Last Minute Halloween Costumes from Thrift Stores

You probably thought you weren’t going anywhere this Halloween – after all, it’s on a Wednesday this year.  But maybe somebody invited you to a last-minute bash and now you have nothing to wear.

You’re in luck:  thrift stores are perfectfor finding last-minute Halloween costumes.  These DIY costumes are going to be way cooler than any pre-packaged costumes, way more interesting than just another zombie/vampire/cliché costume, and you may be able to repurpose some of the thrifted items into your everyday wardrobe.  To prove it, Lindsey and Natalie hit the thrifts to show how a cute last-minute Halloween outfit can be done – and on a budget!


We’ve been diligently pinning our favorite DIY costumes, spooky decor ideas, and Halloween inspiration on the Destination Thrift “Thrifty Halloween” Pinterest board, and we’ll be updating our Facebook page with more off-the-cuff last minute ideas for thrifty costumes.  Of course, all of our finds are available on the Destination Thrift Flickrpage if you need a closer look (huge thanks to our new co-blogger Lindsey for taking all these pictures and compiling the collages!)

Where’s Waldo?

Striped tees are abundant in thrift stores, and it should be pretty easy to spot a red-and-white combo.  This could potentially also work in your everyday wardrobe.  Find a red-and-white striped tee or sweater, pair with jeans and simple brown shoes, and you’re basically done.  The accessories are what really sell this look:  you’ll need some thick round glasses (Harry Potter style glasses might be repurposed to this end) and of course the matching striped beanie with a red pompom on top.  Bonus points if you find a cane!

halloween costume thrift wheres waldo red stripe shirt

A perfect start to your Where’s Waldo costume: a thrifted striped sweater


You can frequently find a lot of golfing paraphernalia floating around in the thrifts.  Case in point?  In just two stores, we found all of these golf related accessories:

  • Golf shoes (with cleats and everything!)
  • Golf purse
  • Golf clubs
halloween thrift golfer costume

Fore! A golfer costume is a hole-in-one idea for a last minute costume.

(If golf isn’t really your style, try transforming these elements into a tennis-themed outfit with a racket and tennis-themed accessories.)  Get some preppy little plaid Bermuda shorts or a kicky little skirt, pair with a polo and visor, and you’re a lady golf champion.  Fore!

halloween costume golf thrift plaid shorts

Did someone say Bermuda shorts? These thrifted plaid shorts are perfect for a lady golfer costume!

Obnoxious Tourist

Thrift stores frequently have a lot of tourist-y accessories, both from home and abroad.  Score a tee shirt for cheap and use this as the basis for the rest of your outfit.  If you’re not into the super tourist-y shirts, you can also do a great Hawaiian shirt.  You will definitely need a fanny pack for this look, the brighter the better – no exceptions!  Wear shorts and walking shoes if it’s warm enough.  Visors or ballcaps are another great addition to this costume – bonus points if you can match the destination to your shirt.  Maybe you will even find some Mickey Mouse ears and you can pretend you’re a tourist at Disney World.  Pick up some sweet shades while you’re at it.

halloween thrift obnoxious tourist costume

You know you need bird pants in your life.

Tote around a camera and snap pictures of everything– maybe even pick up a disposable camera from the big box store.  (It’s worth it for the nostalgia factor alone!)  Ask other people at the party to take your picture by “landmarks” like the snacks table.  Carry old maps and ask people for directions.  This would be a great family costume, too!


A spin-off of the obnoxious tourist is the ‘Merica costume.  Don’t get us wrong, we love our country – but a fashion case could be made that some people get a little overboard when it comes to patriotic wear.  You could be that person this Halloween!  Load up on all that great ‘Merican goodness in the form of sweatshirts, bags, and flag pins.

halloween thrift 'murica costume

God Bless ‘Merica!

Crazy Cat Lady

This is what I’m going to be!  Challenge yourself to find the ugliest sweater in the store, or the ugliest cat-themed sweater.  Pair it with a floral granny skirt, or kitten-themed pajamas, housecoat and slippers.  Throw your hair up in some big Velcro rollers or powder it with baby powder to age you.  Personally, I’m on the lookout for some giant windshield-sized eyeglasses to really complete my ensemble.  If you really want to go all out, find some stuffed animal cats to tote around with you in a basket with some thrifted yarn balls.

halloween thrift catlady costume

A great cat lady costume is predicated on a great sweater – and maybe a creepy cat statuette.

Lady Who Loves Christmas Too Much

Okay, this costume has a little bit of a back-story, but it was too much fun for me to leave out of this post!  Whenever I go to thrift stores, there is always an overwhelming amount of Christmas stuff – sweaters, decorations, everything.  The bonus to this costume is that you can reuse all this Christmas crap again in a few months (and you knowyou are going to need that ugly sweater for the contest in just a few short weeks!)  Wrap yourself in tinsel.  Wear anything with jingle bells.  Pair your ugly sweater with some festive Christmas-themed pajama pants – you’ll be comfy all night long!

halloween thrift christmaslady costume


How to Get into Character (aka Annoy Everyone at the Party):  If you’re bringing snacks to the party, wrap them in some old wrapping paper or a Christmas-themed gift bag so you can wish the host a “very merry Christmas” when you surrender the treats.  Go around the party trying to decorate with Christmas items; imagine how confused and bewildered the other guests will be when the fake skeletons are all decked out with tinsel or the jack-o-lanterns are filled with colored Christmas lights.  Hum Christmas carols under your breath or remind everyone how many days are left until The Big Day.  The sky is really the limit with Crazy Christmas Lady!


We came up with this idea before the whole hullabaloo with the NFL replacement refs came up, but now that that’sdied down a bit, you might want to give this costume a try.  Find a black-and-white striped tee, pair with black pants or skirt, and find a visor or ball cap.  Pick up a cheap metal whistle at a big box (just for decoration:  don’t use it during the party!) Check out this great dress we found!  Paired with some checkered accessories, it has the perfect sporty vibe.

halloween thrift referee costume

Follow these easy steps to a thrifted referree costume and we don’t think you’ll get the whistle blown on you.


This costume could not be easier:  thrift a plaid flannel shirt, pair with some great boyfriend jeans, and sport some heavy-duty industrial boots or Doc Martens.  Really sell the lumberjack vibe with a great hat with earflaps.  Bonus points for suspenders! Lindsey found a toy chainsaw in the kids’ section – how perfect is this?!  If you don’t get this lucky, try a Halloween accessories store for a plastic/rubber ax.

halloween thrift lumberjack costume

Timber! A thrifted lumberjack costume could not be easier.


Take advantage of the equestrian trend this fall and rock a cowgirl look for Halloween.  Western wear is a perpetual classic:  if it’s your style, these pieces could easily be reused in your everyday style.  Think button-up Western shirts, bandannas, well-worn jeans, cowboy boots and hats.  Carry a coiled rope lasso or a toy horse to really commit to this outfit.  You may be able to find most or all of these items in a thrift store – just put them all together and voila!

halloween costume thrift cowgirl shirt

Option #1 for a Cowgirl Costume

halloween costume thrift cowgirl shirt

Option #2 for a Cowgirl Costume


The 90s are back in a big way for 2012.  What better way to celebrate this decade than emulating Cher from Clueless?  It’s as easy as thrifting a mini-backpack, a preppy plaid schoolgirl skirt, and some Doc Martens.  These are all original 90s and might be considered vintage in a few years!  Bonus points if you can score a giant clunky cell phone.

halloween thrift 90s clueless costume

Totally clueless!

That’s it!

What do you think of our last minute costumes?  What are you planning to be for Halloween this year?  If you thrifted something amazing for your costume this year, let us know in the comments – we’d love to see pictures of your finds!

8 Responses to “Last Minute Halloween Costumes from Thrift Stores”
  1. Ha! Genius costume ideas here. I never would have thought of going to the thrift store.

  2. Maria Pavlenko says:

    I’m so being a crazy cat lady! Thanks for the advice!

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