Thrift shops – the best place for affordable costumes

With Oktoberfest coming to an end and Halloween just around the corner, I was reminded of the fun and excitement of planning costumes! There are multiple occasions throughout the year where you could dress up for, for example (other than the two I’ve already mentioned) Christmas, St. Patricks Day, Day of the dead, Mardi Gras and basically any themed or costume party you go to.

So what would be the first thing that pops into your mind? ‘I need to go buy a new costume!’

But the reality is, no, you don’t need to buy a new costume.

Why spend money on a costume that you are most likely going to wear once (let’s admit it, you won’t want to wear the same outfit for another event even if it matches the theme), then throw away, when you can easily put together an outfit from either what you already have in your closet, get a little creative and spice up your costume with some accessories, or from buying pieces from the thrift store! There are often HUGE varieties of clothing in thrift stores, it’s highly unlikely that you would not be able to find something that would match the theme of the party you are dressing up for.

This time last year I went on exchange to Amsterdam and did my fair share of travelling around Europe, and of course, I couldn’t miss the chance of going to Germany’s largest festival and basically one of the most spirited parties in the world, Oktoberfest! Apart from the beer, dressing up would probably be the next best thing at Oktoberfest, and I definitely wasn’t going to rock up without dressing the part. However, just like any other university student, especially the ones on exchange, I had to limit my spending as much as possible and therefore I had a tight budget for basically anything I did. Buying new clothes was definitely not in the picture, especially buying a costume that I was literally going to wear once and never touch ever again. So what did I do? Thrift shopped!

I practically lived off thrift shops when I was on exchange, whether it was for a costume or just normal everyday wear. There were so many cool and quirky thrift shops around Amsterdam, some of my favourites were Episode, the Kilo Shop and of course the local markets, and so it wasn’t hard for me to find something to wear for Oktoberfest.


Me (on the left) with a friend at Oktoberfest, Munich 2015.

My outfit may not have been as ‘traditional’ as others, but I definitely did not feel out of place. My whole outfit was either bought second-hand or borrowed from a friend, nothing brand new! I scored a green suede skirt from Episode for just 20 Euros (and it’s extremely good quality), my white top was borrowed from one of my flatmates, and my shoes were just $30 Australian I bought ages ago from an op shop in Melbourne. The best part is that I can easily wear these pieces separately on a normal day and it would be an entirely different outfit! Didn’t waste money on a costume that I would only wear once then chuck out, with the material most likely to be pretty bad quality that even if I wanted to wear it a second time, it may not last that long.

So the next time you’re planning a costume, (e.g. Halloween is coming up!), think twice before buying a new costume! If you really can’t find anything that you already have in your closet to play around with, don’t forget there are always thrift stops! And if you’re stuck for ideas and don’t know what to dress up as for your next party, pop into a thrift shop for some inspiration!




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