Where I come from, costumes are a big deal. Since being in my teens, I've gone to way more events in costume than I ever did when I was little! My repertoire includes costume birthday parties, a ball, and a few medieval festivals. It's a good thing that I like fashion so much. ;)
In my area, we are blessed to have several consignment stores that have vintage clothing and costumes. I have never had to order a costume off of the internet. Not everyone has the advantage of great local stores, but with a little ingenuity, you can pull together a marvelous outfit for your next dress up event!
This was my costume for a nineteen twenties party. I searched high and low for a drop-waist dress (that wasn't an eighties prom dress), but couldn't find what I was looking for. Enter this lacy black frock. It is more reminiscent of the thirties, but the handkerchief hemline was definitely popular in the twenties.
The dress was from a consignment/costume store and cost around $20, I believe. Besides a new peacock feather for my hair, I already had the other components for my costume in my home. The long "fur" and suede coat was given to my mom a couple of years prior, and has a wonderful twenties feel.
This dress is one of my favorite wardrobe purchases EVER. I originally bought it for a middle ages birthday party, but have worn it since to a medieval festival, medieval history class party. It seems to be a vintage seventies Gunne Sax copy. The sleeves originally had elastic a few inches above the wrist, which Mom took out for me.
I paid somewhere between $20 and $30 for it, but it was worth it. You also have to understand that with my very small build, it's amazing to find anything that fits without alteration! :)
This outfit that I wore to a medieval festival was easy as pie to put together! I wore a maxi skirt and blouse that I had bought at different thrift stores, my mom's belt, a homemade necklace that someone gave me for a graduation gift, and my trusty boots. If you look at the clothes already in your closet with more a little more imagination than usual, you can come up with plenty of costumes!
There's more about this outfit in a past post, so I'll just go over it briefly. My last birthday party had a classic sixties theme. I think that the dress (which I bought on sale at Kohl's) inspired the party more than vise versa. :) My blazer was from a consignment store and my shoes were from a thrift store. If a remember correctly, I only paid a couple of dollars for the oxfords.
A few years ago, I went to a birthday party in which I was to come dressed up as a classic film star. I chose to come as Olivia de Havilland. I wanted to wear her 1930's style, so after some internet and library book research I decided that I needed a ruffled blouse. That's where my favorite consignment store came to the rescue with this watermelon frock. I already had the skirt, shoes and scarf, so it was another outfit that mostly required a reimagining of my wardrobe. My creative mother made the ring.
For our homeschool high school banquet several years ago, my best friend and I decided to go in Georgian era costume. We were avid history scholars and our mothers were seamstresses, so thus our historical gowns were born. The dress is made out of taffeta, so it avoids the cheesy, cheap look that many store bought costumes have.
By now, you have noticed that many of my costumes include elaborate hairstyles. These have required much hairspray, patience, hairspray, help from my mum and hairspray! This is where historical research and online tutorials can be enormously helpful.
So, as you can see, I get to play "dress up" quite often! I have learned that I don't need to spend much money to look good, and that styling my own outfits adds a personal touch. I hope that you have been entertained, and maybe even gained some ideas for your next birthday party. ;)
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." ~Psalm 139:14