A guide to finding a sustainable costume on a budget
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
It’s that time of year again, and dressing up for Halloween has never been more difficult. Back in the day, you’d simply inform your parents that your only desire was to dress up as a ladybug for the third year in a row. Magically, your costume would appear on Oct. 31st, and after a night of trick-or-treating, you would be in bed by 9 p.m, only to repeat this cycle for all of your childhood years.
As a college student, Halloween has evolved into a four-day bender, where every night requires a costume more creative than the last. Nowadays, the question, “What are you going to be for Halloween?” cannot be asked without expecting a detailed monologue response, outlining the several different group, couple and individual costumes that have been in the works since at least August.
But what if it’s a week before Halloween and you have nothing but a few ideas requiring loads of spending or online shopping? Even worse, the expensive accessories and niche costume pieces will likely end up in a heap in your closet at the end of Halloweekend, acting only to take up precious space in your miniscule college closet. At this point, being a ladybug for the fourth time might not seem so bad.
Halloween can get expensive, and for some, it doesn’t seem worth the time or money. But there are ways to make your costume of the night inexpensively and without investing in pieces that are never going to be worn again. Some of the best costumes are born out of desperation.
Here are some of our tips for constructing a Halloween costume on the fly, on a budget and sustainably:
Raid your (or your friend’s) closet
We may not be taught to peruse our closets with the eye of a costume designer, however, many overlook the endless possibilities that lay in our very bedroom. All it takes is a little searching online for an iconic outfit from your favorite movie or TV show, and finding the adjacent clothing pieces in your own wardrobe. When in doubt, sending a mass text to your friends asking if they have the missing items that you need is always a viable option.
For example, Jennifer Coolidge’s character Tanya McQuoid from “The White Lotus” has several recognizable outfits in the show. To match her energy in a costume, all you need is a long and flowy dress, a scarf to wrap around your head and a pair of big sunglasses. Have an apron and a white t-shirt? Congratulations, you will easily pass as Carmy Berzatto from “The Bear.” If you or any of your friends have an old school uniform laying around, this can be repurposed for the titular role of “Lady Bird,” if accompanied by a bright pink piece of plastic wrapped around your arm to signify her cast.
If you are trying to take a bolder approach, open yourself up to the idea of digging through that donation bag in the back of your closet. All the clothes that you don’t wear because you have ruled out that they are simply not fitted for any occasion. This could be that old sleep shirt you have and those pants or shorts you thrifted that ended up being too big. Voila, you have an Adam Sandler dupe. If this doesn’t satisfy your needs, go bolder. Find that pair of sunglasses that you never wear and use a white marker to make the acclaimed Souija Boy sunglasses. Don’t feel pressured to be sexy for Halloween. This is the opportunity to cosplay anyone without getting judged for the character you choose to play. Go bold.
Thrift for the win
Let’s say that you want to be Sue Sylvester from “Glee” or Ted Lasso from “Ted Lasso,” but no one you know has a tracksuit. Take a quick trip to any of the local thrift stores in Davis, such as Bohème, Goodwill, the Yolo County SPCA or the Aggie Reuse Store on campus, and you are bound to find the costume pieces that you couldn’t find in your closet. Thrift stores are also a great place to hit if you have absolutely no costume ideas at all. During Halloween season, most thrift stores have an entire costume section where you can buy used costumes inexpensively and sustainably.
Colors go a long way
Dressing up as something with a signature color is an easy way to achieve a recognizable costume. Don’t know where to start? The first step can be looking for a color that is abundant in your closet and going from there.
If you have a lot of purple, for instance, dressing up as McDonald’s Grimace is topical and effortless. Similarly, a Blue Man Group (or Tobias Funke) costume only requires blue face paint and an all-black outfit. Orange? Pumpkin. Pink? Dolores Umbridge. Any color? Power Ranger, characters from “Inside Out” or M&Ms. Once you start thinking like this, options are limitless.
Group costumes are the best way to make it look like there was a lot of effort put into your outfits (even if there wasn’t). While these costumes might take a little more effort to coordinate, the payoff is worth it. They make for a memorable photo op, and it can be fun to let your costume remain a mystery until you are standing alongside a group of friends. With this, there are many group costumes that are simple enough to find from the closet of you or your friends.
TV show and movie casts make for creative group costumes. For a group that loves pink, dressing up as all of the different barbies from the movie, “Barbie,” is simple, coordinated and vibrant. For a throwback moment, assign each of your friends a character from “Gossip Girl” and pick out everyday clothing that matches the preppy outfits from the show. For an animated movie moment, figure out which chipmunk from “Alvin and the Chipmunks” most embodies the aura of each of your friends, and dress accordingly.
Dressing up in a group also makes the more simple costumes fun. Choosing a farm animal to embody for the night will look like less of a last-minute costume if all of your friends are doing it too. The first step is to get your friends on board, and the next is to put your closets together in hopes of finding something that works for everyone.
Don’t be afraid to go niche
It’s okay if absolutely no one knows what you are for Halloween. Sometimes, it’s more fun that way. Dressing up as the infamous “couch guy” from TikTok requires solely a red t-shirt and gray sweatpants, and while you may have a lot of explaining to do, this deep cut will make for a crowd pleaser. If you want to go down the nostalgic route, dress up as The Amoeba Sisters with a friend—all you have to do is wear pink and purple. Once again, this may not be recognizable on the spot, but will likely ensure that your costume does not match anyone else’s on Halloween night.
It’s okay to be a ladybug again
Finally, it’s important to remember that reusing costumes is not a bad thing. If anything, it’s the most cost-effective and sustainable option out there. Halloween happens only once a year, and the chance that everyone remembers what you were two years ago is slim. If it was a hit before, it’s surely going to be a hit now.
Written by: The Editorial Board