Halloween costume waste is a very scary matter. An estimated 2,000 tons of plastic waste – equivalent to 83m bottles – was generated from throwaway Halloween clothing sold by leading retailers in the UK alone during 2019. Can you imagine what that looks like in America where we’re Halloween obsessed? Not to mention the Halloween costumes you get at stores (you know, the ones they charge $80+ for) are probably only going to be worn once. On top of this, 83% of the material used in Halloween costumes is polluting oil-based plastic likely to end up in landfill. Instead, I highly recommend trying one of these easy thrift store Halloween costumes. Not only are they cheaper to assemble, but you can re-wear and reuse the items you buy for it! The whole goal is to repurpose the costume clothes into something you’ll use again, to reduce waste. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling.
5 Easy Thrift Store Halloween Costumes You’ll Love to Wear
Who doesn’t love easy costumes with normal clothes!? I recommend looking at what you have at home and in your closet first, before you set off to the thrift store to create these costumes. You never know what you’ll find!
That being said, some items will likely have to be thrifted. And that’s A-Okay! Thrifting helps keep perfectly good clothing (and other household items) out of a landfill. It’s a great way to support a more circular economy.
You can also borrow some props or clothing items from friends and family. You never know who has what until you need it and ask!
The best part about thrift store Halloween costumes? You can personalize them all your own – there’s no wrong way to do it! So here are just a few ideas to get the old brain juices flowing!
1. A witch or wizard
I went as a witch two years ago and hands down it was my favorite costume so far. To be a witch, all you need are some witchy items, like a pair of boots, dark clothing of your choice, and broody makeup.
For added pizazz, you can include a cape, a wand or a broom with your outfit. For the cape, see if you have any capes from previous Halloween costumes (that’s what I used). A wand can literally be a tree stick (but I used a Harry Potter wand my fiancé got me). And a broom, you may already have or can thrift.
Crystals and gemstones are a good touch, as well as tarot cards. Have fun and get creative with it!
For wizards, a long trench coat and dark clothing works great. Steve, my fiancé, was a wizard to my witch and did exactly this! It worked wonderfully.
How to repurpose: I’ve re-worn the boots numerous times and the dress is perfect for fall!
2. A vampire
It’s so easy to dress like a vampire. Just thrift a black dress or outfit, do some dramatic broody makeup, and you’re basically done. For added effect, use a little red lipstick to make it look like you have blood running down your chin.
I think I’ll go as a vampire next year honestly. I have a whole character concept in my head already: Pin straight hair, black/blood red nails, boots, a slinky black dress, black eyeshadow, and a red lip. Simple, but it does the trick!
How to repurpose: They say you should always have a black dress on hand – so it’s easy to find a reason to re-wear this! Black clothes in general go with everything, especially in fall!
3. An alien
I’d love to do this for Halloween! Dressing up as an alien can look like a lot of things – but when I think alien, I think shiny! So thrifting for anything with sequins, glitter, or a metallic shine to it is perfect. Something that looks abstract and futuristic is great.
You can also DIY a headpiece too. I’m thinking of getting a headband and hot gluing aluminum “antennas” onto it. Or, you can thrift a helmet of some kind and paint it a metallic color, possibly even hot gluing some aluminum onto it.
I also love the idea of coupling this with some fun looking hair styles like space buns, pigtails, or high ponytails. And lets not forget shimmery makeup!
How to repurpose: You can always re-wear the outfit to a fun event, like a party, nightclub, or celebration of some kind.
You can do this fairly easily by thrifting some clothes you don’t really mind getting dirty or plan on using for rags later on. Going for a pair of jeans with lots of rips in it already is a great idea, paired with a ratty looking shirt.
You can always just use an old shirt you own as well and make it look extra old by using a razor blade to tear it in certain areas. When you’re done with this costume, make sure to use the shirt as a rag though!
Make your hair look wild and go big. Don’t forget the big bushy eyebrows too! And the longer the nails the better. Dirty boots or shoes of some kind complete the outfit.
How to repurpose: Reuse the jeans and turn the ratty shirt into a rag! Use it to clean up messes – rags can be rinsed and washed so you’ll get a lot of use out of it.
5. Beloved TV show/Movie character
Is there a TV show or movie character you just cannot get off your mind? Why not dress up as them? Last year I did this with Steve – we went to a Halloween party dressed as Love Quinn and Joe Goldberg from the hit netflix series You. It was a blast!
For my costume, I literally used things I already owned – a nice shirt, high waist jeans, boots, and jewelry I felt Love would wear. And I brought my own props – vegan cupcakes and a rolling pin – because she’s a baker. And, um, a killer (rolling pins can be deadly folks!).
You can easily thrift a look from one of your favorite characters on the big screen. It just takes a little creativity.
How to repurpose: Depends on the clothes you get, but the outfit I wore for Love Quinn has been re-worn several times because it’s something I already had in my closet!
Here are some ideas that pop to mind:
- Clark Kent: A suit, white button down shirt, glasses, superman t-shirt that goes under the button down, dress shoes
- Velma from Scooby Doo: An orange sweater, red pleated skirt, red flats, orange knee-high socks, glasses
- Beetlejuice: Black and white striped suit
- Timmy Turner: Pink hat, pink shirt, black/grey pants
- Powerpuff girl: Pink, blue, or green dress, black scarf (wrap around waste), dress shoes, white stockings (I went as Blossom one year – pictured above!)
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Sleeveless black shift dress, black heels, pearl necklace, long black gloves, bejeweled head piece
- Eleven from Stranger Things: Pink dress, light blue jacket, knee-high sport socks
- Wednesday Addams: Black dress, undershirt with white collar poking out, black tights + shoes, braided hair
I hope this list has inspired you to think of some fun thrift store Halloween costumes! What will you be this Halloween? Let me know in the comments!
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