Thrift stores are like brick and mortar time capsules, preserving the clothes and accessories of a bygone era. As someone who can safely say that half of my wardrobe is made up of vintage clothes from thrift stores, I’m obviously a little biased. And hey, I get it, thrifting isn’t for everyone; some people aren’t interested in old clothes, others hate the idea of second hand clothing, and others just don’t want to deal with digging through rack after rack of clothes before stumbling upon a gem. But listen, whether you’re obsessed with thrift stores or you avoid them, here’s a truth that transcends personal opinion: Thrift stores are gold mines for Halloween costumes.
Think about it: You can find a little bit of everything, there are plenty of clothes from various decades, and everything is pretty damn cheap. That means that you can decide to dress up as a hippie without spending a ton of money for a crappy, overpriced polyester costume at the party supply store and either never rock those clothes again without feeling like you just stabbed your wallet; better yet, you can donate them to another thrift store after you’re done with it, or maybe even keep a few elements that you actually like. You can even get the clothes messy without feeling like you wasted money on something you’ll never wear again; who wants to smear fake blood all over a brand new dress from H&M that you spent $25 when you can do it to a dress you spent $8 on? So, are you on board with this whole thrift shop scenario? Cool. Now, check out these 15 Halloween costumes you can buy at the thrift store for some much needed inspo.
A 1960s ModWith a simple shift dress from the '60s, you can be anything from a mod, to Twiggy, to Edie Sedgwick, to Suzy from Moonrise Kingdom. Thrift shops are full of these, and they're so cheap that you won't have to worry about tweaking them here or there; you could do anything from cut off the sleeves to make the dress sleeveless, to shortening the dress.These dresses usually aren't stretchy, so definitely try before you buy. Instagram/@MariolMuso
Eleven From 'Stranger Things'This Halloween, we can count on a couple of things. One, you'll see someone dressed in a sexy Harambe costume. Two, mad people are going to rock Stranger Things inspired Halloween costumes. The most popular one will probably be Eleven, which you can rock with a simple blue jacket and a pink dress with a Peter Pan collar. A thrift store will absolutely be your best friend when it comes to this quest, since there will be bubblegum pink dresses and Peter Pan collars all over the place. The socks, however, are probably best bought at a chain store. Oh, and even if you don't dress up as Eleven, you'll have a lot better luck finding '80s clothes while thrifting than at the mall. Coyote-King.tumblr.com
Rosie The RiveterClassic, recognizable, and simple as hell. You can always opt for a denim long-sleeved shirt and jeans, but for the most legit approach, you want to opt for a blue full bodied jumpsuit/pair of coveralls. Go for a dark blue color. You'll either find this in denim or in other heavy cotton finishes; there's almost always something like this at any big thrift store. If you're lucky, you can find a red bandana there, too. Instagram/@scarletskulls
'90s GrungeListen, with some flannel and blue jeans, you can be anything from Kurt Cobain of Nirvana to Angela Chase of My So-Called Life. You'll find everything from your plaid shirt, to your mom jeans, to your ironic t-shirt at your local thrift store for, like, under $30 if you're lucky! Etsy
Carrie/Bloody Prom QueenThis is where a thrift dress comes in handy: Why cover a perfectly good dress you might actually want to wear again and spent more than $10 on...in fake blood? Just buy a cheap formal dress at a thrift store and go ham. You could go as the classic Carrie or any other variation of a bloodied up prom queen or even a bloody bride. Yes, you can find old wedding dresses at thrift stores too! Pinterest
Girl Or Boy ScoutHey, it's yours truly. A couple of years ago (when this photo was taken) I wanted to be a Girl Scout, and while my sash was borrowed from a friend who was a Girl Scout back in the day, most of my costume was thrifted. From my experience, you can find a lot more Boy Scout outfits than Girl Scout ones, but either way a thrift store is your best bet if you want to cop this look for Halloween. Hell, you can even buy an old Boy Scout shirt to wear for fun (I still have one that I bought at a thrift store years ago; I wear it all the time). Instagram/@Offbeatorbit
FlapperSequined dresses can be expensive if you buy new, but you can find some cheap alternatives if you go thrifting. Find anything that has beads and tassels. Oh, and if you want to get extra glamorous, browse through the coat section. I promise you that you'll find a fur coat that would make Cruella Deville jealous. Instagram/@karolinaviolet
'80s Prom GirlThis is such a fun costume idea, especially if you rock this look as a group or with your bae. Thrift stores are full of over the top '80s (and '90s) prom dresses that are...I mean, they're hellish in the most endearing way possible. Definitely try them on before you buy them. Not only have dress sizes changed over the years, these dresses also tend to be pretty unforgiving, so don't expect a ton of stretch. Bonus points for making your hair as messy and '80s looking as possible. Etsyt
'Fresh Prince Of Bel Air' CastYou just aren't going to find replicas of '90s classics like neon windbreakers, OTT floral dresses, ridiculous sweater vests, or sassy, shoulder padded blazers at Forever 21, dude. Whether you want to dress up as Will, Carlton, Hilary, or Ashley, you'll find what you're looking for at a thrift shop. Gabbi Fresh
Disco DivaRelease your inner diva and dance the night away with a legit '70s jumpsuit. Yes, jumpsuits are definitely back in style, so you might have good enough luck buying one at your favorite store. But if you're not really into the idea of spending coin on a jumpsuit you'll likely never wear again, or you want to make sure your look is as legit as possible, your best bet is to cop one at a thrift store. I promise, you'll find a large array of jumpsuits there in a bunch of different colors and patterns. Definitely try to make sure you get one that is flared or a bell bottom hem, and don't pass up on halter versions either. Etsy
Vintage Baseball PlayerThere are so many long, structured dresses at thrift stores that your head will spin. Go for a League Of Their Own inspired look by buying a long button down dress in either pink/peach, gray, white, or light blue tones. Pair with white ankle socks, simple sneakers, and a baseball cap. Bonus points for making your hair extra curly. What's great about copping this dress, by the way, is if you like it enough but don't really do long dresses, you can get it shortened at a tailor or DIY the dress to make it shorter yourself. Then, your money didn't go to waste! Pinterest
A GreaserIf you want to pull off an authentic greaser look without spending a ton of money, a thrift store will be your saving grace. There are always tons of leather jackets for sale that are way cheap, so you don't have to buy a pricey one or end up with a cheap faux leather knock off that looks like pure plastic. What you do with the rest of your look is, of course, up to you; you can go for a more masculine look with a pair of classic jeans or rock a pair of pedal pushers if you're going for a more feminine look. Either way, a leather jacket will really pull your look together. Pinterest
The 'Heathers' CliqueThrift stores are the place to cop vintage blazers. Don't skimp on the shoulder pads, either! If you rock this as a group outfit, definitely make sure you each wear a different color blazer with matching skirts and socks. You can also just decide to rock a blazer and go as an '80s business woman as well, the choice is yours. Found Item Clothing
HippieHippie clothes are some of the easiest things to find at a thrift store. Look out for leather vests and suede jackets, as well as printed maxi dresses and peasant tops. You should also check out your local thrift store's collection of jewelry as well; you can score some cheap finds that'll really compliment your outfit. Pinterest
Early '00s PrepsterYou could honestly channel every popular girl or starlet (Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, etc) from the early '00s with this getup. You can even be the "Cool Mom" from Mean Girls with it! You probably won't find Juicy Couture in a thrift store (but if you do, score!) but any other sweat suit will do. Make sure you straighten your hair, too; the '00s were all about that bone straight hair. Bonus points for a small dog as your companion, but a plushie will also suffice. Pinterest
Have you bought a Halloween costume from a thrift store before? Tell us in the comments!