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Style > Fashion

20 Thrifted Halloween Costume Ideas

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

It’s the beginning of October and Halloween is approaching fast. And let’s face it, we’re living on a college budget and can’t always drop hundreds of dollars on pieces or costumes from Spirit Halloween. Thrifting your costume won’t just save you money, it’s also more sustainable and you can probably wear what you buy for more occasions than just one. I’ve been compiling my list of Halloween costumes for 2023 since last November, so here are some of my ideas for thrifted Halloween costumes.

Avril Lavigne

Go for a grunge-y look with Avril. Get a white tank top, tie, camo pants, and jewelry to add on top.


Many thrift stores have prom and homecoming dresses for very cheap which is all you need for Carrie. Splurge a bit and get fake blood and a tiara for this horror icon.

daisy jones

You can really play around with this option and find any of the outfits worn in the show. Everything is very 70s inspired and relatively easy to find at the thrift store, especially bell bottoms and long flow-y shirts that complete a 70s look.

Riley Keough and Sam Claflin in Daisy Jones and the Six
Lacey Terrell/Prime Video
Gossip Girl

Whether you’re going for the reboot or the classic looks of Blair and Serena, Gossip Girl has so many iconic outfits that can be found easily at the thrift store. Look for button-downs, blazers, plaid skirts, ties, and anything with a “preppy style.” If you want to go for Blair, throw in a headband to finish her look.

Savannah Lee Smith and Jordan Alexander on Gossip Girl
Karolina Wojtasik/HBO Max
Kim Possible

Kim Possible is such a simple costume all you really need is a black shirt, green pants, and boots. If you can find accessories to complete the fit it’s even better, but her iconic outfit can be recognized with such easy pieces.

Love Witch

A little more niche, but still easy to thrift, is a costume for the Love Witch. Pay homage to the 60s and the 2016 film by thrifting a long sleeve blue or white dress. What makes the look complete is the 60s hair and the blue eyeshadow that’s featured in the horror film.

Liv Tyler in “Empire Records”

Also a little more on the niche side is doing a look inspired by the movie “Empire Records.” Look for a light blue sweater and a plaid skirt for Liv Tyler’s iconic character, Corey. If you want to get a little crafty, make your own record store employee badge to go with the outfit as well.

Risky Business

If you have a white button down, socks, and sunglasses, you’re pretty much done. If not, a white button down is so easy to thrift. Throw a pair of spandex on underneath and you can channel your inner Tom Cruise in this iconic costume.


All over TikTok has been inspiration for mermaid/siren costumes. Shiny tops or bottoms with sea inspired colors is crucial for the costume. Plus, lots of ocean colors for makeup and adding beads or shells to your hair can make the costume much more fashionable.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in the Little Mermaid

For this costume all you really need is a black skirt or shorts, a white flow-y top, and a bandana. You can get super creative with it and accessorize as you want but everything is super easy to find at the thrift store.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Go for Audrey Hepburn’s iconic look with a little black dress, pearls—real or fake—and black sunglasses.

13 Going on 30

Jenna Rink has so many iconic outfits in “13 Going on 30.” I recently found her party dress at the thrift store so if you look there may be some hiding around. But, equally iconic is the look pictured. You just need a sleeping mask and a cute slip dress which can easily be found.


For “Grease,” go with lots of leather, which is fairly easy to find at the thrift store and can be worn all the time.


Whether it’s space or alien specific, there’s a lot of room to play around with this outfit. Look mainly for silver pieces like pants or skirts and go with a silver or neon top.


There’s so many different ways to do this costume which makes it so fun. Goodwill and other thrift stores sometimes even have witch hats and colored tights which can make the costume complete. Otherwise go for an all black dress or flowy top.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland is iconic on her own, but it’s a fun group costume as well. For her you just need white knee socks, a light blue dress, and a black bow.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

You can make this a group costume or solo and do a number of characters. The most iconic are of course Willy Wonka which you can achieve with a red jacket, top hat, and black bottoms or Violet which just needs an entire blue outfit and heavy blue makeup.

Easy A

Easy A is such a simple and cute costume that you probably already have in your closet. Wear black leather pants and a black corset and make an “A” to pin to your shirt.

Elvis or priscilla

Elvis and Priscilla or one or the other is an iconic costume that would be so easy to recognize. For Elvis look for white pants and a v-neck long sleeve or a white jumpsuit and pair with big sunglasses, a red scarf, and red belt. For Priscilla look for a long sleeve purple shirt and purple pants or a skirt and big boots.

AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
American Horror Story

With “American Horror Story” on its 12th season this fall, there are so many characters to choose from for a Halloween costume. Classics from the first season “Murder House” like Violet Harmon or Tate Langdon are very easy to thrift, think mid 2000s inspo like floral dresses, long cardigans, and Doc Martens. The third season, “Coven” would also be a great and easy costume to thrift, just look for black sunglasses, black hats, white or black dresses, and a black umbrella. All seasons have such iconic characters with wardrobes that are super easy to thrift.

Some thrift stores even have their own Halloween sections so make sure to check those out too if you’re looking for a costume. Sometimes it can be easier to look for individual pieces you like and figure a costume out from there — think biker, country, tourist, etc. But, thrifting a Halloween costume isn’t as daunting as it can seem, you just need a bit of time and patience to keep looking. Start soon before the last minute stress and Happy Halloween.

Sylvia Mack

Virginia Tech '24

Sylvia is a senior at Virginia Tech studying Communication with a double minor in Sociology and Event and Experience Management.