You will repeatedly read on this blog that I like to incorporate vintage and second-hand pieces into my costumes. This is a leftover habit from my childhood.
Growing up, when the Halloween season rolled around, it was an exciting time. There were unlimited possibilities, not only of who you could be but how you would create your character.
We had a small collection of costume masks and wigs, likely purchased from the local Duckwalls, but most of our costumes were assembled with everyday clothing and accessories or crafted from scratch. Many moments spent digging through my mother’s closet and jewelry box to find just the right pieces are fond memories and influence how I like to do costumes still today.
We have quite a selection of costume pieces around here. Some were new, but many were purchased second-hand. I love going on the hunt and discovering a piece from the past that we can incorporate into a character. Even items that aren’t obvious costume pieces can play a role, so don’t overlook that brown tulle square dance petticoat. It might come in handy.
I like vintage pieces for their quality, style, and uniqueness, but there are many reasons to shop second-hand.
Show Me The Money
Planning to take in a Halloween party, haunted house, or other costumed events? Great! There are tons of costume options, in-store and online, from which to choose.
Once you decide on your character, add the costume, shoes, wig, hat, glasses, and other accessories to your cart. Egads! The price can really add up fast.
Costumes may be required but spending a fortune isn’t. Whether you are shopping for an entire ensemble or just pieces, you will likely save some moola by shopping second-hand.
Who Wore It Better
You arrive at the Halloween hootenanny decked out in your character garb. Grabbing a drink and an appetizer, you mingle through the crowd. You round a corner and come face-to-face with your twin. Oh. The. Horror.
Even if most of your costume is new and off the rack, adding in second-hand pieces will give you a unique edge over anyone else who dare choose the same character as you.
When nothing but authentic will do, second-hand shops are the go-to. Nearly every decade is represented.
Need a ’50s greaser look or a ’60s Mad Men-style ensemble? How about some ’70s hippie bell-bottoms? Perhaps some ’80s neon exercise clothing? Or does ’90s grunge apparel more suit your costume style? If you want the real-deal, second-hand is where it’s at.
The costume party is coming up quickly, and you have no idea what you want to be. Second-hand shops can be a bounty of inspiration.
Walking the aisles, an orange sweater catches your eye, and you instantly think Velma from Scooby Doo. A vintage camera next to a Hawaiian shirt is the beginning of a tourist costume. A bit of distressing and a touch of dirt added to a men’s suit makes for an original zombie character.
It's Easy Being Green
Unless you’re a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle or the Hulk, you don’t need to wear any green in your costume, but you can still go green. Second-hand shops keep millions of pounds of goods* out of the landfills. So, by shopping second-hand, not only can you assemble a unique costume, but you also are helping the planet.
Where To Begin
Usually, when someone says second-hand, or thrift shop, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or the DAV come to mind. These are great resources for costumes, but here are a few more to consider.
When shopping locally, don’t overlook church and Catholic Charities’ thrift stores, consignment shops, flea markets, yard/estate sales, and even antique shops. Military Surplus stores are another great resource. Your area theaters, schools, and even costume rental shops may occasionally offer costumes for sale.
When shopping online, your first instinct for thrifty finds may be eBay but don’t forget to check on Etsy and Poshmark as well.
My Favorite Shops
Aside from the local thrifts, I often shop second-hand online at eBay and the Rusty Zipper.
On a recent trip to Burbank, CA, I fell in love with Play Clothes Vintage, Junk For Joy, and It’s A Wrap. If you’re in the area, I recommend stopping in, or you can check them out online.
Until next time. See you at the second-hand shops!