London's best shops for fancy dress

It's dress... but fancier.

There is a grand canyon of difference between dressing fancily... and fancy dress. Chicken suits at an Ambassador's Ball are seldom well received. Bunny girl outfits at a christening... even less so.

But there's absolutely a time and a place for Sexy Bank Robber, Sexy Santa's Helper, Sexy Pirate, Sexy Superhero and Mr Blobby.

So if you love to dress up before jumping on the tube for your night out then take a look at our best fancy dress emporiums in and around London...

Angels Fancy Dress
119 Shaftesbury Avenue Covent Garden WC2H 8AE
Region: Covent Garden
Nearest Station: Leicester Square (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: When you shop at Angels for your fancy dress you’re either in the business or you’re pretty big time. Or maybe you’re just willing to pay the price to look like the most excellent person at a costume party; Whatever, this is possibly the best fancy dress shop in town for a look that says original, authentic and expensive.

East End Thrift Store
Unit 1A Assembly Passage Whitechapel E1 4UT
Region: Whitechapel
Nearest Station: Stepney Green (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: Once, most vintage shops could be a part of your hunt for the perfect fancy dress costume. Nowadays though, the vintage threads cost almost as much as buying brand new fashion. Not at the East End Thrift Store though. Sure, some of the garments are pricier than you might want but there are bargains to be had. Plus, the store runs nights at which it aims to clear old and unwanted stock at rock bottom prices. Keep an eye out.

304 New Cross Road New Cross SE14 6AF
Region: New Cross
Nearest Station: New Cross Gate (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Prangsta fancies itself as ‘one big dressing up box’ and although that’s true, there’s a lot of skill hidden within this South London costume shop. Led by designer Melanie Wilson, Prangsta makes customs, rents and sells costumes to the public. With no shortage of celebrity endorsements, you can see why the shop is so popular.

Party Superstores
268-274 Lavender Hill Battersea SW11 1LJ
Region: Battersea
Nearest Station: Clapham Junction (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: Party Superstores have a main location at Clapham Junction. Along with the usual balloons, tableware, decorations, fancy dress and joke items the store sells fireworks all year round, which makes it a hit with us. Also, a proportion of the profits go towards a children’s charity in South East Asia, which makes the feeling you get from finding that perfect Beetlejuice costume that bit more fuzzy and warm.

Costume Studio
Montgomery House 159-161 Balls Pond Road Islington N1 4BG
Region: Islington
Nearest Station: Dalston Kingsland (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: There’s a reason that Costume Studio’s client list includes the likes of the BBC, Sky and Channel Four. It’s because they carry a huge range of impeccable costumes. Simple. All outfits are lent on a hire basis, which means that in return for getting the best (and whitest) astronaut’s suit, you’ll have to steer well clear of the red wine.

  • USERS 10/10
Forbidden Planet
179 Shaftesbury Avenue WC2H 8JR

Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.1 miles)

AIL Says: For all the best in Comic-Con inspired costumes Forbidden Planet is on hand. Think Wonder Woman, Dr. Who, Star Wars and Star Trek. This is the fun side of fancy dress and if you don’t take a little pleasure from a trip to Forbidden Planet then you need to be upping your sci-fi dosage.

Beyond Retro
110-112 Cheshire Street Bethnal Green E2 6EH
Region: Bethnal Green
Nearest Station: Shoreditch

AIL Says: We decided to include Beyond Retro (the Brick Lane branch in particular thanks to its close proximity to an array of other vintage shops) because of the breadth of their clothing collection. If you want to put your own ‘era’ look together then this is the pace to do it on a budget. Think tweed jackets, flapper dresses, wedding lace and headwear – all of which can be worn again.

So High Soho
96 Berwick Street Soho W1F 0QQ
Region: Soho
Nearest Station: Tottenham Court Road (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: Possibly our favourite fancy dress shop in London if only for the madness that is the two weeks leading up to Halloween. You’ll often find a queue waiting for you (around Halloween) but once you’re in, what awaits you is a basement of classic fancy dress and some of the friendliest shop staff this side of heaven. Wigs galore, masks aplenty and all the make-up you’ll ever need.

  • USERS 9/10
Screen Face
20 Powis Terrace Notting Hill W11 1JH
Region: Notting Hill
Nearest Station: Westbourne Park (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: Screen face is all about the real deal type of costume makeup. Sure you’ll find simple fake blood but delve deeper and you’ll notice there are different thicknesses, congealed blood and different depths of tone to choose from. There’s also a range of real stage makeup, fancy dress facial hair and much more.

Oscar's Den
127-129 Abbey Road Hampstead NW6 4SL
Region: Hampstead
Nearest Station: Kilburn High Road (0.2 miles)

AIL Says: If you don’t fancy popping out into central London for the finest in face paint, superhero masks and wigs then stay at home. Oscar’s Den can deliver whatever you choose from their website. Alternatively, visit the store on Abbey Road and recreate a famous Beatles scene.

  • USERS 1/10

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