If you’re anything like me, things like gifts, projects and Halloween costumes always get left to the last minute. Each year, I find myself digging through my closet to pair together random pieces, as I hate to buy a costume from Target, a halloween store, or online merchant that I will never wear again.
This year, I have been trying to shop mainly from thrift and second-hand stores since they are a more sustainable and less-costly option. Fast fashion also has devastating effects on the environment, since “up to 14 million tons of textiles end up in United States landfills each year.”
Most people either grow out of their costumes by the next year or want to dress up as something else.
This gave me the idea to try and dig through the thrift store bins and racks – instead of my closet – to look for a Halloween costume. I had never done this before, so I was really excited to see what I could come up with.
After looking at a couple different thrift stores in San Luis Obispo, I found some fun pieces that would make for great costumes. I tried to conceptualize them into more unique ideas, instead of costumes that all your friends will be planning to use as well.
It is also important to realize that these items of clothing are just that: clothes! They can be worn and used again outside of a costume setting, making them affordable pieces with many purposes.
1. Harry Potter
As a total Harry Potter nerd, I have to admit that I dressed up in a similar costume when I was younger. This is amore adult version: a white blouse, red scarf (go Gryffindor!) and black skirt.
This could also be worn with black pants and accessorized with glasses, a wand (a stick will do) and some leather shoes or boots. Don’t forget Harry’s signature lightning scar on your forehead!
2. Sherlock Holmes/Detective
When I saw this trench coat, I knewit was perfect for a detective-themed costume. Later on, I found the hat and the look was complete. Pair with a magnifying glass, brown boots and any color tie.
I’ll admit that this one is a little silly. However, if you find some simple camo pieces, you can dress up as “Invisible” for Halloween. Prepare to get lots of jokes about it though!
4. Shaggy from “Scooby Doo”
Dressing up as the “Scooby Doo” characters is a fun and easy group (or individual) costume idea. The outfits are simple and easy to replicate.
While at the thrift store, I found this green jacket and khaki pants that look glaringly similar to the outfit of Shaggy. Pair with some black or brown shoes and make sure your hair is looking a little messy!
5. Pink Lady From “Grease”
This little satin shawl is so cute! I saw it and immediately thought of the Pink ladies in the musical movie Grease. I was only able to find a longer pink tutu at the thrift store, but any pink skirt would work.
Pair with white shoes, tall white socks and a curly, bouncy ponytail. You could even get creative and embroider the back of the jacket.
While thrifting costumes is fun, it is always important to remember – when shopping at thrift stores and other secondhand shops – that for low-income families, shopping at secondhand shops may be their only option to find trendy clothes.
I love thrifting as a hobby and for the sustainable aspect of purchasing previously owned items, instead of supporting large stores. However, there is an issue with (especially in young people) going to thrift stores and clearing out all of the desirable clothes only to resell them on applications like DePop or Poshmark for a much higher price.
While this may be an easy and fun way to make a profit, it directly impacts people who depend on local thrift stores to get clothes, shoes and other household items at a low cost for themselves and their families. I urge anyone who likes to thrift or is considering going to buy a halloween costume after reading this article, to be conscious and only buy what they really need.
That being said, I definitely think that thrift stores are a great place to find a Halloween costume. I had a fun time looking around and got to be very creative coming up with uses for fun and stylish pieces I had found.
I would recommend costume-shopping secondhand as it is better for the environment (gives clothes a second life and reduces support for fast-fashion companies), is fairly inexpensive, and is honestly really fun, too.