5 Fancy dress outfits for £3 or less

We're sorry, but if you're at uni you're going to have to dress like an idiot from time to time. It's inevitable, but it doesn't have to be expensive...


If three years of university has taught us anything, it’s that students love fancy dress. Wednesday nights at Student Unions nationwide are chock a-block with Smurfs, schoolgirls and sailors – and that’s just to name a few.

It has become an intrinsic part of the daily life of a student, and bringing a cornucopia of costumes with you to uni is a must. However, not only does your bog-standard fancy dress shop leave very little to the imagination, but it hits your purse (or wallet) very hard. Enter studentbeans.com.

Your benevolent saviours in the retail jungle, we've cobbled together five of the best budget fancy dress costumes that you can find for under £3!

1) The Pound Shop (Poundland) – Beautiful *ahem* Fairy Princess Ballerina Superstar

Yes rugby social fans, this one is for you. Pound shops are fantastic for getting those finishing touches to an outfit, whether you need glow sticks (for the standard neon parties of Freshers’ Week), or a dog collar (don’t ask), you can guarantee three items for the paltry total of £3. We’ve chosen a beautiful princess-ballerina ensemble, complete with handbag and jewellery – you just need to add your finest vest top to go out looking like a superstar. Just watch those paps.

Top Tip: Poundland also sell a variety of other items, if you happen to fit into ‘Age 5-6’ clothes.

Handbag: £1

Tutu: £1

Jewellery: £1

Total: £3

2) The Discount Store (Pound Stretcher) – Lifeguard

And then we move onto the humble discount store. It’s not just useful for fancy dress, but for cleaning implements as well as cheap stationery; if you’re lucky enough to have a uni house with a garden it also sports an enviable amount of grotesque garden ornaments, too. However, goggles + snorkel + flip- flops + rubber ring makes a pretty good effort at a lifeguard (albeit the latter implying that you can’t swim). The ring will act as a great pulling technique later on in the night as well.

Top Tip: Snorkels can act as massive straws for maximum alcohol intake.

Goggles and snorkel set: £1

Flip-flops: £0.99

Rubber ring: £1

Total: £2.99

3) The Charity Shop – Hawaiian Man/Woman

You can find a veritable treasure chest of fancy dress paraphernalia in charity shops, and generally for prices that will make your wallet want to give you a big hug. Amongst the selection of XXXL wifebeaters you can normally find something to fashion into a costume. It’s a bit of a lucky dip, but luckily we found a vibrant Hawaiian shirt and a straw hat for under three quid. With the extra money you can get yourself a Mai Tai or two, wondering why nobody is sitting next to you at the bar.

Top Tip: Make yourself a lei from discarded flowers; nothing says ‘classy’ than wilted daffodils stolen from a churchyard.

Hawaiian shirt: £1.75

Straw hat: £1

Total: £2.75

4) The Market Stall – Army Man

An avenue not often chosen by students is the market – perhaps it’s the early starts, or the threatening looking locals, but you can normally pick up a bargain or two if you look hard enough. There are second-hand clothes stalls, haberdasheries, and (our personal favourite) surplus army clothes stalls, for you to peruse. We cheated a bit by sharing material and face paint, but poor students and all that. You’ve got to be creative, and be able to haggle like a boss. We couldn't get a gun within budget, which is a shame, but add some combat trousers to this top half and you’ve got a pretty good looking costume. Unfortunately, it smells as authentic as it looks, so you may want to crack out the Lynx.

Top Tip: Print out an Action Man logo, et voila, you’re Action Man. Well, sort of.

Khaki top: £1.25

Face paint: £0.33 (shared)

Combat material: £0.20 (shared)

Bullets: £1

Total: £2.88

5) The Internet – Sexy Leprechauns etc.

Type ‘cheap fancy dress’ into Google, and there are plenty of places that have excess stock to get rid of. The clearance section of www.joke.co.uk is full to the brim with bargains - we found a rather charming (pun partially intended) Sexy Lucky Leprechaun costume reduced from £49.99 to £3.99! If you get your friends to get one each (assuming you have nine friends), it’s free delivery too. We know this is technically over budget, but with reductions like that you'd be a fool to turn it down.

Top Tip: Don't have a pot of gold? Take all your excess coppers out instead - it's nearly the same. Right?

Sexy Lucky Leprechaun: £3.99 (+p&p)

Total: £3.99 (+p&p)