Monday, September 12, 2011

Frugal Costumes: Make Your Own for Under $20

They say one person's trash is another person's treasure. This Halloween, we're ready to put that phrase to the test. No need to spend all your hard-earned money on a costume when you can create the perfect look for less than $20 by shopping at your local thrift store. Check out these 8 costume ideas for inspiration and get shopping!

American Psycho

Summons the creepiness of Patrick Bateman on a shoestring budget.

Thrift store finds: black suit, red tie, Walkman tape player, plastic sunglasses

Costume details:
  • Slick your hair back (80s Wall Street businessman style).
  • Cover your suit with a bloodied, clear rain coat.
  • Wear a Walkman or 80s style sunglasses and a bloody knife.
  • Add a few drops of blood to your forehead.

80s Prom Queen/King

The "don't stop believing" costume!

Thrift store finds: tacky prom dress or suit, bright flats or Converse sneakers, oversized bow or scrunchy

Prom Queen costume details:
  • Tease your hair and wear a large bow or wear a side ponytail with a scrunchy.
  • Wear bright blue eyeshadow and pink blush.
  • Wear a tiara (find this at your local dollar store) and/or sash.

Prom King costume details:
  • Roll up the sleeves of your suit jacket to your elbow.
  • Roll up the cuff of your pants leg and wear white socks.
  • Wear a paper or plastic crown (find this at your local dollar store).

Corpse Bride

Raise someone's old dress from the dead!

Thrift store find: wedding gown

Costume details:
  • Rub dirt on gown and add a few rips.
  • Apply white paint to exposed skin.
  • Draw stitches on your face with eyeliner.
  • Carry a bouquet of wilted flowers.

You can easily turn this costume into a Bride of Frankenstein by streaking a section of your hair white.

Mario or Luigi

Get a one up with an awesome Mario or Luigi costume! These costumes are perfect for buddies or couples, too!

Thrift store finds: denim overalls, red or green turtleneck

Costume details:
  • Wear a red or green turtleneck under denim overalls.
  • Draw a red 3 inch "M" or a green "L" on a white piece of paper. Cut out in the shape of a circle. Affix this to a red or green cap.
  • Wear black shoes and white gloves.
  • Wear a fake brown mustache (unless, of course, you have your own!).

Country Club Snob

You don't have to pay any dues to pull this look off.

Thrift store finds: pastel polo shirt, khakis or a white pleated skirt, crew neck sweater, tennis racket

Costume details:
  • Tie a sweater around your neck.
  • Pop your shirt collar.
  • Guys: slick your hair back. Ladies: wear a white headband or scarf in your hair.
  • Carry a tennis racket or toy dog in your purse.


With the new Smurf movie, this costume is sure to be a hit! This is also great for a Smurf theme party.

Thrift store finds: sleeveless white dress/white pants white toboggan, white shoes

Costume details:
  • Use blue body paint to create the smurf skin tone
  • Wear a blonde wig to complete the Smurfette look.
  • Bring a prop to be one of the characters – a wrapped present for Jokey Smurf, a hammer for Handy Smurf, wear black-rimmed glasses for Brainy Smurf

Crazy Cat Lady from the Simpsons

Crack your friends up by dressing like this beloved Simpsons character!

Thrift store finds: pink dress, pink apron, purple sweater, stuffed cat toys, slippers

Costume details:
  • Wear a grey wig.
  • Draw wrinkles with eyeliner around your eyes and the corners of your lips.
  • Using safety pins, attach several stuffed toy cats to your sweater and the hem of your skirt.

Richard Simmons/Workout Guru

Nothing to sweat here. We've got this costume covered!

Thrift store finds: plain tank top, short cotton or bike/spandex shorts, white tennis shoes

Costume details:
  • Tease hair to mimic Mr. Simmons' signature hairstyle or purchase an afro-style wig.
  • Bejewel the tank top with stars and peace signs.
  • Wear white socks pulled up to your shins with white tennis shoes.

Article courtesy of Chris Molnar. Chris is a writer and edits a Halloween decorations and costume website called, where he features decor tips, diy costume ideas, Halloween reviews and spooky stories. He's always dreaming up fun costumes, and finds second-hand shops a treasure trove of ideas, not to mention decoration props and materials!

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