How to Thrift Throwback Costumes

A cheap way to express yourself creatively on Halloween is to purchase your Halloween costume from a thrift store.

If you’re sick of the typical Halloween costumes — clowns, ghosts and vampires — you could mix things up with a blast from the past. Thrifting vintage clothes is a good option for those who want to create a unique look without breaking the bank. Check out these ideas for memorable vintage-inspired costumes.

Wes Anderson Movie Character
Wes Anderson’s movies embody vintage vibes that can easily be emulated in Halloween costumes. For Suzy Bishop from “Moonrise Kingdom,” thrift a 60s mini dress and a pair of white knee-high socks. Pair the outfit with bright turquoise eye shadow and winged eyeliner to complete the look. If you’d rather be Margot Tenenbaum from “The Royal Tenenbaums,” try a striped polo dress, strong black eyeliner and a thrifted vintage fur coat — Search and Destroy on St. Mark’s has a full rack of faux and real vintage fur coats for $20 or less.

This look is probably the easiest and cheapest to replicate. Lots of thrift stores have racks and racks of vintage homecoming and prom dresses. In the movie, Carrie wears a pretty simple slip inspired dress, but to amp up the 70s vibes it might be more fun to grab a particularly obnoxious one. Complement the dress with 70s middle-parted hair and copious amounts of fake blood for the full effect.

Charlie’s Angels
Live your Farrah Fawcett dream with this costume idea. As fashion and styling was so important in the show, there are numerous iconic outfits to model your costume after. Any outfit that flaunts the very best of the ‘70s should work — full flared jeans, barely buttoned brightly patterned shirts or classic glittery disco outfits all work for this costume. Pair these memorable items with hoop earrings, bronzed makeup and fluffy feathered hair.


Miami Vice
For a costume inspired by “Miami Vice,” find a particularly colorful vintage Hawaiian shirt — only buttoned halfway, of course — with crisp, white 80s trousers. For a more complete look that could be a little more challenging to track down, thrift a brightly colored suit. Pink, white or blue would work beautifully. Make sure to wear your hair greased back with a classic pair of Ray-Bans.

James Dean
This costume works for both James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” and pretty much every character in “The Outsiders.” The costume consists simply of a tight fitting T-shirt tucked into a pair of vintage Levi’s. In case it’s chilly, a motorcycle jacket would work great for this costume too, although it will be a little pricier. To complete the look, wear your hair coiffed and make sure to maintain a brooding expression.

Andy Warhol
To dress up as the iconic artist, thrift a breton striped shirt — or really any black and white striped shirt will work — and pair it with some black pants and a pair of Ray-Bans. To top it off, find a cheap white wig at any nearby Halloween store and muss it up a little bit to capture the artistic spirit.

Thrifting is a great way to find a unique costume without spending a ton of money. This Halloween, try some of these looks to stand out at any costume party.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 23 print edition. Email Alice Lammers at [email protected]



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