In all fairness, these tips are only last minute because I’m posting them last minute. Many of them actually revolve around planning to make your own costume. These tips can (dare I say, should?) be used every year. There really is one overarching theme for these tips: Think outside of the Halloween store box.
The best part about planning ahead is that if you’re buying a costume you may well have more options to choose from. Also, Halloween stores will have sales toward the beginning of October every year and those stores will be jam packed with latecomers the closer you get to Halloween. That means you’ll waste a lot of time in line when you want to buy something. They also have huge sales right after Halloween. If you’re a perennial costume buyer and want a cheap one for next year you shoulder consider this option. If you’re building your own costume planning ahead will save you a lot of stress and probably time. There are invariably more things on store shelves at the beginning of October than at the end. Plus, if you can’t find what you need for your costume you have to time to go to plan B… or C… or D. Plan D being the plain white sheet ghost.
Build your own costume.
It’s really not that difficult. The first time you do it will probably be daunting, but with a little planning you can come out with a much better looking and more creative costume than you’ll find at your local Halloween store. And for less money! Full on costumes at stores will cost you at least $40-$50. That’s a lot of money considering they can be terribly uncomfortable and don’t look that great. You’re clearly paying a premium for convenience here.
Learn to sew or find a friend who does.
This directly follows-up on the “Build your own costume” idea. If you’re buying a costume, skip to the last item. Sewing really helps for building your own costume because then you don’t need to find the exact right piece of clothing for your outfit. For example, the tunic pictured above is a combination of two t-shirts; one of which is cut up to make the jagged ends. Amazingly, the t-shirts were the most expensive part of my costume aside from the shoes I bought, which can and already have been re-worn as real world shoes.
Look for costume items in smaller shops.
I needed a belt for my costume this year. Preferably a green belt. Do you know how much belts cost? In the tens of dollars, which doesn’t seem like a lot except depending on your fashion style the belt may or may not be re-wearable. On top of that, I’m trying to keep the cost of my costume under a retail store’s cost, so $10 would be a quarter of my imaginary budget. So where did I get the green belt in the picture? Daiso Marukai. For $1.69! Can you say, “WINNER?” Little shops can have surprising bargains and better selection for the more randomly colored and shaped items and accessories you might want to use this Halloween, so keep them in mind. I also recommend thrift stores, charity shops, and if you must shop in retail stores then Wal-Mart, Target, Marshall’s and Ross are good ideas. You know what you’re getting at the first two – namely, semi-cheap everyday stuff. At stores like Marshall’s and Ross it’s a complete toss up. You never know what you might find, like the women’s vest I turned inside out last year for my 80s Hair Band look because the inside of the too-tight vest had a leopard-ish print to it. And it was cheeeeap! (I forget the exact price, but I was pretty dang happy). So happy bargain hunting!
Your costume can be a take on a regular costume.
For example, almost any good character costume can be turned evil, and vice versa. Like an evil angel or evil [insert Disney character here]. Or you can be an off-color Where’s Waldo. This will allow you to pick different colors and kinds of clothing to still match what you want to be. For example, if your character normally wears bright colors, you can pick a darker shade that’s easier to find and then call that character Dark Halloween Character. It’s just that easy!
Lastly, and this is legitimately a last minute tip: Ask around and see if you can’t re-use a friend’s old costume, or even one of your own from 2+ years back. Who’s going to remember anyway?
If you’re really hard up for a costume at the last minute remember that this happens every year. Your friends must have dressed up in previous years and probably don’t want to dress up as the same thing again. So maybe you can borrow a costume or even swap old costumes with them.
Did I miss something? Have tips of your own? What ideas and tips do you have for buying or putting together your Halloween costumes? Happy All Hallow’s Eve!