Erin from A Wife of Material shares some inspiration on how to create easy costumes for a student theater production, your kids’ dress up box or Halloween (hey, it’s never too early to start planning ahead!). What costume inspiration have you found at Goodwill?
DIY Thrifting: Costumes & Dress Up
Growing up, my mom was always crafting. Having a family of four with a limited budget and two little girls who loved to play dress up, she had to get creative with our Halloween costumes and our dress up box. Buying costumes off from the rack wasn’t in her vocabulary. My sister and I never knew the difference. If anything, we got the added bonus of inheriting some of that creativity from her.
I discovered this inherited talent when I became the director of a high school drama club. Putting on a play calls for loads of costumes, and directing a public school drama club means having very little money at my disposal for outfitting my students. It can be the same thing when you are a parent. Kids grow so quickly, and their interests can shift just as fast. We all know budgets are tight these days, so how can you make all of your kids happy and well outfitted? Simple.
Have an open mind.
The clothing people donate to places like Goodwill always surprises me. You have a lot of modern pants and shirts, but in the dress section, you have all of these pieces from decades ago. While some people may turn up their noses because it’s not in style right now, these pieces make the best additions to costume boxes. For example, check out this dress:
This was a donation and clearly not from any recent decade, but it made a perfect dress for a play based in the eighteenth century on stage. The qualities that could have made the dress passed over because it was outdated ended up being what made it so great. Another great part? The dress was only $4.99, a steal when costumes in a theater catalog can cost anywhere from $35 to $100.
A basic dress, shirt, or pair of shoes or pants can be made into something magical with a little creativity. You don’t even need to have a sewing machine. A simple needle and thread, a pair of scissors, some hot glue, and basic art supplies can turn ordinary into a brand new object. A simple sheet from the fabric section can be made into a toga when I cover William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. A pair of ugly shoes can be super with a coat of glitter and Modge Podge! Basic pieces of cloth can be made into dresses or shawls for period plays.
A little elbow grease and some paint can turn a basic shirt into the whole centerpiece of a Halloween costume… well, if you can find the person wearing it!
You can also cut and re-sew a dress to make it into something new. The dress below was a 1980s prom dress before we refashioned it into a more appropriate princess dress fit for Rapunzel.
The possibilities are endless. You can use objects you find around the house or inexpensively at the thrift store. Be fearless and creative! You can create some excellent costumes and stock that costume box in not time. Your kids (or students!) will thank you for it!