Whether you’re prepping for Halloween, New Year, your mate’s ABBA-themed birthday or just another night out at one of London’s many clubs, fancy dress makes everything more fun. Sure, you could pop out and paint the town red in those reliable boots or that signature shirt, but surely things would be heaps better if you were gussied up in Elizabethan garb or flaunting a fabulous flapper dress.
From Jedi weddings to Jane Austen conventions, whatever the reason for finding that perfect costume, we’ve put together a list of the top-notch fancy dress shops in London for all your needs. Choosing your ideal alter-ego will be the only dilemma...
London’s fanciest fancy dress shops
There are five floors of costumes, fancy dress and accessories at Angels. As the undisputed doyenne of fancy dress, they have everything from sequined showgirl outfits to Victorian ghosts, with quality and bespoke rentals starting from as little as £85 (+ vat). If you’re after something cheaper, you can pick up a packet costume for around 30 quid, although they do have a rather desirable Stormtrooper costume that’ll set you back a month’s rent.
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.
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.
While you can just pop into Costume Boutique to browse through their vast range of costumes - which span everything from recreations of famous characters to swashbuckling pirate outfits - your best booking an appointment to find your perfect alter-ego. These are not only free, but there’s no obligation to hire anything during your 45-minute fitting. Just enough time to ensure that you’re dressed to the nines (or like you’re in the 1920s).
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.
It used to be called Charles H Fox, and this is still the place professionals in the film and theatre industries come for make-up, wigs, latex and lashes. 1-2-1 make-up workshops are also on offer for men and women, covering glamour, editorial and avant-garde looks.
With over 30 years experience, this cavernous costumier is home to more than 35,000 costumes. Fear not, however, as staff are on hand to help you navigate through their enormous collection rentals and sale items. What’s more, the staff will also help you with any alterations, sizing, styling and accessorising, ensuring that every inch of your costume is perfect. There are also two further stores in Charing Cross (441a The Strand, WC2N 4HZ) and Gatwick (1 Barns Court Turners Hill Road Crawley Down West Sussex RH10 4HQ)
The best fancy dress experience you’ll find, 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, with costumes created in the National Theatre’s workshops. Better still, the rates are competitive, meaning your fabulous look won’t necessarily break the bank.
Inside this unassuming New Cross establishment, sat next door to the town hall, is a costumier where magic is made. For between £110-150 + vat you can rent an entire costume with personal styling. Their specialty is with handmade couture and no two looks are ever the same. If you’re after something that’s truly outlandish, you can also have something made bespoke. They even offer a fantastical dressing up box for hire for that special party or alternative wedding you’re planning.
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.