Get inspired to hand-make your own fancy dress costumes using your wardrobe, second-hand shops and eco-accessories!
by Kezia Rice
'Ready-made costumes are about as terrible for the environment as you'd expect from 100% polyester and next-day shipping'
Ever since I can remember, I have LOVED dressing up. Early costume triumphs that I am happy to avoid all photographic evidence of include Tintin, Oor Wullie and one of the Proclaimers. (Yes, obscure and Scottish is a theme). Whilst my homemade efforts may lack recognizability, and consequently see me explaining each element of my outfit to every confused party-goer, they pack a punch in terms of distinctive character. Meanwhile, ready-made costumes often fall short in this department, and they're about as terrible for the environment as you'd expect from 100% polyester and next-day shipping. Next time an occasion for dressing up rolls around, turn to second-hand options and, as the Germans say, zusammenbasteln - throw together - your own costume. Here’s one of my favourite outfits that I am desperate to re-debut as soon as the end of lockdown allows.
The £3 that keeps on giving. Found in a Bristol jumble sale in the king of all pubs, The Crofters Rights, I bought them for no other reason than an inherent gut instinct that they’d come in useful. After their debut at an ABBA night on my 21st birthday (yes, I am 100% a cliché), I now don’t feel content without my angel wings by my side. They were first in my suitcase this January when I was packing up more of my wardrobe to take to my new life in Berlin. Despite lockdown, they’ve had some outings, being inherently more practical for a house party with your flatmates than dancing in the club with a lot less than 2 metres distance between you and your fellow ravers. After years of use and reckless boogying, however, several feathers have fallen off. I intend to add some new feathers before their next outing - and from the photo below, perhaps you could even get an idea of how to make your own?
These jeans are a perfect example of my long-winded shopping process. I started looking for a pair of white wide-leg jeans in September and was so unsuccessful that I was very close to giving up on my aim to purchase mostly second-hand. However, diamonds weren’t made (or found!) in a day, and it wasn’t until December that I eventually made a £30 Depop purchase. Providing me with home-office chic by day, they’re a super versatile purchase, here adding a 70’s super trouper vibe to my disco-angel costume.
'When in doubt, loving, cherishing and caring for the clothes you already own is the most sustainable solution for the planet'
When we planned the photoshoot (read: a fancy dress night with lots of Caipirinhas and regrettable photographic evidence) for this column, I initially wanted to hand-make a top to go with this outfit. However, with fabric and secondhand shops still closed, my options for sourcing material were limited, and I concluded that it was a bit too last minute to add the pressure of a sewing project into the mix. So, here’s my eco-confession: the top I’m wearing in these photos is not second-hand, nor sustainably sourced, and was actually bought from ASOS in a former life. I’m sharing this because when it comes to climate action, we’re all human and on a learning journey. Every small step DOES make a difference and when in doubt, loving, cherishing and caring for the clothes you already own is the most sustainable solution for the planet.
When you’re an angel, glitter is non-negotiable. Unfortunately, the microplastics in glitter are incredibly harmful for the environment and no amount of sparkle can cover up the damaging effects of plastic upon the ocean. It’s a testament to the core make-up of my personality that both my sister and best friend separately gifted me biodegradable glitter for Christmas, so that’s what I’ve used here on my cheekbones and eyelids. Before you make an order, remember that the most sustainable option is always something you already own. Perhaps you have some shimmery makeup that’s too blinding for everyday use? Maybe a shiny birthday card or Christmas decoration is shedding a lot of extra glitter that you could collect? Did I really just advocate shaking a bauble onto your upturned face in the name of eco-make up?! Apply with care onto vaseline or lip balm and enjoy the sparkles.
There you have it, a disco-angel costume fit for every eco king and queen amongst you! I hope that everyone is planning to be as extra as me when it comes to making every night out a fancy dress party. Next time the occasion calls, skip Amazon’s range of soulless polyester and turn to your own wardrobe. I guarantee you’ll have the most character and sparkle of anyone in the room.
Kezia Rice is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of imprint mag. She is happiest watching city sunsets, finding greenery on her runs and swimming everywhere from Lancashire rivers to Berlin lakes or Croatian beaches. She has previously written for imprint about everything from living without a car to the problematics of Love Island to her passion for charity shopping, and her lockdown sewing experiments, part one and two! She also writes poetry: read here and here.