Spooky, Stylish, Sustainable: Building a Costume Around the Perfect White Shirt

by Karly Rayner

Every Halloween, I have something of a dilemma. How does one get dressed up to the nines in novelty garb while honouring sustainability? I’m certainly not a fun-trampling Scrooge about these things, but it’s always felt wrong to me to fill a basket with disposable items that are barely noticed before being lobbed into the landfill. This is not to say I don’t love, adore and indulge in the fabulous excesses of any celebratory season; my motto, were I to have one, would be "Drink Champagne, Reuse Wrapping Paper." Everything in balance. 

With this in mind, I’ve been considering utilising wardrobe staples as a sustainable centrepiece for a plethora of Halloween costumes - namely, the perfect white shirt. Forget the “LBD” Little Black Dress, it’s the PWS that stands proud and pristine at the centre of any prized capsule collection, promising a multitude of options in its calm acceptance of whatever you should choose to pair with it. 


Image credit: Ndtv

Accessories: An eye-patch, a bandana, fake scars

Open your trusty white shirt as low as you dare, slip on an old, tatty pair of three-quarter-length trousers and loudly enthuse about sailing the seven seas; the pirate costume is a classic for a reason. Sanitised of the worldly realities of eating weevil-infested hard tack on a floating death trap full of unwashed men, a pirating persona is great fun for all ages. This is a good time to know a small child you can borrow a toy cutlass from.


Image credit: What the Eff 

Accessories: Fake blood, white face paint, fake fangs

Pirates and vampires really are the nexus of the frilly shirt brigade, and both hold a similarly flamboyant place in our imaginations. A dabbing of white face paint, a trickle of blood from the corner of the mouth and perhaps some tell-tale puncture wounds drawn onto the neck will instantly set the scene, especially if you slick back your hair. Other classic vampire coiffure options include a full Interview With The Vampire gothic bouffant. 

Mary Poppins

Image credit: Insider 

Accessories: A dickie bow, an umbrella

There’s nothing like the explosive joy of Julie Andrews to help you get into the spirit of a good old knees up, and Mary Poppins sees her at perhaps the pinnacle of her effusive West End ways. You could even pair the costume with a spoon and insist on administering other party-goes a “spoonful of sugar” which inevitably turns out to be tequila. 

Britney Spears 

Image credit: E! News 

Accessories: Grey cardigan, knee socks, pigtails 

A solid option for the Mean Girls vein of costuming - prioritising sexy over spooky - one twist at the bottom of a classic white shirt and everyone will know who you are. This is especially strong at a party that involves some form of karaoke (and every party can involve karaoke if its participants want it to). Warning: If you happen to be a millenial, donning this costume may evoke flashbacks of harrowing quantities of cider & black consumed during a “naughty schoolgirls” party during freshers week.  You have been warned. 

Mia Wallace 

Image credit: Rolling Stone

Accessories: Black trousers, fake blood, your dancing skills 

Mainly consisting of a white shirt and black trousers, Uma Thurman’s Pulp Fiction outfit is possibly the most iconic look one can secure while doing so little. It’s really the attitude that carries this simple get-up; learning the teenage wedding dance gets you lots of points, while pairing it with another party-goer in a quiff and suit upgrades you to a Thurman-Travolta couple’s costume that everybody will recognise. 


Image credit: Vulture 

Accessories: Dickie bow, red & white face paint 

Yes, the doll from Saw has a name, and it’s the rather innocuous-sounding Billy (Jigsaw is the nickname of John Kramer, the perpetrator of the elaborate Saw traps, and yes, this is beginning to sound like a 21st Century version of the know-it-all who lets you know that it’s Frankenstein’s monster, actually…) If you want to go the whole hog, some whole-sclera red contacts, red shoes and a tricycle to creak menacingly into the party on would really set it off, but you can get away with a sharp suit and some spirals drawn onto your cheeks. Have fun putting on the croaky voice and asking other revellers if they want to play a game? 


Cover image: The Telegraph 


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