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NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- We know, you totally rocked that Jessica Rabbit costume at your friend’s Halloween party, and snapped more than a few Facebook-worthy photos in your red glitter dress, wig and purple gloves. But come Nov. 1, do you really have to just stuff your costume away in a dusty old trunk until next year?

Doing so seems like quite a waste, considering that Americans tend to shell out a pretty penny on their costumes each year. In fact, the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Halloween Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey estimated that the average person will spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy this year – up from $66.28 in 2010 – amounting to close to $7 billion in total Halloween spending.  

Luckily, there are countless ways to repurpose your costume and its oddest accessories throughout the rest of the year. Here are some clever suggestions.

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Get crafty

With some simple alterations, Halloween accessories can be incorporated into your everyday wardrobe. Cloth belts, bandanas and scarves can be made into headbands, for instance. Depending on the size and material of these items, they can be simply tied around the head or glued to a cheap plastic headband, says fashion designer Krystal Savanella, owner of Krystal Savanella Designs in Ventura, Calif. For extra flair, “the headband can even be embellished with rhinestones, feathers and the like,” she adds.

But it’s not just girls who get to have all the fun: Superhero logos can be cut off and sewn or ironed (using iron-on fusing) onto T-shirts, jackets, backpacks, bags or jean pockets, Savanella suggests.

You can also turn your Halloween accessories into items for your home. Ripped pantyhose, for instance, can be made into sachets that can be placed in drawers or hung on doors. “Just double them up, fill them with potpourri, knot the end and tie with a ribbon,” Savanella says. “Slide a fishnet stocking over the nylon one for a really cool look.”

Quirky accessories can also make for interesting conversation starters. “You can turn a Mad Hatter hat and other Alice in Wonderland accessories into a centerpiece to throw a tea party,” says Stephanie Beadell, public relations specialist for HalloweenCostumes.com.

And if you're a Star Wars or horror flick enthusiast, consider hanging masks on your walls as décor, “though this can get creepy if you live by yourself,” Beadell warns.

For folks who are especially crafty, you can also try re-sewing accessories into useful objects. For instance, vinyl spats that come with many costumes (think gangsters, Three Musketeers and pirates) can be re-sewn into wallets, says Savanella.

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Dress up … again

Halloween isn’t the only opportunity to dress up during the year. If you have a theme party or masquerade ball to attend, consider making a few tweaks to your costume to become an entirely different character.

A vampire cape can easily be re-used for a variety of spooky costumes, says Beadell, including the grim reaper or the Phantom of the Opera. Simply switching out wigs can also give your costume a new twist. “If you were Dorothy for Halloween, just re-use the dress and add a Pippi Longstocking wig and – pow, you’re the Wendy’s girl,” says Beadell. And of course, you can sport any green accessories (think socks, sequined shoes or hats) on St. Patrick’s Day.

If you have little ones, you can add some of your accessories to their toy box so they can play dress up, including bows, magic wands, fake microphones, witches hats and boas. (Just steer clear of sharp objects or anything that children might choke on.)



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Donate it!

Whether it’s that Renaissance princess costume or knight-in-shining-armor getup, consider donating your Halloween costume to a community or school theater group, suggests Beadell. You can also donate items to Goodwill, such as shoes, jackets and shirts. To find your local Goodwill donation center or store, type your ZIP code into the Goodwill locator at http://locator.goodwill.org/.