London's best fancy dress shops
Stuck for outfit ideas? Dress to impress with our guide to the capital's best costumiers
Halloween or not, social occasions are at least twice as fun when there's fancy dress involved. Cast off your going out uniform and switch it for, say, a 1920s flapper dress. Or perhaps an Elizabethan doublet. In these top-notch fancy dress shops you can give yourself a giant wound, try on terrifying masks, and get involved in full character outfits. Choosing your ideal alter-ego will be the only dilemma...
It would take a real stiff not to get excited about the chance to go through the wardrobe archives of Wear Wimbledon. Over 50,000 costumes made for the big and small screen are available for hire, meaning you can rent a whole host of animal mascots, any kind of service uniform you can imagine or dress up as an arguably less frightening ‘Top Boy’ gangster. There are two floors of vintage women’s and men’s clothes resembling a more orderly Beyond Retro, with items dating back to the 1950s.
- 1 Deer Park Road, SW19 3TL
This vast dungeon of a fancy dress store offers a stellar personal service. Staff help you navigate some 35,000 costumes, from a sleek ant to a fuzzy Orvill duck, and make sure you have a bespoke outfit to take away. Prices start from around £15 for accessories (cloaks, top hats and the like) and full costumes start at £35. Further store in Charing Cross (441 The Strand, WC2N 4HZ).
- 69-85 Tabernacle Street, (entrance in Singer Street), EC2A 4BD
A bespoke costumier in New Cross with a unique made-to-measure service as well as ready-made outfits and staff who can help you put a look together thanks to their styling service. This is the go-to venue for circus styling, and 18th century outfits are their bestsellers, but demand means they’ve increased their 1920s range in recent times.
- 304 New Cross Road, SE14 6AF
Angels is the undisputed doyenne of fancy dress hire for adults and children in the capital. The range – spanning everything from splendid Tudor robes to a sequinned showgirl outfit from Octopussy – and quality are unparalleled. There’s also a selection of packet costumes and cheap superhero costumes for sale starting at £30.99. Outfits for hire from the shop start at £80 plus VAT and include matching accessories, plus £100 deposit.
- 119 Shaftesbury Avenue, WC2H 8AE
Excellent, high-quality costume emporium with a rather impressive catalogue. There’s no cheap party tat here, only expert-made pieces, many of which are inspired by film costumes. Minimum hire £30, full outfits range from £65-£85.
- 159-161 Ball’s Pond Rd, N1 4BG
One of London’s biggest and best second-hand shops and an excellent place to get kitted out for a fancy-dress party, with a mighty selection of cheap garments and accessories from the 1920s to the 1980s.
- 110-112 Cheshire Street, E2 6EJ
This well-known Camden shop has an extensive range of masks and accessories, as well as full character outfits from Harry Potter to Superman. Lazy party-goers can swing by for one of these affordable all-in-one outfits, rather than trying to piece together a bespoke outfit. You can also order from their website to avoid lugging the inevitably enormous packages home on the bus.
- 45-46 Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AJ
Expect a strong selection of off-the-rack costumes and accessories, from fierce fangs to angelic wings, at this west London store. It initially appears small, but its two floors are rammed to the rafters with fancy dress delights and fun party gear.
- 95 Hammersmith Road, W14 0QH
More high-class fancy dress than cheap party shop, any member of the public can can make an appointment at the National Theatre's costume warehouse. Rails are arranged chronologically from dramatic eighteenth-century ball gowns to 1920s flapper dresses for women, and from top hats and tails to Elizabethan ruffs and doublets for men. Enthusiastic staff are on hand to help you build a top-to-toe look (from £120).
- Chichester House, 1-3 Brixton Road, (Kennington Park Business Estate), SW9 6DE
Professional make-up artists seek out Screenface for its high-quality, long-lasting make-up and tools of the trade. Haircare is of a similarly high standard, as are the make-up brushes and other tools. Special effects are big business: fake blood, adhesives and removers, plus all types of facial hair, from handlebar moustaches to mutton chops.
- 48 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9EP
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