Poppin’ Tags: Halloween at the Thrift Shop, Part 1

As a woman, it’s tough to find a premade Halloween costume that isn’t too revealing, cheaply made, or completely uncomfortable. Because of this, the last couple of years, I have ventured to thrift shops and discount stores to get inspired, and create my own costumes. The quality of what you get is infinitely better than what costume companies make, and you usually end up with a more unique costume since you have to think “outside the box” and work with what you can find.

Last year I was obsessed with Honey Boo Boo. The moment the first show aired, I knew that I had to be her for Halloween. So, I hit up Last Chance and got a designer pink bridesmaid dress for $15, and then rounded out that find with online orders of white Mary Jane shoes, a tiara, a sash, and my very own version of her pig Glitzy. It was epic (and super comfortable).

FINAL_CPS_Im a Nerd and I Love It_Jenny Boo Boo_08282013

So, by now you have to be thinking “Jenny, how do I get started?” The key to a successful thrift shop Halloween costume is planning. Here are my tips on what you should do before you head out to the stores:

* Brainstorm characters that you would like to be for Halloween, and narrow down to 2 or 3 finalists. The reason you want to have 2 or 3 is that you may find that the first character you select is hard to find elements for, so it’s always good to have a back-up plan.

* Once you have selected your characters, make a full list of all the items you would need to purchase in order to make the costume.

* Review the list and cross off any items you might already have in your home or wardrobe.

You now have your shopping list.

When you are ready to start hitting up the thrift shops, plan a whole day, if possible, for your outing. Before you head out, map your nearest thrift stores and plan your route. Most likely you will have to travel to more than one shop to complete your list. And if all else fails, hit up the internet for those final pieces that are alluding you.

While you are shopping, be flexible. When I dressed as Margot Tenenbaum, I was really struggling with finding something to use for her signature brown fur coat. I ended up having to use a brown knit sweater coat. Was it ideal? No. Did it work? Absolutely. Iconic characters are a combination of certain elements, and so as long as those elements are similar, or provide the color/style impact, you don’t have to find exact replicas, and in fact, almost 100% of the time, you won’t.

Need some ideas to get started? I’ve got you covered! Below are costume element boards for two of my favorite female icons, Rosie the Riveter and Frida Kahlo. Below each image is a shopping list for each costume.


1. Navy blue button-down short-sleeve shirt with collar (women’s or men’s version would work)
2. Blue jeans
3. Red & white polka dot bandana (a regular red bandana would work well too)
4. Black combat boots or Mary Janes
5. Red lipstick (hit up a drug store or your local dollar store for this item)


1. Mexican embroidered dress (if you can’t find this, you could always do a bright floral dress, or go more casual and find an embroidered shirt and wear jeans)
2. Sandals
3. Bright artificial flowers for your hair
4. Black shawl
5. Red lipstick (hit up a drug store or your local dollar store for this item)
6. Large beaded/colorful earrings (you could also do plain gold earrings, just go big!)
7. Gold chain knotted necklace

In a future post, I will provide you with two more costume boards and shopping lists, so check back in, and happy thrifting!

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One Response to “Poppin’ Tags: Halloween at the Thrift Shop, Part 1”

  1. Scott says:

    Great ideas Jenny and way to save and shop thrifty. I would wear a costume but it is hard to top being me.;)

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