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There are two types of people in this world: those who care enough about Halloween to really think through a good costume, and those who don’t. For the latter, that usually means heading to Party City or Spirit Halloween a week before and digging through whatever scraps are left. And really, nothing sucks more than spending $50 on something lame that came out of a plastic bag, is highly flammable, and is allegedly one-size-fits-all.
The alternative, which only requires you to be mildly creative, is to just head to the stores you already shop to pick up a few things that you can cobble into a costume and — who knows! — maybe even wear again. (Or, at the very least, buy alongside some stuff you actually want to meet that free-shipping minimum.)
Here’s a list of those stores, a few recommendations on what to buy from each, and a few more free costume ideas from Racked’s Alanna Okun.
ASOS: There is, of course, a dedicated Halloween section at ASOS, which includes a lot of black dresses and jumpsuits, fishnets, headbands with animal ears, and masquerade masks, plus some cheeky tees for the truly lazy. ASOS is your best move if you’re not really trying to dress up but still want to be a good sport by wearing a bat barrette. You can also pick up an all-black under-layer for whatever your costume actually is, or just wear that and go as a “hot goth.”
Costume idea: Sexy couch at your grandma’s house
American Apparel: It may be under new ownership, but American Apparel is still one of the easiest places to buy things that you can sort of turn into a Halloween costume. Catsuits — in leopard prints, metallics, and solids — are still in heavy rotation, as are an infinite number of leggings. If you need some direction, crib a few ideas from the costume contest page.
Costume idea: Sexy state quarter (could be solo or a group, with everyone accessorizing as the state they’re from).
Forever 21: Since a Halloween costume is something you’re only going to wear one or two times, max, Forever 21 is a no-brainer for buying the kind of crap you’ll want on October 31st but absolutely want to discard by November 1st. There is quite the selection of patent leather, including a few iterations of this mini skirt. Not your speed? Head to the shoe section, where you’ll find stuff like iridescent over-the-knee boots, furry boudoir heels, and rhinestone loafer slides.
Costume idea: Sexy Oscar statue
Modcloth: For vintage clothes that don’t scream “costume” but could also work for a Halloween costume, click on over to Modcloth. The “quirky dresses” category has a bunch of stuff that could work as a great base to any retro-leaning costume (just dig past the cat-print dresses, of which there are many).
Costume idea: Sexy Rainforest Café
Hot Topic: You don’t need to be in middle school or still listen to Green Day to shop at Hot Topic — it is possible to walk in as a grown-ass adult and walk out with something beyond Manic Panic hair dye, promise! Accessories are a smart place to start: There are Harry Potter ties, fangs, Suicide Squad chokers, and, of course, a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas merch. All jokes aside, Hot Topic makes it incredibly easy to “shop by license,” if there’s a particular movie or TV show you’re hoping to emulate.
Costume idea: Sexy Unicorn Frappucino and sexy beleaguered barista (couples costume)