Thrift finds for a low-cost, last-minute DIY costume

Halloween is right around the corner, which means it's probably too late to order a costume online -- and Halloween specialty stores are sold out of their best looks.

But hey, if you haven't purchased a costume yet, you probably aren't the type to go for a run-of-the-mill costume, anyway. Your best bet? Thrift stores.

"You don't have to spend a fortune to have a great Halloween costume. Going to a thrift store like Savers/Value Village is both fun and easy on the pocket book. 96 percent of the secondhand merchandise at Savers stores is less than $10, and even lower in the kid's section," Mary Ginnaty, Merchandising Buyer for Savers/Value Village thrift stores, says.

How to master the art of thrifting
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How to master the art of thrifting

Never have an expectation for finding a certain item, keep an open mind. You might go in for a dress and come out with an awesome top instead.  

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While you’re thrift hunting, look for timeless pieces. Denim, cashmere and silk are fabrics that will never go out of style and can be purchased secondhand for much less than buying new! Also keep in mind that interesting prints are always a fun trend to incorporate and Savers is the perfect place to find those unique pieces.

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Browse a department you wouldn’t usually shop in and don’t limit yourself to size. Some of the best blazers, cardigans and shirts for women can be found in the men’s or boy’s departments. Interesting fashions can also be found by taking something in a larger size and adding a belt.

Get creative and look beyond the clothing that is right in front of you. A little DIY magic can give just about any secondhand clothing item a fresh breath of new life. You can take a skirt or men’s shirt, add a belt and you have a brand new dress!

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Wear something simple, such as flats, leggings and a tank top so that you can try items on as you shop.
When in doubt—grab it, and try it on. You never know!

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Don’t be shy and look closely at clothing and accessory items so that you can get a sense of the quality and craftsmanship. For example, look for textiles made in the USA, Canada, Italy and Spain – known for high quality fabrics and leather goods.

Thrift shopping is always better with friends! Bring a few shopping buddies and make it a competition to see who picks up the best hidden thrift treasure.

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Research the trends. Before you hit the sales floor, check out some of the latest fashion or home décor magazines for inspiration.

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Instant dressing room! Wear something simple like flats and a tank top, so you can try items on as you shop.

Shop left and right. Sizes change from era to era, so shop on either side of your normal size.

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Keep an open mind. Let the items find you for a change! You won't believe what you'll discover when you're not looking for it.

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Get playful! With thrifting, you can take risks without risking going broke. So have some fun with your style.

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Fits..almost? You can find amazing things that may just need slight alterations or repairs to make them work.

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Make a list. Get a thrift strategy: make a list of must-haves items then keep it handy for reference.


Mark your calendars. Post-holiday and spring cleaning are great times to shop. Can you say massive inventory!?!

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You won't just find a unique look at a thrift store like Savers/Value Village (with help from one of their in-store costume consultants, no less!) -- you'll also save a ton of money.

Take Harley Quinn as an example. A pre-made costume that everyone will be wearing costs $76.95 at popular retailer Yandy, but thrift store finds, including a hockey jersey, jacket, tights, bracelets and shoes ranging from $3.99 to $9.99 add up to half that amount.

There's definitely an art to thrifting, though. Ginnaty recommends setting a budget and having a general idea of what you'd like to accomplish. Once you're inside, browse every department for bargains ... You never know what you may find in the girls/boy's section!

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