Costume Ideas From the "Popeye" Movie

by Nancy Hayden
The characters from

The characters from "Popeye" make a great costume idea for a group.

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Popeye the sailor man and his band of misfit friends and enemies have been around in comic form since the late 1920s. Robert Altman brought the characters out of animated form and gave them life in his 1980 live action movie "Popeye." The movie starred Robin Williams as the spinach-eating pirate and Shelley Duvall as his gangly lady love, Olive Oyl. The colorful movie inspires several character costume ideas.


Partygoers can rent or buy Popeye outfits at costume shops, or can pull together their own look at home to dress as Robin William's version of Popeye. Wear blue pants with a yellow belt and brown, round-toe boots. On top wear a black or white short-sleeved shirt with a red square pinned around the collar to create a sailor collar. To create Popeye's bulging forearms, wear a long-sleeved white or skin-toned T-shirt. Stuff the sleeves below the elbow with newspaper or foam to make muscles. Draw anchors on the forearms of the shirt to make Popeye's tattoos. Don't forget the sailor hat and corncob pipe.

Olive Oyl

Shelley Duvall was perfect as the gangly Olive Oyl in "Popeye." Several Olive Oyl looks exist, including shorter skirts and "sexier" versions. For a look that's true to the movie, wear a long black skirt that flares out below the knee and has a thick red stripe around the bottom. Match that with a red sweater and a white ruffled blouse. Wear black stockings and large black or brown boots with round toes. For the quintessential Olive Oyl hair, wear dark hair in a bun at the nape of the neck or purchase an Olive Oyl wig.


Swee'Pea is the adorable baby that appeared on Popeye's doorstep in the comic. Wesley Ivan Hurt played the infant in the movie "Popeye" and this character makes a fun costume idea. For an adult wanting to dress as Swee'Pea, wear a full-length nightgown to resemble a baby's dress and pair it with a novelty pacifier and a sailor's hat. Popeye, Olive Oyl and Swee'Pea make a wonderful costume trio for a couple with a baby as well. Dress the baby in a long dress and a little sailor hat that matches dad's Popeye hat.


Bluto is Popeye's longtime nemesis, the big mean brute who is always trying to steal Olive Oyl away. In the movie version, Bluto is brilliantly played by the massive Paul L. Smith. This outfit is similar to Popeye's costume, varying only in color. Wear yellow pants and a blue belt, the opposite of Popeye, and a black button-down shirt. Stuff the whole shirt to make Bluto's bulky muscles, or stuff the forearms like the Popeye costume. Wear a blue cap with a brim and a thick dark beard and mustache, which guys can purchase at a costume store.

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