Last-minute costume: our thrift-store Lady Gaga attempt

by -
Photo by Mark Sullivan Bernal.

Lady Gaga: bizarre fashion, ridiculous lyrics—she’s the most decadent and ludicrous persona of this All Hallows’ Eve season and likely one of the most ubiquitous as well. My goal: to achieve Gaga-dom for a barely-making-rent budget. If you have safety pins and white undies, you’re already halfway there, and the rest can be purchased at thrift shops, fashion discounters and 99-cent stores. Stop on your way home from work, or try the places I visited on a Williamsburg/Bed-Stuy/Fulton Mall pre-Halloween costume blitz:

First stop: Williamsburg Salvation Army (180 Bedford St.).

11 a.m. I was skeptical about a thrift store on hyper-trendy Bedford Avenue,  but I had to compromise for my Manhattan-based shopping partner. Found a child’s hooded, white-fur vest ($3.99). Also grabbed a white tank ($1.99) on my way to the register. Also saw nice slips for less than $2, cute skirts, good belt selection…

2 p.m. Book it over to Broadway and Flushing (subway accessible via the J/G) in Bed-Stuy. Cheap pearls, check! ($1), from a street vendor.

Fat Albert’s (774 Broadway): Stockings on sale outside: two pairs for $1. Inside are great black crochet-y tights ($2). Bras are in abundance; harder to find are white bottoms that aren’t see-through or so tiny that even my shameless self wouldn’t wear them to a party. Finally I decide on  pseudo-boyshorts. I know sizes are for shit in a store like this, so I hold up my purchases to estimate proper S/M/L status. Bra’s good ($4), panties ($2) seem tight so I grab a Large.

Farther down Broadway now. Young Beauty Supplies (797 Broadway)! Rows of disembodied heads, all creepily well-coiffed and mostly $20 to $50. Spot an oddly bargain-priced wig ($9.99). And blond. Sold.

Another jaunt home to ditch the bags, and a quick stop to make sure all the elements work so far. Holy hell, they really shouldn’t call that place Fat Albert’s. Their “L” is an “S” anywhere else. Two bucks down the drain, one more thing to buy.

5:30 p.m. I make tracks for Fulton Mall, but stop first at my favorite Salvation Army (436 Atlantic Ave.) for something sparkly for the gem accents. I leave with a gold-applique dress that’s surprisingly pretty ($5.99, but half-off). Turns out that all Salvation Armies are half-off on Wednesdays.

Once I hit Fulton Ave, I find Pretty Girl (493 Fulton St.): standard-to-nice apparel for okay prices. Sexy lace panties are $2. Still bootless…

Near the Jay Street subway station, I find them. Shoebug (383 Jay St.) is fairly standard—linoleum throughout and three tiny walls lined with samples. Their prices are fine: sandals for $10, boots for $20-30. Mid-length white gogos are $25 but I go for high-cut, plushy pseudo-suede (but gray) boots for ($15). They’ll have to do.

8:30 p.m. To the hardware store for some bleach ($1.29), but it proves ineffective on the synthetic fibers. Damn. Back for some spray-on primer ($4). It works. Sort of.

10:30 p.m. Some applique-snipping on the subway (the perfect time and place for a bit of embroidery). I go with safety pins and save myself the headache of threading a needle and stitching—the costume’s for one night after all, and it only has to survive some rigorous… trick or treating, let’s say.

I encrust the bra over one boob and trail an organic, flowing arrangement up one thigh. Throw everything on, and top it with tons of black eyeliner.

I didn’t do the blood (saving that for tomorrow night) but you can mix some blue laundry detergent with red food coloring for the kind that won’t stain your clothes—or chocolate pudding and red food coloring for the kind that will.

The costume from boots to bra cost me $44.25, and I can wear almost all of it again (though I’ll probably take the safety pins out of the bra.) Time to shake my Paparazzi-worthy keister like it’s covered in blood and dangling from a chain.

436 Atlantic Ave

Related Articles


Ain't no party like a gourd crushing party.


Enjoy some escapist fiction on themes near and terrifying to our straphangin' hearts.


Autumn is upon us, and Halloween fast approaches – here are some of Brooklyn's most fashionably morose boys and ghouls.


Point of fact: Halloween is the best holiday in New York City. Why? First of all, it's the only holiday whose sole adult purpose...


  1. Added bonus: unlike the actual Lady Gaga, a woman in a Lady Gaga Halloween costume is (probably) not batshit insane.

Leave a Reply