Monday, April 23, 2012

Thrifty Acres - Thrift Store Costumes

Hello! As I'm sure many of you know, thrift stores become go-to stores during the month of October as people look for either secondhand Halloween costumes or for secondhand clothes to create their own costumes. 

History lessons at school, however, have provided our daughter with extra dress-up days beyond Halloween. For instance, since 5th grade she has portrayed a 16th C scientist, a 16th C woman artist, Susan B. Anthony, Jane Addams, and more. 

In fact, these history assignments were what opened my eyes to thrift store bargains in the first place: on the hunt to find a older-style garment for the Susan B. Anthony portrayal, I found a suitable dress that was marked $6.00 - with the original price tag of nearly $100.00 still attached. Wow! From then on I was hooked. 

I have always enjoyed clothing history; one of my favorite sections of my family's World Book Encyclopedia when I was a kid was the clothing article with many pages devoted to clothing history and folk dress throughout the world. Thus, when our daughter has to "dress up" for a history lesson, I'm on it. 

The latest project was no exception: several days ago she informed me that she would be portraying Angela Davis for a 1960's-themed "Meeting of the Minds" session in her AP US History class. 

A search of Google images showed that Ms. Davis wore rather conventional clothes, but occasionally she would wear buttons in support of social causes important to her. 

We are able to approximate one of her outfits, paying only $3.50 in all for a home-sewn top and a pair of like-new pants that originally had come from Talbots (wonder what they had cost there?)

Here is what we came up with (I already owned the necklace):

After buying the top, I later came across a sewing pattern for making an identical blouse (at another thrift store, of course!) Said pattern was from 1969, so I was pretty much on target with the look. I would have bought the pattern, but alas, it came in only one, too-small size (sewing patterns didn't use to be multi-sized as they are now).

To replicate one of Ms. Davis' buttons, I searched through Google images to find a button whose message replicated a button she had worn. I settled on the following:

"Free Huey" refers to Huey Newton, one of the founders of the Black Panthers, who'd gotten in trouble with the law. I downsized the button image to fit a campaign button we already had around the house. I thought this re-worked button added an authentic touch.

Every student in the class picked a well-known person from the 1960's to portray in today's "Meeting of the Minds" session. Dress-up was optional, but was worth extra points, so I thought it worth our efforts. Besides, it was fun! 

So there you have it - thrifted clothes come in handy for "dress up" the other 11 months of the year as well.



  1. I had the best costume in the class!

  2. I'm so glad to hear that - it was fun to do!

  3. Thanks so much, Judy - I probably get into it more than our daughter does, lol.

  4. What about her hair? Did she wear a big fro as was the style back then? Now that would be something to see

  5. An Afro wig would have been interesting, but didn't happen to see one during our thrift store jaunts, and might have been considered borderline racist anyway.

  6. Very cool! Especially the reproduction button. Very nice touch!

  7. Thanks! Yeah, I thought that button was a clever touch if I say so myself.