“What’s your Halloween costume this year?”
It’s a popular question asked of kids and adults.
I love dressing up for Halloween, but I don’t toss my fashion ethics to the curb for this one night. I utilize the same strategies for choosing my Halloween costume as I do when purchasing regular clothing.
Reuse. Don’t Toss.
I hold on to anything that could potentially be a Halloween costume — or part of a costume — because you never know when you can use it again. If you don’t wear it, maybe a friend or family member could reuse it for a future Halloween costume.
When I was in 8th grade, I gave an oral report about Sacagawea while dressed in a costume sewn by my mother. Six years later, my friend Mahshid (who is Iranian and could pass for the historical figure much easier than I), wore it to a college Halloween party and its been worn at least once more since then.
In the 80s, my mom and dad dressed up as escaped prisoners from the 19th century. Their black and white horizontally striped pants and shirts, complete with prisoner number on the left breast, were accompanied by a matching cap, and ball and chain. Years later, I wore that outfit to yet another college party, and then nearly twenty years later, my husband John and I wore them while handing out candy. Two years after that, when my step son Adam said he wanted to dress up as an escaped prisoner from Alcatraz, he wore one of the outfits. Four uses (that I can remember) out of one Halloween outfit. That’s a pretty good average for one Halloween costume.
Long before I was aware of the evils of fast fashion, some Halloween costumes were actually purchased new, including the requisite French maid outfit. I wore this tiny number at least twice, and then 20 years later, my 6’1″ husband John wore it while sporting his red beard and hairy chest.
Keep Classic Fashions
Marie Kondo is rolling her eyes at the thought of this, but hold on to today’s classic fashions because it could make an awesome costume in a decade or more. I’m not talking about an entire wardrobe, just a few items to hold on to for a mere decade … or three.
I have my mom’s prom dress from the 50s as well as her letter(wo)man sweater. A punk rocker outfit that I wore — as an actual outfit — in the early 80s was resurrected 30 decades when I attended not one — but two — 80s-themed parties.
I could kick myself for not holding on to more classic fashions for Halloween costumes of the future. So when you have your annual spring purge (you do that, right?!) hold on to pieces that you think might make an impact years — or even decades — from now.
Shop Thrift and Vintage
Many times, mere days — even hours — before Halloween or a themed costume party, I had no idea what I would wear. But upon walking into a thrift or vintage clothing store, a lightbulb went off in my head and a costume idea was born. So visit one of these with an open mind and have fun! They’re also good for locating vintage accessories such as long gloves and hats.
One year, John and made an 11th hour trip to our local vintage clothing store hoping to get inspired once we walked in. Upon entering, we spotted a beautiful blue ball gown that John wanted to wear and go as Elsa from the animated movie Frozen. Alas, it didn’t fit, so I ended up going as Elsa and John went as Erma, Elsa’s frigid sister. It was a concept he thought up on the spot. See image above.
Share with Your Neighbors
My neighborhood has a list serve and this time of year, if you are looking for a wacky outfit, somebody is sure to have it. Irish kilt? Check. Assorted wigs and fairy princess outfits? We’ve got you covered. And if you don’t have a list serve, there is always Freecycle and Facebook. Or why not organize a Halloween costume swap with your friends or your entire neighborhood? If your kids have grown and you no longer need kid-sized outfits, offer them to your neighbors.
I’d Love Your Feedback
In the comments section below, let me know about any of your last minute Halloween costumes.
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