Fancy dress on a shoestring

Ok, so budgeting for a wedding doesn’t leave you with a whole heap of disposable income. But life still goes on. You still have everyday things to pay for. Like food, and days out with friends and fancy dress costumes.

I don’t know about you but I find fancy dress shops to be some of the most overpriced places on the High Street. And Amazon and Ebay aren’t much cheaper either.

But I love dressing up. I love doing it properly and looking undeniably like who you’re meant to be. But nine times out of ten that costs a lot of money. Although, when you have inspirational spaces on the internet like Pinterest, dressing up no longer has to cost the earth.

My niece Sophie was turning 4 and she was having a Disney party. A dress up Disney party. Oli and I needed to look the part. We needed a non clichéd couples costume. We needed something easy and cheap to do. So we turned to Pinterest and discovered the amazingly simple UP costume.

up .png

That’s right, Oli and I dressed up as Russell and Carl from the Disney Pixar animation of UP. I went as the young, enthusiastic explorer and Oli went as the grumpy old man, recently widowed. It was genius. And cheap. And pretty much effortless.


Prior to the party, we headed out to the shops in search of a few things to give our costumes that unmistakable edge. We needed balloons, temporary white hair dye and a yellow baseball cap.

We managed to get a pack of neon balloons from Poundland, whose brightness couldn’t have been more perfect. One thing that we’ve learnt about non helium balloons, on account of our engagement shoot, is that they don’t stand upright in the air. So to achieve that upright balloon look without indulging on expensive helium balloons, we bought two small prefilled helium balloons (a minion and a pink princess crown) from Poundland, for a pound each and took the balloons off (giving them to my neice) and then used the plastic sticks to tie our new neon balloons to.

In total the balloons cost £3 between the two of us, a mere £1.50 each. If we’d been extra clever we could have got some of these balloon sticks from McDonalds for free. Although we may have needed to borrow a child to qualify for a free balloon in the first place.

Next, we went in search of white hair spray to give Oli that aged look. We stumbled across a whole load of colourful temporary hair sprays in Superdrug. One of those colours just so happened to be ‘White Whisper’ and was on sale for £1.99. An absolute bargain.

Locating a yellow baseball cap proved more challenging and the only thing close to what I was after, was a bright yellow Nike golf cap for a grand total of £5. I passed it up and ended up settling on a grey and blue snap back for a meagre 50p in a charity shop. Admittedly it wasn’t yellow but I wasn’t that fussy.

All in all, Oli’s Carl costume came to £3.49, whilst my Russell outfit totalled at £2. We were pretty chuffed. That’s two costumes for just over a fiver. Ideal.

Things you’ll need for Carl:


  • Balloons – either helium filled or the regular air-from-your-lungs-kind, if you go for filling them yourself you’ll need a balloon stick to keep them in the air or something similar to tie them too.
  • Grey or white temporary hair spray – alternatively you could probably use talcum powder or dry shampoo to get a similar look.
  • Chinos or suit trousers
  • Grandad shoes
  • A belt
  • A shirt
  • A tweedy looking jacket/blazer
  • A bow tie
  • Glasses – Oli used his own.
  • A stick – we opted for a skiing pole.

Things you’ll need for Russell:


  • Balloons baby!
  • A cap/hat – I customised mine with some school badges that I’d acquired to make it look more authentic.
  • A neckerchief
  • A sash – this is my very own Brownie sash, with my very own, hard earned badges adorning it.
  • A small rucksack
  • A yellow T-shirt
  • Beige shorts – these are my Dad’s, they’re huge on me but it’s amazing what a belt can do!
  • A belt
  • Converse or hiking boots

And there you have it. Our costumes and effort I might add, recieved a warm reception from the children and adults at the party. It was especially funny when some of the guests, who saw us approaching thought we were the party entertainers. Perhaps that’s a future marital calling for us both.





If you’re lookng for a fun, easy, effective, comfortable, inexpensive costume for a party or soical event, then look no further. UP, UP, UP and away you go!

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