Creating Your Own Inexpensive Run-Friendly Costumes
by The Running Stylist
Kristi and Ginger have not quite left the building
With Halloween soon approaching, it’s time to talk costumes!
I LOVE to dress in costume. I don’t think I can stress that enough. As a kid, Halloween was always my favorite holiday, and still is today. The chance to be creative, dress up as whatever you wish, have fun, and best of all – no one looks at you weird. Well, almost no one. To this day I still plan my Halloween costume a month or two in advance. Sometimes I even get my little dog Ginger in on the act, although she isn’t as enthusiastic about it as I am!
When I joined FIT in 2012, I had only run one marathon 8 years prior. I was happy to be back into running and even happier to be in great company, surrounded by amazing positive people. When I heard there was an event called The Halloween Half Marathon, I could barely contain my excitement! My friend Vivian asked if I wanted to run it and I immediately started blurting out costume ideas. I ended up dressing as a referee and Vivian was dressed as a burglar.
Vivian and Kristi at the Halloween Half
Since that race I have been hooked! For me, running combined with dressing in costume was like beer and pizza: they just naturally go together. I soon discovered that there are several race events during which people not only dress in costume, but wearing costumes is actively encouraged!
Attend any Disney race and you will see a large percentage of the runners in a costume of some kind. Then throw in all the holiday 5Ks and races: Memorial Day, 4th of July, Turkey Trot, Christmas…. I was beside myself with the prospect of all these races and all the costume possibilities. But then the reality of cost set in.
Paying for all these events is not cheap. I will splurge on the things that matter, like running shoes, but overall I consider myself a pretty thrifty person. When you are on a budget, you are forced to be creative. Since I don’t know how to sew (yet) to make my own costumes, I pride myself on being able to assemble pretty cool costumes for as little money as possible.
Now I am by no means an expert, nor do I claim to be, but I do love shopping and finding good deals. I’ve got about 14 costumed or themed runs under my water belt and I believe I can offer some practical advice on how to run in costume – inexpensively — to costume-running newcomers and long-timers alike!
Shop your closet
2013 Halloween Half Marathon
Some of the best costumes I’ve come up with use running clothes I already own. Take for example our first Halloween Half costumes. In my running wardrobe I had a black running skirt and black running hat, as well as black calf sleeves. I purchased a referee top (made of wicking material) online for about $13 and pair of white socks with black stripes for under $5. Vivian did even better. She was only out $2 for a mask! Everything else, including the pillowcase, she assembled from her own belongings. In 2013 the FIT group transformed into a swarming mass of bumblebees by applying black masking tape to their yellow FIT shirts and each person added on a few inexpensive bee accessories. Creative, one-of-a-kind, and truly a money-saving measure.BONUS: you want to run in something that is comfortable and won’t chafe. Using clothes you own and wear regularly will ensure your run is much more enjoyable.
Buy new running clothes
Say you have a particular character in mind but you don’t own anything that really illustrates that character. You can shop for running pieces that fit and complement the overall look of character. For example, if you want to dress as Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum, search for a pair of red running shorts or running skirt and yellow tank or shirt. Then add accessories a red cap and large blue bow tie. Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Ross sell name brand running apparel and accessories for closeout bargain prices. I’ve found Nike running skirts for a little as $12.99 and the only thing wrong with them was they were last season’s color. Always, always, always check the clearance rack. Not a fan of going to stores? Check Amazon and eBay and compare prices.
BONUS: Not only will you have the foundation pieces for your costume, but you are purchasing running clothes that you can wear again and again.
Walt Disney World 5K
Accessories make the difference
Sometimes adding just a few small items to an outfit make a difference. Take for example this Princess Costume I wore to the 2014 Disney World 5K. (I’m the one on the left!) I already owned the pink running skirt and matching running top, as well as the white arm warmers which worked as “gloves”. All I bought was a princess crown at Dollar Tree for, you guessed it: $1. I found the white and pink striped socks at Target for $5. Total cost for this costume was under $7, including the garbage bag!
You don’t need to go “all out” especially during longer runs
While we’re all fans of elaborate costumes, we’re still going to be running in these outfits, so sometimes just you’ll need to stick to the basics. With a 5K or 10K, you may be all right with carrying props or wearing a big bulkier costume, but for longer races it’s probably wise to scale back and focus on a few key details of the character — just enough to give the flavor of the character.For the 2014 Disney Marathon I dressed as Snow White. Again, I already owned most of this costume as part of my usual running wardrobe (blue tank top, black running shorts, yellow calf sleeves, red visor, and aforementioned white arm warmers). I purchased a yellow skirt for $25 from Sparkle Athletic and found a head band with red bow attached at Ross for $3. While it would have been nice to craft Snow’s puffy sleeves out of fabric and ribbons and form the large white collar to attach to the back of my tank, I felt it wasn’t necessary and most likely they would of bothered me during the run. This outfit not only resembled Snow White because of the key elements, it was comfortable and easy to run in. Best of all: it was inexpensive too!
Snow White in Epcot
Tutus and sparkly skirts.
Tutus and sparkly skirts are pretty much seen at any race worn by women AND men. Plenty of guys are starting to wear tutus and it’s awesome! The nice thing about these add-on items is they can be easy to run in, come in an array of colors, and can be used over and over again. A single green sparkly skirt can help bring a Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, hula dancer, St. Patrick’s Day, or elf costume to life. These items can be purchased online for anywhere from $10-$35, a small investment for a piece that can be used several times. If you’re crafty it can be even cheaper! Buy your own materials and fabric and make your own with the help of YouTube how-to videos.
2013 Halloween Half Marathon
Not all my costumes have been created using my own clothes. I have run in ready-made costumes from an online costume superstore. For the 2013 Halloween Half Marathon my best running girlfriends and I went as a group of Ladybugs and Bumblebees. These were pre-made costumes, purchased for about $16 each, and proved to be comfortable and quite easy to run in as they were unrestrictive. If you do decide to run in a pre-made costume I recommend you pay attention to the costume itself and determine if it would be ideal for you and the distance you are planning to run. Most pre-made costumes are not made with runner-friendly material. Using Body Glide or Dry Goods is also a good idea to prevent any chaffing. Also, shop around. There are quite a few websites that sell costumes. The same exact ladybug costume I found for about $16 was being sold on other sites for $40 and up. It may take a little time to research different websites, but if it saves money it’s worth it.
Just for the guys.
Dash From The Past 5K
Now some of you reading this are probably thinking – this is great and all but it is written by a woman for women only. NOT TRUE!! Costumes are for guys too!! Think of all the great iconic characters you could easily dress as! Under Armour has come out with a line of workout compression shirts with superhero logos. Add your shorts and BAM! Instant costume. Who wouldn’t want to be Spidey?! All the advice outlined above can apply to men as well, including the tutus!!
My running buddy Matt and I participated in The Dash From the Past 5K, another event that encourages costumes. We went as Daphne and Shaggy from The Scooby-Doo Gang. Matt ordered a pair of brown running shorts and a green running shirt through Amazon and bought a cheapo wig at Party City. He still uses the running gear (although not together) and even re-used the wig at The Color Run! I spent under $18 on that costume as I already had the purple skirt. I found a purple running tank at Marshalls ($9.99), the scarf was on clearance at Target ($2.98) and I found the lavender tights ($3.99) there as well. Scooby lives in my bedroom and was just happy to be outside.
Just have fun with it!
Go crazy, be wild, and enjoy yourself! Need inspiration or ideas to get started? Google the character’s name and the word “costume” or “running costume” afterward.
In my experience I’ve found these guidelines to be helpful, but I have made mistakes along the way. I did a run in my Elvis costume, complete with cape, mic and my blue “suede” running shoes at Weston Run Club for their Halloween run. Even though the costume was a hit, it wasn’t the most enjoyable 3 miles. I learned a lot from that short run about what works for me in a running costume and what doesn’t.
Now I’d like to hear from you! Please share any of your experiences, advice, or photos of your DIY inexpensive costumes in the comments below. Also, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help answer them.
I hope to see all of you dressed up at The Halloween Half Marathon this year! Until then, keep on running with style!