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How can I Make a Halloween Costume from Clothes I Already Have?

Thrift stores offer an inexpensive alternative to using clothes one already owns for a Halloween costume.
A woman dressed as a gypsy.
Pipe cleaners come in many colors.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 April 2014
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A Halloween costume does not have to involve hundreds of dollars in expensive rentals or purchases. Inspiration for a costume can often come straight from one’s closet, since often one can make do with home clothing or home accessories.

An easy Halloween costume for women is the gypsy or fortuneteller. Take a few skirts of different patterns, a blousy shirt, and a few scarves. Scarves can be hung over a single skirt to provide more patterns, or a few scarves of different patterns can be tied at the waist. Finish with a headscarf, sparkly make-up and hoop earrings, and one hasn’t spent a cent on a good, traditional costume.

Another simple Halloween costume that can be made from one’s clothes is the king costume. This is really quite simple. Use a velvet, or terry cloth bathrobe of reasonable length, and tie with a fancy wrapper. One can purchase a crown, and/or a scepter for fewer than ten dollars, thus completing the look.

An old ballgown or fancy dress can quite easily make one into a princess or Glenda the good witch. Add makeup, a crown, or a wand for more emphasis. One can also purchase fairy wings, or can make one’s own from reasonably stiff cardboard and string.

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Leotards and unitards can easily transform one into a cat, or make wings and metamorphose into a butterfly Halloween costume. Choose a leotard or unitard in a pretty color, and use pipe cleaner and a headband for antennae.

Usually, the clothes you choose can be turned into a Halloween costume with minimal expense for accessories. If making, drawing or sewing is not your cup of tea, consider using silky pajamas with a black belt to become a ninja or karate master. Even easier is the lost tourist, accomplished with a Hawaiian shirt, straw hat, shorts, sunglasses and a crumpled map.

A Halloween costume does not generally have to be that fancy to pass muster. A simple white sheet easily converts to a toga. Add strappy sandals and one is suddenly a Greek Goddess or God.

If you like your Halloween costume to be a bit more weird you might try the “Rabid” a ghoulish mixture of bunny ears, bunny tail and vampire teeth. You can also be a lost tourist vampire with appropriate teeth. White or gray make-up and crazy hair can quickly turn you into a visiting alien.

If your closet fails to inspire, a Halloween costume can still be inexpensively designed by visiting a local thrift store. One can easily find “retro” looks that turn one into a disco diva or an 80s pop star. Also, you can look for a big trench coat, cap, and become a sleuth for the night.

Thrift stores are also a great place to shop for leggings for kids, especially. The teen boy who wants to be a pirate or medieval swordsman can usually fit into a women’s medium or large pair of leggings, providing the appropriate look. If a boy refuses “girl stuff” consider cutting off an old pair of pants in a ragged fashion, or using sweats that have been trimmed to remove the elastic bottoms instead.

In all, a Halloween costume can be had for a bit of imagination and perhaps a few dollars for accessories. Just as we enjoyed dressing up as kids, let the closet be your first stop to a slightly transformed, but still economical you.

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Discuss this Article

gameaddicted
Post 5

@empanadas - Sounds like fun! I have only seen a couple girl Halloween costumes for the trophy wife thing, but they are less than impressive. Yours sounds like you will have much more character for sure. Good luck and I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween.

empanadas
Post 4

My fiance and I have never done the couples Halloween costume in our lives. This year is the first year that we are going to go somewhere together dressed up. He is going to be a cop and I'm going to be the trophy wife. I'm going to Jersey it up, though, I think with nails, lots of make up and being high maintenance.

abiane
Post 3

@turtlez - That's cute. I always love looking at the kid and toddler Halloween costumes at the local novelty store that pops up every year. You can also check the local Party stores if you're not sure where else to go. On a last ditch effort, you could always just grab a white shirt and black permanent marker on some stripes. I'm not sure what you would do about the pants, but I'm sure you can find or think of something.

turtlez
Post 2

@lmorales - Sounds ingenious. I know a lot of people that come up with cheap Halloween costumes every year from old clothes and such, but I've never had the luck. This year my daughter is going to be a criminal (she's a toddler), but all those stripey costumes are for boys or adults... so I'm at a loss. I'm sure I'll find a way though.

lmorales
Post 1

I used one of the methods described above to become an angel one year. It was one of the best Halloween costume ideas I have ever had since I used an old Formal dress from high school. I just purchased wings, pinned up my hair and got a halo with some glitter all over my face and I was good for less than about 10 bucks.

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