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Guest Post: Living History The Goodwill Way

February 22, 2012


My son Nathan chose Ben Franklin for his third grade living history project. I thought that was a great choice until I realized that “he” (translation: me) would have to put together a costume, which would count for part of the grade.

He tends to stress a little, and I kept assuring him that his mama had the costume covered. He was doing Google searches, showing me pictures, making sure I was on track. “I got this dude — don’t worry,” I told him.

Cut to the Friday before project was due, and there I was at the Cornelius Goodwill, scrambling to find the makings of the perfect Ben Franklin costume.

Thank goodness the living history gods were smiling upon me! My haul included:

Pair of children’s khaki pants $2.49

Men’s tuxedo shirt, $3.99

Women’s 2-piece outfit (shssshhh! Don’t tell!): $7.49

I needed a vest, but came up empty handed in the kids and men’s department, so I looked in women’s, where I found the perfect vest — a mandarin collar, brown paisley number that was paired with a matching skirt. The skirt is destined for my daughter’s dress up pile and the vest fits my 8-year-old wonderfully.

I turned the khakis into Ben-esque bloomers by cutting them off mid-calf, rolling them up and sewing elastic into the cuffs. Same for the oversized shirt — we cut off the sleeves, rolled up and I sewed hair elastics into the cuffs to make the sleeves blousy.

A small throw pillow under a T-shirt gave ol’ Ben his gut, and the colonial mullet is all Party City (we had to improvise again — they were out of old man wigs, so we used a bald cap with a long beard super-glued to the back). A pair of granny glasses also from Party City finished off the retro look.

All told, the outfit cost less than $30, including hair and props. And there’s no way any other Living History participant will look just like my little Ben Franklin!

Thanks Rachel! What about our readers? Anyone used Goodwill finds to create costumes for plays, parties or dress-up?

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