I built a Halloween costume for under £10, here’s how all Notts students can too

A tried and tested way of getting yourself a costume on a budget

Notts students, the best time of year is finally here. It’s better than Christmas, it’s better than birthdays, it’s better than sex: It’s spooky season! A Notts Halloween week is like no other UK uni town. It’s unmatched. Nottingham is renowned for its lively student nightlife as it is, and more often than not the cash pot runs low, which makes building a groovy costume on a budget seem impossible. But I’m here to help, as are the many charity shops across Notts and Beeston and the much-loved costume shop at the back of the Victoria Centre, Luvyababes.

Decide who you are

First things first, who are you? Are you dead bride? Playboy bunny? Pirate? From there, strip your outfit down to the basics. I’m talking layer by layer. Exhibit A: The humble girly pirate. This one can also be transferred to the non-binary and the manly pirate with the addition of trousers or maybe shorts.

Break it down

Base layer – think colour blocking. Despite a probable lack of washing machines on board their ships, pirates always have a crisp white shirt when they set sail. I got mine from White Rose in the town centre, but I’m inclined to believe the oversized white shirt is something you will find anywhere. I chose to roll up the sleeves of mine as that was where it felt most comfortable and it matched the slightly shabby pirate aesthetic. Total cost – £3.00.










The process of stripping your costume down layer by layer is key to building a costume on a budget. Buying the individual elements pieces strategically might not save you time or steps but it will save you money and consequently the environment as you are shopping sustainably. Win win! If pulling random items from various charity shops across the city isn’t your thing, then you’re in luck. In most charity shops this season they have a dedicated Halloween section, with full packaged costumes and accessories available to purchase second hand – therefore saving you the legwork but still giving you the reward of shopping sustainably.

Use what you have or charity shop

In my original debut of the pirate costume, I wore a black corset which I purchased from Luvyababes for £4.99, but I have since adapted this costume to work equally as well with the humble everyday black belt. It still gives the pirate silhouette but has another role in the next layer of our costume. If you do not own a black or brown leather-looking belt, I can almost guarantee that you live with or know someone who definitely will. Total cost – £3.00 (potentially £7.99, if you’re feeling fancy).

Fun fact – that red sash worn around the waist of a pirate costume has a functional purpose when pirate-ing on deck. It was historically worn under a belt to absorb sweat when pirate-ing particularly strenuously. For my look, I used a silky, satin-y red scarf purchased from The British Heart Foundation for £1.50, but a red tea towel, a particularly long bandana, or any strip of red material would suffice. I would suggest securing this on the previously applied belt for best results. Total cost – £4.50.


The trickiest part of this costume is the cherry on top, the hat. The pirate has become an increasingly popular costume since the release of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, so the chances of you finding a pirate hat in one of the previously mentioned Halloween sections of a charity shop are pretty high. However, if all else fails we can rely on the faithful Luvyababes to provide and keep prices low – for example, the hat in my costume here is £2.99 from the staple Nottingham store. Total cost – £7.49. .

I paired mine with the faithful Doc Martens and fishnets, which I already had in my inventory, for a house party. However, if I was tackling Rock City or Ocean, either the classic black clubbing sneakers or even the old faithful crusty white Air Force 1s would work as you’ve built all the character into the costume itself already. I went for a red lip as well to match the sash. A pirate also looks good with a matching red head scarf, but it’s not essential to the look.

Key takeaway

Spooky season has to be fun but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Costumes don’t even have to be spooky these days. Realistically, you could pull a white t-shirt out of any charity shop you like and splash it with red food dye and claim to be a killer, there’s no shame in that. Go the extra mile, pick up a box of cornflakes, and be a “cereal” killer. It’s all do-able for well under £10. Stay safe, stay spooky!

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