10 Thrift Store Halloween Costume Ideas

The official countdown to Halloween has begun! With parties and trick-or-treating around the corner, its time to find that original costume, and what a better place than your local thrift store?

It’s amazing what you can find at the thrift stores during Halloween. Many stores, like the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores set up an area of the store specifically for second hand Halloween merchandise. They even offer consultants to help you piece a costume together!

Plus, it is a frugalite’s dream – buying local, recycling, very budget friendly – with a little creative thinking you can have a field day finding a great costume for Halloween.

To help you get the creative juices flowing here are 10 Thrift Store Halloween Costume Ideas:


Find two loose fitting skirts to layer, a large white shirt and a shawl or scarf. Find any kind of gaudy, large or flashy costume jewelry such as big hoop earings, bracelets and beads are good and you have just created a gypsy costume.

Bride of Frankenstein

A great classic Halloween costume is the Bride of Frankenstein. All you need to buy is white formal or wedding gown from the thrift store. Then finish the look by teasing the hair up, spraying stipes of white on both sides of the hair and adding some dramatic make-up.

Dr. Killjoy

Become a depraved medical practicioner who works in the Asylum. This costume requires a pair of scrub and a lab coat. Accessorize with a medical face mask, lots of fake blood on the outfit and large fake shot.


Thrift stores are always stocked cheap prom dresses. Adorn the look with cheap costume jewelry and a tiara. Need princess shoes? Paint a pair of shoes with silver, glittery paint.


Shiver Me Timbers! This costume can be made by a pair of jean cutoffs, a striped pullover shirt, an eye patch made out of black fabric and a red bandana. Look in the costume jewelry case for a big clip-on hoop earring. Enhance the look with pirate lingo – check out Pirate Speak: How to Talk Like a Pirate

80s Prom Queen

Thrift stores make it easy to find formal dresses adorned with giant bows, sequins galore, puffy sleeves, layers of lace and bubble skirts. To be an 80s prom queen you will need the tackiest prom dress, lots of costume jewelry, the biggest, crunchiest hair, and the brightest eye shadow to complete this look.

The Mother-in-Law

Mud masks and wearing curlers was popular with the women many years back. You just need to grab a bathrobe, throw on a pair of bath slippers, pin some rollers in your hair, and apply a mud mask. Halloween costume in comfort. If you prefer not to wear a bathrobe, find a pair of polyester pants with an elastic waist band and a tacky floral print blouse.


This is a great inexpensive costume. Pick up a suit and shirt you don’t mind getting messy. Tatter and tear the suit to make it look worn, a white face and black circles for the eyes will make any person look dead, and smear fake blood across body to complete the look. Women can dress it up with a thrift store prom dress.


There is always Hawaiian shirts available at a thrift store. Pair that with some khaki shorts, some colorful, large sunglasses, a sun hat, and an old camera to go trick or treating as a tourist. To enhance the look a streak of white make-up on your nose to look like you are preventing a sunburn and where some knee high socks.

This costume can also be changed up to look like a geeky nerd. Just omit the hat and camera, add black rimmed glasses with tape in the middle, and a pocket protector.


Steampunk is the Victorian era meets tech – think of the movie Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kevin Kline. Men can dress it up with wool suits, top hats, long button up shirts, cargo pants with lots of pockets, vests, belts, and a pocket watch. Ladies can wear gowns, layered skirts with big belts, button up blouses, vests, metal jewelry and flight hats. What makes the steampunk is a pair of flight goggles – to do so the frugalite way – paint a pair of swim goggles gold.

Do you have a favorite costume put together from thrift store finds? Or have another great idea to share?

(Photo credit: Kitty-Mutant via Deviant Art)

30 thoughts on “10 Thrift Store Halloween Costume Ideas

  1. Myra @ Hot Costumes Blog

    80’s prom queen or Madonna? Probably one in the the same. He he!

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  3. Moon Hussain

    Y’know Christine, I’ve never celebrated Halloween, but I’m going for it this year πŸ™‚ I’m not sure what my costume will be but this article is getting my brain going.

    How about you?

    1. Money Funk Post author

      Never??? That is odd to me. πŸ˜‰ I am a Halloween fanatic. Okay, well used to be one. This year my was going as a hobo with a bunch of her friends, but then the friends decided they wanted to do the Alice in Wonderland clan; leaving her w/out a character. So, my daughter and I are going in Steampunk attire. I will be sure to take a pic. What are you going as?

  4. Mom

    Our family, unfortunately were involuntary frugle, with 8 kids you have to be. We never, and I mean never, got a purchased costume, we were the same thing every year, hobos wearing old clothes with soot on our face. No fairy princesses for us. That’s why I always tried to sew my children’s costumes, although I did purchase costumes and it was what they wanted to be unlike mine were as a child.

    1. Money Funk Post author

      Hey mom, Ash was going as a hobo this year. Now we are going in Steampunk characters from a Sci fi movie. πŸ˜‰ And I love you for those plastic costumes and masks you bought me. You can’t even find a great costume like that anymore. They were so fun!

  5. David

    We have 5 kids, and have to be originally creative every year…the cost of the costumes in the store is outrageous. These are some great ideas! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Money Funk Post author

      The prices really are outrageous! That is why I said “no” this year. My family can be a clan of the zombies, or a group of hobos. Best of luck finding a clan of ____ for your family on Halloween.

  6. Fun Costumes

    Great post. Most of these are classics. The zombie is always a good choice and easy to pull off…

  7. Charles

    last year, our church had a party with “ugly sweater” theme and a few of us went to the local thrift store and bought the ugliest sweaters we could find…it was great! not only was it affordable, it was a lot of fun just browsing through the selections!

    1. Money Funk Post author

      How fun! It reminds of my friends funny sock party for Christmas. You be amazed how many funky socks are out there! And sweaters… I bet you could get some great tacky sweaters (past Christmas presents?) from the Thrift Store. Have a great time during this year’s Harvest festival. πŸ™‚

  8. savvysavingbytes

    You have some very inventive ideas here. But can’t imagine any female having the guts to uglify herself in the Mother-in-Law rig. While not much of a Halloween celebrator myself, I get a kick out of watching the brownstones on my block compete for the scariest house-front decorations. It’s gotten so competitive they’ve even brought in pros to do it up BIG.

    1. Money Funk

      I don’t know… but I kind of dig running around in a bathrobe. πŸ˜‰

      I would love to be in your neighborhood! Unfortunatley, ours stinks for Halloween. I think everyone goes somewhere else for trick or treating, because you need to walk like every 3rd house to get candy. And we live in a block located in the back…so we don’t get as many kids as we would like.
      However, we do have a house down the street that decorates their garage to the nines! Much like a Disneyland theme Halloween. Its very cool. My little glimpse of a great holiday.

      1. savvysavingbytes

        You just reminded me: I have lived in this building a zillion years and not one single kid has ever come trick or treating in the whole building. Nor do they trick or treat on this street. The only place I see kids all dressed up is on the commercial avenues further east where they make out like bandits collecting candy from all the stores.

  9. Jennifer Barry

    This was a fun one! I never would have thought of going to the thrift store. I’ve included this in the latest link round-up on my blog. Thanks for the ideas!

  10. Larissa H

    I know it’s petty, but it’s driving me crazy. Kevin Kline was in WWW, not Michael Kline.

    1. Money Funk Post author

      Not petty at all. Thank you for correcting me. All fixed. And thank you, Larissa, for visiting Money Funk. πŸ™‚

  11. Deviant Art

    You may want to credit the artist on DeviantArt, not the site itself (it is just a site that displays different types of art, not a publisher of it’s own work).

    Otherwise, interesting ideas!

  12. Kitty Mutant

    Hi there!

    What Deviant Art said above there ^
    It would of been nice to be asked for the picture useage and credit, but thank you for liking my image enough to want to use it! πŸ™‚

    Hope some great Halloween creations come out of your article!

    – Kitty.

  13. Money Funk

    Hi all. I will be happy to add/credit the photographer as soon as I get to a comp. My apologies for not doing so in the first place. πŸ™‚

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  15. Pingback: Halloween Costumes You Can Throw Together At Thrift Stores : Real-Time Finance

  16. Amanda

    Some of my thrift store costumes in the past:
    – Scarecrow (flannel shirt, old jeans, straw hat)
    – 80s rocker (denim skirt, old Metallica shirt, leather jacket)
    – Disco king (bell bottoms, flared shirt, tacky gold costume jewelry)
    – Hippie (tie-dye, leather vest, beads, bell bottoms)
    – Ghost (cutting holes out of a white bed sheet)

  17. Oana

    A gypsy? Sure, why don’t you also suggest a Chinese person, a Native Indian, perhaps you could also stereotype some other cultures.

  18. Pingback: Help With Money » Blog Archive » Online sites for cheap Halloween costumes

  19. Spencer

    Old Lady/Grandma: Hilarious for men or women
    Night dress with desired level of flamboyance and/or lace
    Pearl necklace
    White or grey wig
    Horned glasses
    Blush and lipstick
    Catch phrases like: Come here and give grandma a kiss!

  20. Jody Horton

    Halloween Supply Warehouse.com features a wide selection of fun, unique, and scary costumes for the entire family. They feature all the favorite costume ideas and themes we have grown to love over and over, like, witches, vampires, gothic themed costumes, and dark and sinister costume ideas for adults, teens, and kids.

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