How to Make an Abraham Lincoln Costume

Four Methods:Dressing Like Abraham LincolnDoing Lincoln Hair and MakeupExploring New Costume IdeasActing Like Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America. He is considered to be one of the most famous and admired figures in US history.[1] Like some of history's most influential figures, Lincoln had a very distinctive look. His bearded chin, style of dress and polite manner of speaking are all instantly recognizable to anyone with a working knowledge of history. If you want to play the role of one of the greatest leaders in American history, you'll have to take the man's character into account as well as the clothes he wore. Luckily, there is a huge amount of information available about the man, so you won't need to look far to get a costume started.

Method 1
Dressing Like Abraham Lincoln

  1. Image titled Make an Abraham Lincoln Costume Step 2
    Find a black fancy overcoat. Lincoln may have had a lot of folk sense in him, but he never turned down an opportunity to look civilized and classy. His dress of choice was always a black overcoat. So long as the coat doesn't have any visible logos or symbols, you can use any black overcoat for this.[2] Look at existing Lincoln costumes or pictures of the man himself and decide if any coat you have fits the bill.
    • A grey vest underneath may help to round off your costume.[3] However, if you can't find one of those, a white dress shirt will do. You may also choose to button up your overcoat.
  2. Image titled Make an Abraham Lincoln Costume Step 1
    Don a tall top hat.[4] Lincoln's look is associated with fancy clothes and a big top hat. Top hats can be found at costume or consignment stores, or made by rolling black felt and gluing on a rim. Provided you're aiming for a traditional Lincoln costume, you should keep the hat black. Top hats often come with pre-fabricated Lincoln costumes.[5]
    • If you can't find a top hat, make your own. Roll black construction paper into a tube. Stand it up on another sheet of black construction paper, and trace the circle around the bottom (use a pencil so the silvery graphite will show up). Fold the paper in half so that the circle is exactly in half, cut out the circle, and cut a second circle out around the edge, so that you end up with a brim for your top hat. Tape it to the black tube.
  3. 3
    Wear black dress shoes. Although they won't attract as much attention as your coat or top hat, it's nonetheless a good idea to round off your costume with a good set of black shoes. The most important thing is that your shoes are black; this way they won't conflict with the rest of the costume. Shoes with a buckle are rarer today than they were then, but they also match the costume if you have them lying around.
    • Lincoln wore size 14 shoes.
    • Lincoln's father was a shoemaker.[6]
  4. 4
    Wear a black bowtie.[7] Lincoln was known to wear bowties. They are not commonly worn in fashion today but you can usually find them for sale at department stores and costume shops. Bowties don't need to be done up perfectly. Rather, an imperfect bowtie will give your costume that much more character. Lincolns bowties were obviously hand-tied, but pre-tied bowties are available as well if you don't want to bother with the tying process.[8]
    • To hand-tie a bowtie, loop the bowtie around your neck, leaving a few inches more on one side. Draw the longer end under the other side of your tie and loop it through the center, tightening it as you go along. Bring the longer end of the bowtie over the other end and pinch them in the middle, looping the longer end through a hole at the back. Tighten it gently.[9]

Method 2
Doing Lincoln Hair and Makeup

  1. Image titled Make an Abraham Lincoln Costume Step 3
    Get a thick chin beard. Lincoln's beard was arguably his most distinctive attribute. His beard was based around the chin and allowed to grow quite bushy, without hiding his shirt collar.[10] Look at pictures of Lincoln's beard and groom your facial hair to match this. You can also make a fake beard with construction paper or brown felt. Use spirit gum to attach it to your face.
    • Although he's remembered for his beard, there were points in his life where Abraham Lincoln shaved his beard. A woman named Grace Bedell convinced him to grow it out. This had the effect of making Lincoln look more trustworthy and warm.[11]
  2. 2
    Wear a set of bushy eyebrows. Eyebrows are a distinctive trait of Lincoln's.[12] Although not quite as iconic as the beard, they should be considered if you want to make a convincing Lincoln costume. Either purchase some fake eyebrows from a costume store, or make some of your own by gluing pipe cleaner onto thin strips of brown construction paper. From there, you can glue them to your face using spirit gum.
  3. 3
    Get Lincoln's gaunt cheeks with makeup. Lincoln had a very striking face, with sunken cheeks and protruding cheekbones. One way to replicate this look is by using stage makeup. You should first suck n your cheeks. This way, you'll be able to see where the contours of your face are. Next, take a grey or brown stage makeup and apply it to the area that's sucked in. Blend the edges with your fingers.
    • Because "gaunt cheek" makeup is usually reserved for horror costumes, it's a good idea to be very moderate with the makeup you use here, provided you're going for a "realistic" Lincoln.[13]
    • You can try different variations on makeup to create different looks. A "zombie" Abe Lincoln can be done by using lots of white with black around the eyes.[14]
  4. 4
    Tousle your hair. Lincoln was known for preferring to keep his hair unruly, as opposed to smooth. If your hair length is approximately that of Lincoln's, you should tousle it up by rubbing your hands coarsely through it. If your hair is quite long, you can get some of the same untidy impression by trapping all of your hair under your top hat and letting a few strands hang loose.

Method 3
Exploring New Costume Ideas

  1. 1
    Accessorize your look. There are endless creative ways you can spruce up a costume once you have the basics down. Because Abraham Lincoln was a politician, you might consider making a pin that says "Vote Abraham Lincoln" on it and pinning it to your jacket. The real Lincoln was also often seen holding pocket watches, so adding one to your costume may be a good idea for the fake of authenticity.
    • A walking cane is always a good add-on to a costume of this nature.
  2. 2
    Explore making your costume from different materials. A good costume maker won't be limited to the most obvious costume solutions. In truth, there's a virtually endless amount of ways you can make yourself look like Lincoln, without even wearing the proper clothes for it. For instance, you could use paper and black spray-painted cardboard cutouts to make the costume's "coat" and "hat," then tie the pieces around your body. This approach can be called the "Paper-raham Lincoln" costume.
    • Don't underestimate the effect of multiple layers in a fake materials-based costume. For instance a "dress shirt" underneath the cardboard coat could be made by cutting out some of the cardboard in the middle and gluing white construction paper
  3. 3
    Try a Babe-raham Lincoln costume.[15] Some women's costumes take the form of a "sexy" version of something. This often takes the form of combining the costume with a skirt and heels in order to feminize it. The "Babe-raham" Lincoln costume is a well-known example of this. You can exchange the big coat and pants for a black skirt and blouse. The only part of the original costume you should keep is the hat and chin beard.
    • The Baba-raham Lincoln costume is a spoof of "sexy" versions of Halloween costumes. It can be worn by men and women alike.
  4. 4
    Combine ideas from different costume sets. Because there are countless things you can do with a costume, don't be afraid to splice your Abe Lincoln design with other costumes. For instance, a cute cat costume can be merged with a Lincoln costume by taking the whiskers and ears, and throwing them together with the chin beard and top hat. If you have a stockpile of costume materials, you should experiment with different combinations using what you already have.
    • You get bonus points if you're able to make Abraham Lincoln pun from the combination you've created.

Method 4
Acting Like Abraham Lincoln

  1. 1
    Speak with civility and politeness. Lincoln was no pushover, but all of his recorded speeches make him out to be a very down-to-earth, respectable and noble-minded speaker. If you want to be a great Abraham Lincoln, you should act with nobility no matter where you are. Keep your volume levelled, and don't speak out of turn. However, when you do speak, you should do so with force and conviction. This manner of speaking is a good part
  2. 2
    Approximate Lincoln's accent. If you want to go the extra mile, try to nail his likely accent. Compared to modern accents, Lincoln might be pegged somewhere between a Kentucky and Indiana accent.[16] Look up examples of these accents and pick up on the ways in which particular sounds are inflected.
    • Actors have tried to replicate Lincoln's way of speaking. Look at a reading of Lincoln's speech and get a hang for the way an actor will inflect his voice.[17]
  3. 3
    Talk using a tenor voice. Although no recordings of Lincoln's speech exist, historians have done research and concluded that Lincoln's voice was considerably higher-pitched than the usual baritone we hear from politicians.[18] His voice was however not shrill or silly sounding. If you have a naturally deep voice, try to sound a bit higher than you normally would.
    • Edison's first recordings of human speech occurred 12 years after Lincoln's death. This makes it anyone's guess what he really sounded like.[19]
  4. 4
    Watch the movie Lincoln. Steven Spielberg's 2012 Lincoln biopic has been acclaimed for its historical accuracy.[20] In particular, a lot of attention has been given to how true Daniel Day-Lewis' performance is to everything we know of the man. If you want to get Lincoln's inflections and personality down, you should watch the film and try to emulate the actor on screen. Take care to note the way Lincoln talks, as well as the manner in which he moves.
    • If you were still stumped on certain aspects of your costume you should look at the way the film's costume crew approached Lincoln's look.


  • The more you read up on Lincoln, the better you'll be able to dress and act like him. Nothing beats background knowledge when it comes to making a good costume.


  • Make sure your costume fits your body's size. Some costumes are meant for children exclusively, while others are intended for adults.

Article Info

Categories: Historical Costumes