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Last Minute Halloween Costume Shops in London

For those of you on a mad dash to construct a fabulous last minute Halloween costume for that raging, fun fancy dress party you are attending on Friday, with one objective in mind—to win the (presumably alcoholic) prize for having the BEST COSTUME—I am here to help you…and help you fast! (Whew! Relief!)

If you haven’t seen it already, I wrote a blog last week about Halloween costume shops in London (or Fancy Dress shops in London—whichever term you prefer. You see, there is this British girl in my office (a British girl…in my London office… imagine that…) that refuses to celebrate Halloween on the grounds that it is a “poor excuse for American kids to rob our homes of candy.” What a drag! She’s not invited to my party—that’s for sure. British kids, get your fancy dress on and celebrate with your Yankee brethren. I just know how much you love fancy dress!)

Right, so back to helping you score that perfect last minute costume. My blog last week covered a few costume shops in West London, and though I vowed to visit fancy dress shops in East London, I must admit that I never made it past the vaguely Eastern part of Central London… because I got lost on my way to Bethnal Green, like a tourist. But I did manage to visit these shops:

1. Angels, near Tottenham Court Road tube.

Angels, to be quite frank, was my worst nightmare. Their Argos-style catalog/stock room approach is, in my opinion inefficient and irritating. The catalogues are full of misleading images…i.e. heavily-endowed blonde women, sporting next-to-nothing variations of service-industry uniforms and fairytale gowns…and the costumes are cheap, most of them slutty. However, if you are planning to score a costume on your lunch break today, this is one of the few costume shops in central London. You can probably find something in here—as long as you don’t mind not trying on your costume before you buy it.

“No, you cannot try it on, but we give full refunds if it doesn’t fit and you decide to return it,” said the brainwashed saleslady, as I indicated that their last flapper costume (by the way, they are sold out of a lot of costumes, so go in with an open mind!) was not in my size but could possibly fit—I needed to try it on to see. “It’s the same as buying on the internet,” she reassured me.

“This is not the internet, this is a shop.” I reminded her—in case she had, by chance, forgotten. She didn’t like that very much.

Idea: Base your costume around a wig.

Angels had some great fancy dress wigs—I’ll give ‘em that. Everyone loves a crazy wig. In fact, I would say that a wig could quite possibly be the most hilarious, transforming element of a costume. Forget being a specific character…go wig shopping! Grab some bright purple tresses, some face paint to match, an eyeball decal, a horn, and some wings, and voila, you are a ‘one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eater’. (

Or better yet—grab that amazing mullet, and become an 80’s rocker. Trim the mullet down into a homemade ‘Euro mullet’, and…well I’m going to stop here. After all, I don’t want to offend anyone. ;-)

2. Madword, near Old Street tube.

This costume hire facility—if you can manage to find it (it is hidden down a flight of stairs)—is pretty good. The staff were friendly, and (gasp!) they allowed me to try on several costumes. Who would have thought?

Their range of costumes is extensive—you must go in with a specific idea of what you want…and, importantly, a willingness to fork over a nice-sized chunk of cash. You could score a real gem in Madworld, especially if you are after a costume from a certain time period—they offer both the stereotypical (think: ‘Marilyn Monroe’ dress) and more mundane (think: simple sweater and skirt outfit) fancy dress options for almost every era imaginable.

Idea: Pick your favourite era, and try on all of the costumes in the shop section dedicated to that era.

I am guessing that you probably didn’t live in the 1920’s, and I am also pretty sure that not every single female from this era dressed like a flapper when she went out on the town (I speak from personal experience—I tried on several flapper costumes but found some of the other getups in the 1920’s section to be much more interesting).

See what the fancy dress hire shops have in stock for your favourite era, and be creative!

Happy Searching!

Need more Halloween costume ideas? Just ask me – I’m full of them. Seriously, I’ll respond quickly. Carrie Daniel is officially ‘on call’ for all of your Halloween costume inspirational needs until Friday October 31st at 5pm.

Best of luck to you all. May your costumes win you large quantities of cheap booze and/or some hot dates…

London fancy dress/costume shops:

Angels, 119 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8AE

Madworld, 69-85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4BA

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  1. comment by: Santos on Oct 29 at 15:37

    This is a great blog post!!! I wish I had it last year when I desperately looking for a last minute costume. I could not find one I liked so ended up making my own :)

    Great stuff guys, keep posting useful stuff for my free time…

  2. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 29 at 15:51

    Thanks, Santos! What are you going to be this year? Did you get a Halloween costume yet? What costume shop in London did you visit, if any?

  3. comment by: Santos on Oct 29 at 15:58

    I only managed to visit one, the one in Liverpool street. Too commercial for my taste…

  4. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 29 at 16:58

    Probably a good thing that I got lost whilst trying to find it, then!

  5. comment by: James Allen on Oct 29 at 17:22

    Thanks for the recommendation!

    Do you know if they’ll have thick costumes to combat the cold weather we’re about to experience?

  6. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 29 at 19:02

    James – I’ll have you know that it it is supposed to be approximately 10 degrees Celsius on Friday, with (chances of occasional) sunshine (maybe). However, why don’t you layer a nice, think pair of tights and a turtleneck under your costume? That always does the trick for me….

  7. comment by: Danny Grove on Oct 29 at 19:47

    Hi, another great idea for last-minute costumes that I have used in about 6 out of the 6 last Halloweens is just a plastic skull mask and a large dark blanket around your head and body… cherry on the cake, it even keeps you warm if it’s freezing outside. Perfect for a London Dungeons party.
    Danny Grove

  8. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 29 at 21:39

    Danny…that’s a great costume idea! I must say, it’s original and very well suited to London weather! I actually want to dress as a beach tourist – probably not the most practical idea!

  9. comment by: Denise on Oct 29 at 23:38

    Thanks for your info, I will be going to a birthday cum Halloween party on Friday and hope to pick up something interesting at Angels on the way from work.

    Keep up the interesting posts!!!

  10. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 29 at 23:44

    Denise! Do let us know what costume you decide on. :) We like to stay festive here at isango! Will you go for one of the wigs?

  11. comment by: Joerg on Oct 30 at 13:44

    Hi Carrie… Your blog is fabulous, very helpful, thanks for that. I’m a bit lost though. The party I’m going to is on the 19th floor near London bridge and its motto is “tower of terror”… I thought of going as an crazy terrorist, but can I find anything appropriate at the shop near old street? Or do you have any other costume ideas for me? I’m very bad at that and everythings a bit late and I need HELP!

  12. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 30 at 14:02

    Hi Joerg – the shop near old street is mostly hire costumes. They have LOADS of stuff in there, though. Let me think about this one over lunch, and I will get back to you with some ideas…

  13. comment by: Joerg on Oct 30 at 14:06

    WICKED! you’re a star ;)

  14. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 30 at 16:30

    OK Joerg…I must say, I am personally not so keen on the terrorist idea. But, to each his own! I have thus brainstormed some other last minute costume ideas for you…

    I just spoke with a woman at Mad World (Old Street shop), and they are open until 7: 45 tonight! Here are some options:

    1. Grim Reaper – you can hire this costume at 45.50 for one week. It includes a mask, black gown, skeleton gloves and a weapon. Easy, scary, classic, done.

    2. Vampire – You can hire a cape for £15 and then do the rest of the costume yourself. They sell makeup there (and probably teeth as well), and you might be able to source the trousers/shirt yourself? Not the most original costume, I know, but it may be a way to save money.

    Mad World also has horror film characters, ghosts, “Scream” costumes, etc. – all for hire. The lady on the phone was very nice – it is best just to go in and try some things on! If you are keen to hire a costume, that is. Their number: 08007836582.

    Even though I loathed my Angels experience, it might be a good last minute option for you. They have a website – it is too late to order online, so you will have to brave the actual store (listed above). I suggest browsing their website, picking some favourites, ringing them to see if they have what you want, and popping in today. Remember that they will not let you try costumes on in the shop!

    Here is the ‘Devil’ Page from the Angel website:

    If you are in West London, check out another blog that I wrote about fancy dress shops over there:

    A final idea: you could be the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and offer people haircuts with (fake! not sharp!) trimming instruments all night. White streak through black hair, pale makeup, cape.
    Hope this helps! Let me know what you decide on!

    You could also be Sarah Palin – she scares the %&$ out of me! :)

  15. comment by: oli on Oct 31 at 01:03

    This is the best blog yet. I am going to a Costume party tomorrow night and honestly have no idea what to be!? I was going to be one of the jonas brothers but, I ditched that idea. I’m looking for something more mystrious and intriguing. Any ideas? What are you going to be?

  16. comment by: Carrie Daniel on Oct 31 at 01:41

    I’m so glad that you like the blog, Oli! How did you find us?

    Jonas Brothers would be tough to pull off unless you had a group doing it with you…still a tough one.

    Hmm…mysterious and intriguing…what about Austin Powers? You could carry around a little “mini me” doll…or take your little brother out.

    OK, I know, that was so 10 years ago but you could totally resurrect it. The crushed velvet jacket and ruffled shirt – timeless. And, after all, he is the “international man of mystery.” Maybe you could find something in a vintage store?

    Can you do any accents? Eastern European? Russian? American? (I am assuming you are British) Just be an x spy and use it as an opportunity to speak in accent all night whilst hiding in corners in your trench coat and spy hat. Bring cigars. You could call yourself “Mr. O” or “Morpheus.”

    Lastly, if you wanted to be completely zany, you could be a gypsy tarot card reader or palm reader – hold girls’ hands all night – tell them their destinies, etc.. Flouncy silky or linen pants, linen shirt, possible headdress, deck of tarot cards.

    Hope some of that helps!

    I am going to be a beach tourist: tropical shirt, black cotton skirt, flip flips, visor and a waist pouch or “bum bag,” as you Brits call it (we have another name for them, which I will not write here!)

    Well….HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Good luck!

  17. comment by: oli on Nov 01 at 20:03

    Thanks Carrie! I dressed up as james bond…I wasnt quite as good looking and suave as 007 but it was fun nonetheless. A beach tourist…Creative!

  18. comment by: Rob Katz on Oct 23 at 14:46

    I've always liked going to Escapade in Camden. The queue can be pretty long if you go on the morning of something like Halloween but with a bit of planning it's almost always got the best choice and options. Seen this competition on FB for £50 free Escapade too which is running this week so worth checking out in case, you never know!

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