Saving A Life With Fancy Dress Shopping

Saving lives and looking suave through Charity and Donation

With Halloween eerily nudging you to source a socially acceptable outfit (or not), what better time to explore a new creative alternative to the classic costume shop.

But, like most of us, you leave it till the last minute. The costume shops become beehives of bedlam, customers swarming like hungry, underfed wasps, grabbing and clutching at overpriced outfits that probably won’t fit. An endearing prospect. Though, one that is entirely avoidable if planned correctly. People seem to forget that Halloween and dressing up is the perfect platform to embrace your creative potential. Don’t get me wrong, costume shops are great for your basic, run-of-the-mill outfit or occasional prop. Though, if you don’t want to spend £40 on an outfit that every man, woman and dog will be wearing, fear not, there is a solution.

Charity shops – a caring, creative alternative

Organisations such as Blue Cross, The British Heart Foundation, and Oxfam just to name a few, provide a phenomenal service by exchanging second hand belongings to aid their respective charities. There are all kinds of weird and wonderful items to be found, and designing your own costume invites you to harness your creative flare for a good cause.
You may gawk at this prospect, and why wouldn’t you? Charity shops? Costumes? Halloween? Is this person claiming that my Mother’s old dress she wore at her work summer party can be callously dumped into the ‘fancy dress’ category?

Yes. In fact, that is exactly what I am claiming.

And no, I don’t mean you should be scouring charity shops for that Batman outfit your uncle once wore in the 70s. If you look around at what actually surrounds you in these shops, there is more than meets the eye.
The first step is to stop seeing outfits for what they appear to be on the surface. For example, if I lead the average man into a charity shop and stood him in front of a woman’s dress, his reaction would follow this sort of structure:

“This, by my excessive knowledge of fashion, appears to be a woman’s dress. Or a possibly a skirt. Actually, it could be a frock. Or a playsuit? …I actually have no idea what this is.”

However, put your creative glasses on and crank up your imagination meter and your analysis will be something like this:

“This appears to be a dress, but wait, no! On closer inspection, it is far more than a dress. I could cut from the bottom up to the middle to resemble a surcoat worn by Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. If I cut off the sleeves I could find an old grey jumper to act as chain-mail.”

I understand your scepticism, wearing women’s clothing may seem slightly unnerving upon first inspection. If that isn’t your style, don’t fear. The options are almost overwhelming, if for example your theme revolves around high society/1920s, these shops are usually blessed with a plethora of suits and retro apparel. If it’s more exotic, like a Hawaiian theme, every man in the 80s at one point owned a flowery shirt or something resembling a palm tree. Even if your desired outfit falls out of these brackets, your creativity is your only boundary when piecing an outfit together.

A purchase for the greater good

Sometimes you do find that items are slightly more expensive than others (not by an extortionate amount, however). On this occasion, you may find yourself digging a little deeper for your desired look. However, considering that your only other costume option is a fancy dress shop, is it not worth spending that bit extra, knowing it will benefit charity? I personally believe it is. Plus, I’m sure the standard Dracula cape, make-up, teeth, and suit will cost anywhere between £15-£50 and is usually made out of cheap plastic. Go out and look for a dashing suit and shirt that you have the potential of wearing again (if your co-workers aren’t bothered with you looking like a contemporary Dracula).

I’m not saying you only have to spend a tenner either. The beauty of shopping in these places is that every single penny you spend goes towards a charity. Think of it this way, if you and your friends host a fancy dress party and invite ten, twenty, thirty or one hundred people and they spent £10 each, you could be giving anywhere from £100-£1,000 to charity.

And you’ll be rocking out in an outfit that believed it’d seen its last day at Edna’s 60th down at the local pub.

Last minute outfit rush? No problem.

This is an idea that works even if you have left it till the last minute. Rummaging through the weird and wonderful selection of rogue, eccentric items to frantically create an outfit is actually immense fun. You can even give yourself a last minute budget of £10 and see what outfit you can concoct with your kitty. I find it far more enjoyable than settling for a £5 plastic stick and a mask depicting you as the Devil.

It’s a sin to even consider that an acceptable costume.

The point is, if you’re feeling a little creative and you fancy donating to charity, why not give this a go? It’s a fun day out and if you’re already the creative kind, you have the potential to construct some pretty abstract and eye-catching costumes. There are also some absolute gems to be found if you know where to look. Only recently I picked out a Ralph Lauren jumper for next to nothing, it is astonishing what you can find in these little establishments. So get out there and start routing around for your desired look. You’d be surprised what kinds of mad, eccentric outfits lurk beneath these second hand hideaways.

Author: Ben Taylor

Eco Warrior! Recycling Buff! Owner of James Waste Management LLP, UK recycling over 90% of waste.

2 thoughts on “Saving A Life With Fancy Dress Shopping”

  1. Nice little idea! Definitely considering doing this for my friend’s 30th, would much rather see my pennies go to charity rather than costume shops!

  2. I always find very good deals all over the year in charity shops and they are so helpful when it’s time for decluttering. I dressed my children for Halloween with funny costumes bought there. 😀

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