Halloween Dressing Up Tips

Pulling off a Halloween look with an absolute minimum of dressing up … (2018 Real Halloween)

Timeless tapestry textiles – visitors to The Real Halloween

A bit Mexican

You don’t need to dress up to come to The Real Halloween but if you do, you will be contributing to the event.  Thanks in advance to all who do so!

(You can of course also enter the Real Halloween Fancy Dress Competition )

TOP TIPS for dressing up without plastic – from Sarah Wise at Fairyland Trust

“1. Raid you old wardrobes or the local charity shops.

2. Look for clothes with autumn colours ,  orange, green, browns plus black of course. Add some gold cloth / accessories to jazz things up.

3. Try teaming an old evening dress with some fur and a pair of wellingtons. Its a strong outdoor Halloween look and has been done for years at festivals.

4. A hat is always a good addition – especially fur ones.  Embellish with some pheasant feathers and real leaves  for instant effect.

5. Or you could go for  the popular steam punk look with an old  top hat and goggles, plus a heavy overcoat.

6. Cloaks are easy to make from old curtains- just sew a ribbon along the top edge and you are ready to go.  All good witches and wizards have cloaks.

7. Cut a jagged edge  off old tea shirts/  trousers  for a elf/goblin tunic or even a zombie outfit.

8. Zombie outfits by definition ought to be home made.

9. And  don’t forget that old childhood favourite of sticking a white sheet over your head and painting on some  black ghostly eyes.

10. Think Peaky Blinders crossed with Lord of the Rings and a bit of The Last Showman and you are on the right track”

So how to look? 

Here are some photos from previous Real Halloweens that may give you some inspiration for dressing up without using new shop-bought plastic and assembling your own outfits at home.  It hardly goes without saying but charity shops are great place to build up or supplement your togs. 

In terms of ‘look’ most of these say ‘old and traditional’ and ‘autumn’ or ‘nature’, possibly witch-y or wizard-y or at least, not conventional Twenty-First Century.  We’ve included quite a few of our crew but many of the best are from members of the public visiting the Real Halloween. 

Some achieve their effect from the overall ‘ensemble’ put together with completely normal clothes but just of the right colours and patterns and textures.  Others make use of adornments like feathers, leaves and jewellery or even ‘stuffed animals’ and the odd bone.  Many make good use of hats, from the plain to the slightly insane.

Some are smart, some are ragamuffin (think ‘Victorian’ or Oliver Twist), some are tinker-like and quite a few of the men’s outfits combine white shirts and waistcoats.  Boots, gloves and hand-warmers, scarves, shawls and capes all make an appearance.  By and large being over-dressed is tricky.  Button rather than zips is another tip.  Leather and felt also feel ‘timeless’.   Boots are both practical and fitting to the occasion and often the weather and conditions underfoot.  Another option is the ‘circus’ look, or even sack-cloth (but avoid very itchy hessian).

Bold use of face paint, patterns and a toy fox stole (note white gloves)

Some of these probably are 100% plastic-free whereas quite a few have some old re-used plastic (eg fake fur).  From an environmental point of view, the big gain is to simply not to buy new plastic.   So avoid it altogether or re-use old plastic (even polyester costumes) rather than make the plastic problem worse by buying new, as once created there are huge problems in dealing with plastic (lots put into the ‘recycling’ ends up one way or the other as pollution).  On ‘green’ grounds, aim not to buy any new plastic.  Then the world is your wardrobe.

** Read about our investigation into plastic waste generated from Halloween costumes here: The Scariest Thing About Halloween is Plastic **

Watch our new video on man-dressing for The Real Halloween: Be Like Dave

Some additional ideas:

Felt hat, velvet and fur

Autumnal headband

Hat adornment

Above: more feathers (try pheasant feathers from a butchers), velvet and fur

Heavy knit wool

Embellishment – the “Pieces of Eight” philosophy – whatever that’s decorative which you find lying around

Full fox


use of old umbrella in ‘bat wings’

Above: strategic use of old glasses (note they are just frames).  Useful also for attaching things to, such as feathers.


Above: Medieval look.  In this case mostly old curtains?  Plus scarf and cloth bag. Cabbage optional.

White shirt, flat hat and waistcoat

Above: the ever popular urchin or tinker style: key elements are waistcoats, belts and shirts. Work trousers fit.

Above: classic country tweeds


Acid fur

Above: ensembles

Above: retro modern stylish repurposed, and inspired by … ?

Above: use of ‘animals’ stuffed or otherwise

Above: use of leaves (sweet chestnut, oak and sycamore are good – as is ivy)

Above: circus style

Above: a large throw put to good use

Above: black for witchy

Above: black for wizardy plus a few personal effects. No beard ? Add one.


Above: neck-wear

Above: with face paint

Above: extra hair and fur

Why we avoid new plastic


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