A few weeks before Halloween, I saw a coat hanging in a thrift shop. It was a men’s wool overcoat in camel color. It wasn’t really anything special, except if you look at it this way…
I left it there. I didn’t like the price, but I kept thinking about it. Well, my parents wanted to go there today. I went with them. The store might be going out of business. It’s hard to tell. The prices were slashed way way low. I came home with the coat.
Why on earth do I think you care exactly? Well, I’ll tell you. I didn’t buy it so it could be a men’s wool overcoat in camel color. The moment it left the store, it started it’s new life as a frock coat. It just doesn’t know it yet.
Again, why do I think you care?
I’m going to show you how it’s done. Some of my best costume pieces have come out of a thrift shop. I have a few pairs of breeches that get positive comments whenever I wear them. They started life as men’s corduroys. Nobody believes me. My best waistcoats are merely vests, though I love to use my corset in place of a waistcoat.
Budget costuming exists. It works. It looks good. I’m not going to say it’s always historically accurate, but the act of remaking clothing certainly is.
I’m also not saying you will walk into a thrift store and find a Renaissance court gown hiding among the prom dresses. It would be great if you did, but you’re more likely to come across Excalibur among the umbrellas.
You can find a prom dress that was really meant to be a belly dance outfit or fairy costume, though. If you really want that court gown, keep your eyes open for identical bridesmaid dresses. To get enough material for full skirts, you will probably need a few. You can also cruise the used drapes for fabric.
I’ve thought about it for a while and I really want to put together a book that details what I do when I visit a thrift shop looking for costume pieces. I want to show you why I pick the pieces I do. I want to give you directions for what I do with them.
I will call it…
The Second Hand Pirate