There’s nothing quite like the panic and excitement you feel when the dress code reads “fancy dress”. Think of the opportunities! The laughs! The potential disasters! Do you couple dress? Should you go as something topical? Or stick to old faithful witch, slutty policewoman and Headless Zombie #3 ensembles?
We say go the extra mile and put in that little extra effort to make you the talking point of the party. In our eyes, when the invitation says fancy dress you either go all out or go home. So whether you’re feeling heroic, gory or going for a heavy dose of irony, we’ve got your go-to list of Sydney’s best costume shops (along with a few added gems for when you're reeeeeaaaally in #struggletown).
Snog The Frog
With over 9,000 pieces in their collection, the team at Snog The Frog have all your wonderful and wacky costume ideas covered. Conveniently located in Surry Hills, Team Snog as they like to call themselves, not only help you style your dream costume but also offer costume design and make-up services—so there’s no need to fret about perfect blood splatter placement. Some of our favourites include the Andy Warhol costume (add a can of Campbell’s soup for that final flourish) or for your next 90s gathering, swap the double denim for the original avatar: Captain Planet. Can’t make it to the shop in person? No matter, this costume shop delivers Australia wide, so check out the range online.
The Costume Shop
With a long history of supplying costumes to the film and theatre industry, this Waterloo costume shop is your key to winning best-dressed every time. A little unsure of what look you’re going for? The guys at The Costume Shop let you loose amongst their incredible costume collection, so get inspired and feel free to get advice on accessories, hair and make-up from the staff on hand. For a bit of a pop culture hit, perhaps Breaking Bad’s Walter White would be ideal for you or for those celebrating Oktoberfest, they’ve got lederhosen-galore. We recommend booking your costume ahead, particularly around Halloween and weekends.
Dazzling Fancy Dress Costume Hire
For outfits guaranteed to impress, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Dazzling Fancy Dress Costume Hire. They’ve got all your party themes covered from decade throwbacks to out of Africa soirees, it’s all here at this Yagoona costume paradise. Catering for a variety of sizes and offering an alteration service where possible, these costume gurus are determined to make you the star of the night.
ABC Costume Hire
The ABC Costume Hire is no joke. With over 45,000 pieces they’ve got perhaps the most meticulously curated collection of authentic costumes in Sydney. Often hiring to TV, film and stage productions, they’ve got an extensive range of historical pieces as well your more contemporary choices. Show of your Aussie spirit in a Ned Kelly get-up or pick out the show-stopping Queen Victoria ensemble if extravagance is more your style. If you’re a little stuck on costume ideas, then check out the list on their website before heading to this Artarmon costume haven.
For over two decades, The Wardrobe has provided Sydneysiders with top-notch costumes, wigs, props and accessories for Halloween and beyond. Specialising in one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, the friendly staff will happily style your entire outfit from head-to-toe, to ensure you look fabulous this All Hallows Eve.
North Shore Costumes
As of November 2015, this North Sydney costume go-to will be closing its doors, so make the most of the famed Ripper Rita and her team before they retire from professional costuming. Got an around the world party on your calendar? Well then these guys have got a whole host of cultural costumes for you to choose from. From the historic to TV and film, North Shore Costumes have been helping northsiders with their fancy dress dilemmas for 43 years. If you’re wanting to make a permanent investment, be sure to keep an eye on their site as a lot of their pieces will be going up for sale.
Fancy That Costumes
Beginning with a collection of not-so-forgiving lycra ensembles from 80’s gameshow, It’s a Knockout!, this Crows Nest costume house has certainly developed into a treasure trove of fancy dress dreams. Covering all the major themes and some maybe a little more left-of-centre (think Steampunk) all your costume imaginings can come true at Fancy That Costumes (they even dressed Jackie-O as Jabba the Hut). Many of the staff are also performers so they can help you get into character too. What’s even better is that your costume can be delivered and returned by courier, which makes the whole process fuss free.
Sydney Costume Shop
Based in the Southern Shire, Sydney Costume Shop have been supplying Sydneysiders with affordable costumes for over 30 years. Sourcing their pieces within Australia and overseas, they’ve got a vast range for you to choose from. However, if you’re looking for something a little more bespoke, the guys behind this Engadine costume shop are costume designers themselves and can create the perfect outfit styled by you.
House of Priscilla
Experts in all things glitz and glam, House of Priscilla claims an incredible choice of showgirl, burlesque and drag outfits, along with some great scary stuff for Halloween. Award-winning designer Anthony Defina is on-hand and in-store to help you create the perfect costume. Also, be sure to check out House of Priscilla's amazing range of masquerade accessories
For the time-poor and victims of last-minute costume emergencies, Costume Box is your go-to. Offering a speeding four-hour delivery service for those in Sydney and free next day delivery if you spend over $75, fancy dress has never been so easy. Not only do they cover all the adult or kiddie costumes you could ever think up, but they’ve also got the option of dressing your pets up to the nines as well (there’s a Madonna cone bra option that delivers just the right amount of sass for your pooch). Hosting your own costume shindig? Well then be sure to check out their selection of party supplies as well.
Specialising in quality costumes that don’t cost a fortune, this is the place to gear-up for your next fancy dress gathering without breaking the bank. Remember what you wanted to to be when you grew up? Be it fireman, pirate or fairy, Heaven Costumes have all your occupations sorted with a slightly bloodier twist. Offering a range of shipping options, whether you’re planning ahead or need an overnighter, Heaven Costumes can solve any costume dilemma.
Originality is the No. 1 concern for any fancy dress invitee. That’s where Costume Crazy comes in. As the gatekeepers to one of Australia’s largest collections of costumes, you don’t have to waste one more wink of sleep over whether you’ll be one of five Wonder Womans at the same party. Always on the look out for new pieces to add, it’d be worth checking out their range online if what you’re envisioning is a little more current. From regular bestsellers like Star Wars to the more quirky concepts such as Peas in a Pod, they’ve got a costume for any season and any occasion.
C’s Flash Back
Describing themselves as the Robin Hoods of the vintage game, C’s Flashback collects some of the best vintage pieces from around the world and brings them back to Sydney. While not a costume store per se, if you’ve got a decade inspired get-together on the cards, then rummaging through the racks this Newtown favourite may prove to be your ticket to original (and affordable) costume mastery. With racks of tweed jackets, denim for days and a host of flamboyant Hawaiian shirts, bring your stylist’s eye and leave the store with a gem of an outfit.
Vintage wear isn’t just for the street. From Space Jam jumpers to 60s minis, recycle these previously loved garments for your next fancy dress endeavour. Grab some affordable style points at U-Turn in Surry Hills with the added bonus that these are one of a kind pieces, so there’s no chance of any nasty costume copy cats ruining your night. If you’re going for an American Hustle vibe, then pick yourself up one of the fur coats or if Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is more your style, then any of their vintage kicks will certainly get you on the right track.
Perhaps not an obvious choice, American Apparel is a great option if you need to form a good costume base with some basics. Going for a 60s look? Well then pair their A-line mini with a turtleneck top. If 90s is what’s on your mind, then top the outfit off with some classic jelly flats. And the guys can shop here too—consider going for a varsity style jacket for any American-themed bash (Friday Night Lights, anyone?). The great thing about buying your costume goodies at this Sydney store is that you can add these pieces to your day-to-day wardrobe rather than creating a stockpile of crazy hats in the corner of your bedroom.
For a trip to the 70s and 80s all you need to do is take one step into vintage store, Zoo Emporium. With one whole floor dedicated to sale items, costume parties don’t have to be a burden on your wallet. Devoting two floors to retro fashion, expect to find flamboyant prints, vintage handbags, great costume jewellery and much, much more at this Surry Hills emporium.
Jester Fancy Dress
For everything from the usual base costumes neatly categorised, to the seemingly uncategorisable (we're looking at you, cactus), Jester Fancy Dress is your go-to when you want to look like you definitely put in some effort, but you don't have time to comb through the racks indecisively (and you can do it from the couch). There are also plenty of accessories to give your off-the-rack an off-the-wall flavour!
Need a cake to bring to your party? Check out The Best Cake Shops In Sydney.
Image credit: Big Little Lies