While we get super (read: SUPER) into Halloween, we can't help but roll our eyes every time we pass a big costume supplier chock-full of dead President masks, plastic axes, and slutty-everything looks. Over here at R29, we like to construct our October 31 ensembles on our own terms — and, that means getting thrifty. To stand out from the mass-manufactured crowd, we hit up our NYC vintage mecca, Housing Works, to piece together some easy-to-assemble costumes — complete with expert tips, obviously.
Because we wanted to make sure all our readers were covered, we tried to be as diverse as possible with our spooky-chic concoctions. Think: the flattering-yet-funny pun costume, the jailed-celebrity getup, the creepy-but-comfy look, and the one you'll actually wear again. Oh, and — wait for it — they're all budget enough to leave enough cashola for some potent witches' brew. What can we say, we're scary-good.
Photographed by Jacqueline Harriet
1. Reuse, Renew, Recycle
Buy something you'll wear again...actually
The best part about shopping for a costume in thrift stores is that they're filled with clothes, not costumes (at least not in the traditional sense). With this in mind, it's super easy to find elements of your final look that can be rotated into your everyday outfits, too. For us, this meant a great pair of on-trend floral pants...
...that became part of this Martha Stewart costume with the help of an oversized shirt, a floppy hat, and some gardening gloves.
2. One Prop Stop
Focus on one quirky piece
Thrift stores often have one oddball item that can easily be the base of an easy Halloween costume. Find an old golf club? Turn it into Caddy Shack! An old tutu? Hello, Black Swan! In this case, we're digging these gigantic rain boots...
...to put the finishing touches on this Deadliest Catch costume. Yes, the rubber jumper helps, too, but with rain boots, a beanie, and the addition of some ghoulish zombie makeup (ehem, not pictured), you're instantly turned into the deadliest catch around. Weapons or fish nets optional.
3a. All In The Family
Pick something your friends have, too.
Nothing is more effective than a group of costumers dressed up in the same look. And it's easier than you think. Blue jeans and a black leather jacket quickly become the T-birds. Or, in this case, your preppiest plaids turn into...
...a dead ringer of the clique in Heathers. Just remember your best scowl! Extra points for some croquet mallets, too.
3b. Part Of The Group
Pick something your friends can play off of, even if they can't duplicate it.
You don't have to look as polished as The Rockettes to dress up with your posse. Instead, find a standout ensemble that can be worked around. For example, this green dream becomes...
... Mrs. Peacock from Clue. An ensemble cast (or um, board game!) with strong personalities such as this one lends itself to strong costumes that somehow work harmoniously together. All you need is a Professor Plum... and one unknowing victim. Mua-ha-ha
4. Go For The Throwback
Utilize the vintage pieces to your advantage.
Well, duh, you are in a thrift store after all! So play up the other-era aspect of the garments in stock. Where else could you discover an of-the-times outfit that's actually of-the-times? For example, we turn suede and fur into...
...an adorable and authentic Hippie. Who isn't about peace and love?
5. Choose Something Pun-usualLean on a pun to piece together your look.
Though your joke may need a good "badum-bum" after you tell all of your quizzical party mates, in the end a good pun costume earns as many cred points as a scary one. This tip goes hand-in-hand with tip number two
(the Deadliest Catch
), in that it typically requires you to piece together your look surrounding one item. A top hat, some fancy clothes, and an "I'm sorry..." sticker can turn into a "formal apology" (get it?!), while for us, this fancy-shmancy cheetah coat became...
...An AristoCAT. Okay, we're not sure if that one landed, but we're still pretty into it because you get to look good, and have a zinger at the party. Play it up with a top hat and some whiskers and you're all set to go.