As is becoming a She Might Be tradition, around Halloween I raid my wardrobe to try and put together an outfit featuring something that’s in the spirit of the spooky season but isn’t quite full on fancy dress. Please don’t get me wrong… I don’t hate Halloween and I don’t hate fancy dress; I love seeing everyone’s elaborate costumes and make up looks, but I’m just not that great at it myself. So, when I go along to themed parties, I try my best to look the part without the face paint and the faff.
Now we’ve passed Halloween, and we’re racing through November, the busiest party season of the year is approaching and a great many of those parties are likely to be fancy dress. Looking at this outfit, and the one I rustled up last year, I realised that there are some rules I usually stick to when putting together my themed outfits. I agree that rules for dressing in general are bad, we can all wear what we want, but finding decent plus size fancy dress outfits can be such hard work I figured some tips or guidelines to make a costume out of stuff you already have in your wardrobe could be helpful!
So, first of all, lets talk about this outfit! The first piece I grabbed from my wardrobe, and built the rest of the look around, was this boxy striped shirt from Elvi which is giving me some serious Beetlejuice vibes. I love how oversized and slouchy it is, and the contrast of the plain collar and pocket against the stripes is super cute. I tried it with a pencil skirt initially, but I looked a bit like I was off to work (side note: this shirt with a black pencil skirt is an INCREDIBLE office look!). When I swapped the pencil skirt for an a-line number with sheer panels (similar here) I knew the shirt had found it’s match.
My strong matchy-matchy tendencies came out in full force when I coordinated my lipstick to my tights. I love this vampy wine red colour, it’s the perfect choice for a fancy dress costume for this season because it has serious Autumnal vibes going on. Finishing everything off with my stompy t-bar Dr. Marten’s and some statement costume jewellery pulled the whole thing together… and also made it into an outfit that I would be very happy to wear any other day of the year too!
Quick Tips For Fancy Dress Inspired Outfits
- Colour – for Halloween, black is always a great starting point as it’s so versatile, along with rich dark red, purple, orange and bright green. For Christmas, playing with colour gets a little easier – you can’t go wrong with a classic red and green mix, but shimmering gold sequins are also perfect. For New Years it is alllll about the metallics, but even adding some white into the mix can work brilliantly here too.
- Texture – playing about with textures can have such a wonderful effect. Velvet and lace are the most obvious choices for Halloween and Christmas alike; but others like faux fur, rips and tears, raised jacquard prints, ribbed materials and mesh are gorgeous whatever the occasion.
- Patterns – just like the stripes on this Elvi shirt instantly made me think of Beetlejuice, any patchwork clothing could introduce a bit of a ‘Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas’ vibe and a polka dot dress could be used for an old school Lichtenstein character effect. Throw on something like a psychedelic print and you could be straight from the ’60s.
- Accessories – accessories can fall into two camps: either in keeping with the theme of the outfit – you’ll want to reach for the diamanté if you’re going Old Hollywood glam – or just really going to town with some superbly over the top pieces. Wear a hat, dig out your old glasses, finally get some use out of the braces or bow tie that you got for Christmas years ago. Get rifling through your partner’s wardrobe too, there will most likely be some excellent gems in there for your outfit.
- Theme – if the party doesn’t have it’s own theme (often a vague ‘fancy dress’ theme is all you’ll have to go on) picking your own can help narrow your search when raiding your wardrobe; whether it’s a decade, a film, or book you love, it can be easier to pull together an outfit when you already know what kind of characters you’re looking for rather than being overwhelmed by just not knowing where to start.
This year’s Halloween inspired outfit was definitely more low key than the one I did last year but I think I still managed to get into the spirit of things. If – like me – you’ll be shopping your own wardrobe this year for all your fancy dress inspired outfit needs, then I hope these quick tips help to give you a decent starting point and the inspiration to put together something awesome from clothes you already own!