Halloween for the Broke: Dress to Impress On A Shoestring Budget


Got no money?  Don’t freak out. Halloween is the perfect time for creativity.

You thought your days of dressing up would end when you graduated middle school.  But Halloween isn’t just for kids anymore.  You don’t have to break the bank to compete with the Slutty Mad Hatter costume- in- a- bag.  Use these thrifty tips for a memorable costume.

Tip #1: Kick it Mean Girls style

Karen Mean Girls Halloween

When in doubt, go with the slutty standby:  Lingere and some form of animal ears.  Don’t have animal ears?  Snip off a pair from a beloved stuffed animal and hot glue them onto a headband.  Don’t have lingere?  Thank your mother.

 Tip #2:  Goodwill > Party City

If $50 seems a little steep for something you’ll only wear once (and something hundreds of other people will also be wearing), hit up your local thrift store.  The Salvation Army sells used costumes, which is kind of gross only because Halloween costumes are kind of gross to begin with.  Skip those.  Scour the racks for anything that catches your eye.  Buy out the 25 cent basket and go as a homeless person.  Thrift stores are full of souvenirs, so buy some of the ugliest vacation garb you can find and go as a tourist.  Or, just find something so outrageous you’d never wear it in your real life, and think of a clever name.

Tip #3:  Say it with makeup

Halloween makeup graphic

You can buy an all- purpose makeup kit from Wal- Mart for three bucks and be a zombie, a Frankenstein, a Hulk, an Avatar, a witch, a burn victim, a clown, or anything else you can think of with eight colors and a sponge.  Don’t feel like splurging?  Dig out all your makeup (or your girlfriend’s makeup) and work with what you have.  Most looks can be achieved with eyeliner, powder and red lipstick.

Check out this awesome skeleton makeup tutorial here.

Tip #4:  Hit up your house

Don’t have time for the store?  You probably have everything you need for the perfect costume laying around your house.  Dig up old costumes and accessories left from theme parties and holidays.  If you’re not down for repeats, mix and match for new alternatives.  Did you dress up as a fairy one year and a princess the next?  Bam- Fairy princess.  Or maybe you were a zombie one year and Cleopatra a different time.  Zombie Cleopatra.  Dressing as a space cowboy allows you to utilize all your dorky western wear AND your dorky sci- fi props.  That light saber from Disneyland you’ve never let go of makes a great laser sword!  (Ditto your old nerf gun).  Or, if you haven’t saved all your party crap, take Tip #5…

Tip #5:  Be yourself!


Changing fads are Halloween costumes in themselves.  Perhaps you went through a phase so hideously embarrassing you can only laugh at it now.  Were you a goth?  A scenester?  A rabid fan of One Direction?  Did you ever compete in a beauty pageant?  Were you once the world’s worst Girl Scout?  Dig up those memories and turn them into a perfectly personalized Halloween costume.

Tip #6:  Watch Saturday Night Live for inspiration


Dressing up as an SNL character  is hit or miss.  The good news is, these characters usually have really easy costumes.  The bad news is, no one gets it when you dress up like an SNL character, especially if you pick one from an obscure skit.  But you’ll know how clever you are, and so will all the funny people in the room.  Here are some ideas:

The Californians (maxidress + wine glass + stuck up vocabulary)

Stefan, Weekend Correspondent (trendy shirt + “sleeve” tattoos + combover)

The Coneheads (cone + head)

Hanz and Franz (grey sweatshirts and sweatpants + beer belly)

Tip #6: Celebrity Yourself

Caridee English rocks both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on America's Next Top Model

Celebrities wear clothes.  We wear clothes too.  Wear clothes like look like celebrities’ clothes and you can be a celebrity too.  Here are some timely examples:

Butt pad + BodyCon dress =  Kim Kardashian, and Kanye glasses make an instant, well, Kanye West.  Couples costume!

Underwear + red lipstick + tongue = Miley Cyrus

Leather pants + douchey t- shirt + babyface = Justin Bieber

When in doubt, Lady Gaga makes an excellent standby because she wears pretty much everything.


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