by making her clothes grungier, by adding a zombie look to her makeup, or by adding a zombie mask to get a scary look that would be totally unexpected.  A pin-up girl zombie mask would be a blast on the Rosie the Riveter costume!

Create the iconic Rosie the Riveter look or create something truly unique.  The choice is yours.  But whatever you choose to do, flex your muscle when you don your Rosie the Riveter costume!

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