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My favorite holiday of the year is Halloween. Yes, I know! How could I choose this holiday over my birthday or Christmas? My answer is this: what other holiday can you dress up as a witch? Or as a superhero? Or as Flo from Progressive? 

There are no other American holidays where it is not only socially acceptable to dress up extravagantly, but it is actually encouraged and celebrated. Because of my love of Halloween, I’ve been really good at creating costumes over the years. I’ve been Wonder Woman, Rosie the Riveter, and Daphne from Scooby Doo, just to name a few. Now that I am in college, I’ve found myself with less and less money to spend on making the perfect costume. Below are some tips that I’ve used when creating a Halloween costume on a college budget—because you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your savings to dress up the way you want!

My biggest piece of advice: thrifting. If you are eco-conscious and still want to celebrate Halloween fashionably, this is a great option for you. Your local thrift shops and second-hand stores are a gold mine when it comes to costume hunting. Many people only wear their costumes a few times before getting rid of it or donating it. Some people only wear their costumes once. And if it doesn’t end up in the trash can, it will inevitably end up at a thrift shop. 

During this time of year, places like Goodwill will fill their clothing racks up with costumes. And because of their standards in accepting used clothing, the costumes they have will be in really great condition and at a much cheaper price than a Halloween store or online costume shop.

Another great thing about going to a second-hand shop is that you can assemble your own costume. If you are not liking any of the costumes they’ve already put together, you can create your own! This is a great way to make a costume that looks more thoughtful, homemade and realistic. You have the freedom to choose pieces that you really like and look fantastic on you. This lets you add your own special twist to your costume at a great price! 

If you are not so keen on wearing second-hand clothing or just interested in getting something new, Amazon is your best friend. Amazon—even with all its flaws—is an inevitable force when it comes to shopping, including costumes. A lot of Halloween brands sell their already-put-together costumes on Amazon, so you are able to compare styles and prices efficiently. Not to mention, if you have Amazon Prime, you can get your costume in two days or less, which is a life-saver if you waited until the last minute. Amazon grants college students a free Amazon Prime membership, so this would be a perfect time to take advantage of that!

When looking for costumes on Amazon, you do not necessarily have to purchase one of their pre-made costumes from any of the Halloween brands. Just like thrifting for a costume, you can find individual pieces that can be put together in the way you want. I highly recommend this for the basics as well as any detailed pieces that pull the costume together. Amazon has everything. If you are looking for a variety of options, prices and styles, this is a good place for you to look!

Lastly, your friends are your biggest resource. More than likely, your friends will have old costumes or pieces that can be turned into costumes. If you don’t want to spend any money, consider reaching out to them! You can work together to create a killer Halloween look without spending a dime.

At the end of the day, don’t let the big brand Halloween stores convince you that you have to spend bucketloads in order to get the costume you want. It is more than possible to find what you are looking for without breaking the bank: you just need to know where to look.

Liz McRae

Baylor '23

Hi, friends! I'm Liz. I love writing (obvi 😉), reading, and basically anything with a good plot. I am passionate about justice and fairness, especially in regards to women's issues and rights. I hope to go to law school and put that passion to use. In the meantime, I am a regular contributor here with a lot of opinions and stories to share!
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