Affordable Halloween costumes: Leia, Kara Thrace and Arthur Dent

Doing the research so you don’t have to.

The current economic climate means that ‘buying a new outfit’ and ‘going out drinking this month’ have become mutually exclusive events. With this in mind and a mere 4 weeks to go before Halloween, let’s review our top three most cost-effective costumes!

kara thrace costumeBattlestar Galactica Crewmember (Kara Thrace)

Approximate budget cost: £25

First is an homage to the fantastic BSG. The costume comprises boots, pants, a couple of tank-tops and some dog tags. While it’s not the most affordable option, it shouldn’t be overly costly to assemble – provided you go the alternative route, that is.

Starbuck Outfit

1. Dog-tags
I am desperate to get my hands on this pair of Kara Thrace dog-tags  which you can find on eBay for around £12.

Then again, I’m certain a similar effect could be achieved using some cereal-box cardboard and gold paint. I will be attempting to create a cheap version of this costume next month so I’ll let you know how well the gold-paint thing pans out.

2. The double-tank top
The ideal place to get one of the famous BSG double-vests is Anovos. At $64.95 a pop. However, the investment may seem a bit steep. ThinkGeek does a version for $39.99 (Battlestar Tank Top) but again, this isn’t something I can afford this year.

The alternative here is to go for a DIY version of the double-tank, which will work out far, far cheaper. What you’ll need to search out is a steel grey sleeveless t-shirt such as this one from or Fruit of the Loom for the under-layer. Worst case scenario, buy a grey t-shirt, cut the sleeves off and re-hem.

An olive drab racer-back tank top for the outer-layer, more likely than not worn backwards, will be harder to find. There is this fairly accurate Nike Racer Tank top for £18, though this Basic Racerback brings in the cat at £4.99

Tip: these things are easier to find (and are significantly cheaper) in white, so it may be worth getting an olive drab dye from a haberdashery and going from there.

Trousers, shoes and accessories

Starbuck TattooOnce you’ve assembled the double-tank, simply pair it up with an acceptable pair of olive cargo pants (check updates on eBay for these – average price £10) and military-style black boots (again, eBay – average £6 though I’ve seen them go for 99p).

Normally I would suggest an army surplus store for the boots, but if this year has left you, like me, with a draught in your wallet then a round of your local charity shops may well be in order.

Throw in a black belt and you’re done! For the Kara Thrace tattoo simply grab yourself a Sharpie and go crazy on your left arm:

The real trouble with this costume will be trying to convince someone to go as Anders simply to complement your tattoo.

Princess Leia’s White Robe

Approximate cost: £8 (plus belt and, possibly, stockings)

The dress

Ah yes, the classic! Now, for this one you will require a sewing machine and a significant amount of patience. provides a simple Leia dress pattern, suggesting that you use 8 yards of white polyester fabric (prepare to sweat!) which can be bought here for £1/metre.

Princess Leia Hair

There are many useful Leia how-to guides if you want to do your own hair. An alternative to actual hair buns would be to take a couple of pairs of brown tights/stockings, stuff them with whatever is at hand, plait and coil the resulting sausages into buns, pinning them in place or attaching them to a headband.

Now just slap on a belt and you’re done!

Arthur Dent

Cost: negligible

Dressing gown. Towel.

Bonus points for concealing another costume beneath the dressing gown.

Failing the above ideas, you can always just grab a bed sheet and go as a ghost (also a classic).

While bearing in mind all of these affordable and perfectly adequate costume ideas, I am nevertheless saving up to someday land one of these flim-flams from BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs.

Happy economising!

Do you have any other costume suggestions? Comment below with your ideas!

Kate Bystrova

Cambridge-based illustrator and grammar enthusiast, and lover of sci-fi, books and video games. Cat-pamperer extraordinaire.

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