The costume industry has ballooned in recent years with the success of Halloween and the year-round popularity of fancy dress parties. While the variety of styles and costumes has increased, the prices have as well—making it harder and harder to have unique fancy dress ideas on a budget. You don’t want to spend £100 on a custom-made costume you’ll only wear once. Here are some ways to be inventive without straining the budget.


 Puns are by far the go-to way to impress the whole party, and can be very low maintenance. Natural gingers might cash in on their hair to go as a “gingerbread man”—a ginger hairdo with a basket of bread. Fans of Hugh Laurie can go as a “Haunted House,” complete with a suit, a cane and dark shadows under the eyes. Go in yellow and white with a devil’s horns to be a “devilled egg,” or try dressing up as a chicken and going as “Party Fowl”—the possibilities are endless!

 Partner up

 Whether it’s a best friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend, planning for a fancy dress party with others is more fun and less pressure. A couple can go as anything from table salt and pepper to Homer and Marge Simpson. You can also raid your wardrobe for nineties gear to go as Charlie’s Angels, the Spice Girls, or N’Sync. Showing up in a duo, trio or larger group also minimises any embarrassment that may arise from over-gelling hair.


 If you can’t think of any puns, you may want to purchase something in particular for the dress party. Onesies are relatively inexpensive and adequately amusing for any fancy dress event. Plus, you’ll be able to wear them to bed during winter months as full-body sleeping bags, and everyone likes clothes that can be worn again and again.

 The revamped little black dress

 French parfumerie Guerlain released their much-anticipated scent “La Petite Robe Noire”—the little black dress—in summer 2012. Debuted by Coco Chanel over eight decades ago, the little black dress has been a go-to style for celebrities and women that has never gone out of fashion.

 Audrey Hepburn famously wore one in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and going to a fancy dress party as Audrey Hepburn is certainly an idea. The pearls, tiara and little black dress can be recycled in any wardrobe for years to come.

 Make, don’t spend, money

 If you’ve accidentally bought clothes you don’t think you’ll wear again, there are more lucrative ways than donating to get rid of them. Services like collect anything from clothes to old-school electronics to DVDs and CDs, and if there’s enough of a haul they’ll even pick it up from your house—meaning you can make back some of the money you spend on your fancy dress.

Melissa Batai

Melissa Batai

Melissa, a mom to three little ones (ages 7, 3 and 1), blogs at both Mom’s Plans where she writes about living a fulfilling life on less and paying down debt, and Fiscal Phoenix where she writes about rising from the ashes of your financial mistakes.