Cut down on waste using Halloween costume pieces from thrift stores

Media Credit: Sydney Walsh | Photographer

Head to a thrift store like Buffalo Exchange and grab all the materials needed for a Halloween costume.

The spookiest part of Halloween is sometimes less about haunted happenings and more about the waste that comes with the holiday, from plastic candy wrappers to throwaway store-bought costumes.

The United States produces about 25 billion pounds of textiles each year, and Halloween only exacerbates that number. Buying a used item significantly reduces your carbon footprint, so you can feel good about shopping for your costume secondhand.

There are several online retailers like ThredUp, Poshmark and Depop that sell some new and some used pieces. You could also hit up one of the District’s secondhand stores like Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill or Saint Alban’s Church Opportunity Shop in Cathedral Heights. Head to these shops and piece together an eye-catching costume using secondhand items this Halloween.


Buffalo Exchange on 14th Street has several spinning racks filled with men’s flannels for as low as $5. For this simple costume, invest in a comfy flannel that you could see yourself cozying up in, a pair of jean shorts or overalls and a black beanie. You can add a pair of suspenders or a DIY cardboard hatchet for an extra touch.

Flapper/1920s socialite

For this costume, all you’ll need is a few thrift store staples. First, find a fringy dress or a sparkly, over-the-top frock and pair it with some gaudy pearls. Then, locate a large boa and add some tights and black heels. Finish it off with a sequined or feathered headpiece that you can most likely find at any vintage or antique thrift shop.

Audrey Hepburn’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”

This simple costume is comprised of a few vintage pieces you’ll be sure to find at a local thrift shop. Search for an elegant A-line black dress and a pair of black satin gloves to match. Top it off with a set of short, stacked pearls, a pair of black sunglasses and a mini crown. Fashion your hair into an up-do and voila – a timeless and glamorous costume.


One word: leather. Leather is an abundant material at most thrift stores, and you’ll need to find just one leather jacket or vest to make yourself stand out as a biker. You can pair the jacket with light-wash jeans or leather pants. Add a red bandana around your neck or wear it as a headband, and finish the costume off with black sneakers and some fishnet gloves.

Cher or Dionne from “Clueless”

Channel the ’90s by dressing as the classic “Clueless” duo: Cher and Dionne. Their preppy-plaid look requires a few simple pieces. A staple that thrift stores will never run out of are blazers. For Cher, you’ll need a yellow plaid jacket and a matching skirt. For Dionne, you’ll need a black-and-white plaid jacket and a matching skirt. Then, search for two pairs of thigh-high socks and white tube tops to match.

Ferris Bueller

Ferris Bueller’s iconic ’80s look can be easily created with some select secondhand finds. You’ll need an ivory leather jacket, a white t-shirt, gray slacks and a patterned sweater vest. Accessorize with black sunglasses and white leather loafers.

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