The Best Fancy Dress Shops In London

By Momtaz Begum-Hossain Last edited 9 months ago

Last Updated 11 October 2023

The Best Fancy Dress Shops In London
Fancy dress shops London: A young woman with multicolored haring wearing a black gothic dress amidst rails of similar clothing
Our intrepid author went to play dress-up around town.

Sure, getting dressed-up for Halloween is fun — but what about the other 364 days of the year?

There's no shortage of places to source a costume in the capital. London's best fancy dress shops range from impressive emporiums where you can browse pretty much every character to have ever graced the small and big screen, to modest market stalls where you can stock up on face paints, wigs or masks — and an endless choice of festive fits and themed threads.

A row of rabbit masks
Who knew there was more than one White Rabbit?

Whether you're planning to participate in the annual Santa Run and need a beard and red pyjamas, require a superhero suit for Comic Con, saucy sparkles for Carnival, or an elaborate ensemble for your own birthday party, we've got you covered for where to find your attire of dreams. And yes, these places have ghoulish gear for your Halloween blowout too.

Fancy dress shops in central London

So High Soho

Fancy dress shops London:  A young woman wearing multicoloured robes in a colourful fancy dress shop
"A lot of DJs and performance artists wanted to dress up and that's how So High was born."

Having started as a market stall in Berwick Street 34 years ago — and then becoming a firm fixture in Soho at three different addresses — So High Soho now resides on Peter Street. A homage to their three decades of dedication to supplying the most creative costumes in London, co-founder Anna Boyle gives us a tour of the store while explaining the origins of this much-loved institution: "Specialising in costumes was a natural progression," she says, "We were surrounded by the beautiful fabric shops of Soho and it was the heyday of dance music, raves, garage and house. A lot of DJs and performance artists wanted to dress up and that's how So High was born."

A shoulder piece made from green jewellery
A shimmering shrine embodies the glitz of Notting Hill Carnival.

Music, pop culture and fashion infiltrate the designs. There's a shimmering shrine dedicated to headwear that embodies the glitz of Notting Hill Carnival alongside rails of one-off creations made by cult costumiers. From sequin shirts to corsetry, there's apparel for all budgets.

The store has recently introduced costume hire to encourage a more sustainable way to shop for partywear. Look out for their sister store on Berwick Street specialising in jewellery (also called So High Soho).

Best for: Rarities, custom creations, retro prints and carnivalwear.

So High Soho, 22 Peter Street, W1F 0HS

Mix Max

Fancy dress shops London: An array of fancy dress masks
The pièce de résistance is the wall of masks.

Its central Soho location makes Mix Max a popular spot to grab last-minute novelty accessories for hen and stag dos. We're looking at you, tower of Elton sunnies and rainbow feather boas. There are childhood sweetshop vibes here too, with all manner of pocket money party bag goodies, alongside colourful flower crowns for summer festivals.

The pièce de résistance is the wall of masks. And we’re not just talking Venetian eye masks. The usual slasher movie disguises like Michael Myers and Ghostface are aplenty, but the ones that impressed us the most were the animal masks, especially the furry pig. Oink!   

Best for: Props and accessories, menacing masks and novelty costumes.

Mix Max, 78 Berwick Street, W1F 8TJ

Fancy dress shops in east London

Mad World Fancy Dress Hire

Fancy dress shops London: A woman in a princess dress stands next to the shopkeeper
Just the 35,000 costumes to choose from...

If you can't find it at Mad World does it even exist? With 35,000 costumes on site and counting, visiting here and trying on outfits is a day trip in itself. There's a central warehouse-like store and a smaller pop-up which changes according to the time of year.

At Halloween it houses the largest collection of spooky specific goodies you'll find anywhere in the city. It's open for a month and a half before fright night, then the elves move in for Christmas.

There's a Goodwood Revival section choc-full of vintage tea dresses and an entire zone dedicated to licensed Star Wars clothing. If it's on-trend, it's in-store as general manager Shane explains: "Last year everyone wanted to be Wednesday Addams. It depends what movies are coming out, we can usually predict from that what customers are looking for."

A load of different packets of wigs
If you can't find it at Mad World does it even exist?

Historic costumes are a favourite here and there’s a dedicated team of skilled seamstresses that make bespoke pieces like Medieval costumes. There's also military, celebrity, fairytale…did we mention the 35,000 choices?

Best for: Trending characters, furry heads, weird wigs and dedicated themed pop-ups for major festivities like Halloween and Christmas.

Mad World London City branch: 69-85 Tabernacle Street, EC2A 4BD

North London branch: 205 Kentish Town Road, NW5 2JU

Viking Store

Fancy dress shops London: The Viking Store on Walthamstow High Street
And yes they sell drinking horns.

The does-what-it-says-on-the-tin option. If you're coming here, there's only one thing you're dressing up as: a Viking. This is a popular shop among the LARPing community (that's Live Action Roleplaying, for the uninitiated), where prospective vikings can get kitted out before battle.

Best for: Quintessential drinking merchandise like drinking horns, armour and jewellery.

The Viking Store, 119 Wood Street, Walthamstow, E17 3LL

Fancy dress shops in north London

Also see the Kentish Town branch of Mad World (above).

Cyberdog

Fancy dress shops London: A woman poses in a changing room wearing incredibly fluorescent clothes
If you’re looking for a costume that quite literally stands out, take the trip.

Camden wouldn't be Camden without the rave-themed universe that is Cyberdog — if you've not been inside, you've probably at least heard the booming echoes of dance music blaring out as you walk past. We get it. The neon UV aesthetic can feel intimidating, but inside it feels more like a playground than a prison. Friendly staff are on hand to assist you with navigating the three floors which include extremewear, festival fashion, clubwear and all manner of light-up gear.

Fancy dress shops London: A glow up t shirt showing a 'tube map' or party spots
Light-up gear is a speciality.

The biggest surprise is that there's something for all ages. Cyberdog's children's line starts at 3 months, perfect for raver tots, while an over-18's Future Lover's lounge is stocked with fetish and bondage wear, an epic number of harnesses and luxury lingerie — it's not just PVA and leather either, there's pretty florals too. Or, you could stick to patterned socks or a faux Underground London Party Map top. Either way, if you’re looking for a costume that quite literally stands out, take the trip.

Best for: Streetwear, rave clothing, festival fashion.

Cyberdog, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8AH

Tainted Prince

Fancy dress shops London: Close up of a gothic dress with shocking pink feathers
Been called to the dark side?

Goth wear is not just for Halloween, it’s a lifestyle. Any form of dress-up throws up questions about cultural appropriation and that applies to sub-cultures too. So if you opt for an alternative aesthetic, remember to treat the outfit with respect, explains Kristi at Tainted Prince; "Goths wear these clothes everyday and even weddings. It's also OK for anyone to come and try the styles but remember that they’re more than fancy dress."

If you're feeling called to the dark side, Tainted Prince helps you indulge in your fantasy. From Gothic Victoriana skirts to steampunk waistcoats, the macabre awaits you.

Best for: Theatrical looks, corsets and velvet numbers.

Tainted Prince, Unit 14/7 Stables Market, Camden, NW1 8AH

Fancy dress shops in south London

Prangsta Costumiers

Fancy dress shops London: A headpiece covered in 'jewels'
Like stepping into Narnia.

A wondrous menagerie of oddities and antiques greet you at the secret subterranean land of Prangsta. Unassumingly disguised beside a bed shop in New Cross, entering from the street into this basement costume store is like stepping into Narnia. Mythical creature headdresses styled on vintage dressers are as much pieces of art as they are accessories.

Browse rails of designs that look they're from the sets of Alice in Wonderland and The Great Gatsby. Circus master jackets and capes are gender neutral and as it's only open by appointment there'll be a stylist on hand to help you perfect your look.

Fancy dress shops London: A woman sitting in a multicoloured frock
The founder's classmate was Alexander McQueen.

Founder Melanie Wilson set up her elegant emporium after graduating from Central St Martin’s over 30 years ago, where her classmate was Alexander McQueen.

Every outfit is available to hire. As social media manager Anthony explains, "If you were to buy an item it would cost thousands of pounds because every element is handmade, but some people do, or we can get similar pieces made for them." Thankfully hire won't break the bank with prices starting at £140 for four days.

We spy a rail of glamorous garbs reserved for Mayfair private members' club Annabel's but it's not just high society that sources their outfits here. Celebrities who've worn Prangsta include Kate Moss, Nicole Kidman and Golda Rosheuvel aka Bridgerton's Queen Charlotte. If it's good enough for them…

Best for: Boudoir chic, high-glamour, vintage, historic and upcycled attire.

Prangsta Costumiers, 141 Lewisham Way, New Cross, SE14 6QP

Party and Celebrate

A firm favourite in Clapham, this local institution is a one-stop shop for party planners and partygoers. Whether you're after fake blood and fangs for Halloween, novelty specs or a pirate patch, it's probably here in amongst helium balloons and bunting. What every party shop should be like.

Best for: Family-friendly fits, popular characters, party décor to enhance outfits.

Party and Celebrate,  268-274 Lavender Hill, Clapham Junction, SW11 1LJ

Fancy Dress Town

Fancy dress shops London: Close up on a ringmaster and a 118-118 costume
A treasure trove of quintessential party dress-up, wigs and masks.

A high-street treat, this popular South London costume store is a treasure trove of quintessential party fancy dress outfits, wigs and masks. Think disposable Smiffy's outfits for kids and adults with an extra retro twist — and we don't mean the swinging sixties. Of course you’ll find that too; hippyish prints, Hawaiian garlands, coloured shades…but if you search deep the real treasures will emerge... anyone for a 118 runner costume?

Best for: Blasts from the past, fantasy favourites and creepy costumes.

Fancy Dress Town, 200 Southwark Park Road, Bermondsey, SE16 3RW

Fancy dress shops in west London

Adhoc London

Fancy dress shops London: Model cats wearing fancy dress
Because pets like to dress up too.

Ever wondered where the stars of Made in Chelsea get their glittering partywear? Ceiling-to-floor of quirky, kitsch creations fill this joyful store, but they're not just for humans. Dress-up for dogs is a speciality at Adhoc and we spied superhero and pumpkin outfits for dogs and a cat wearing a tarantula suit. Fun festival wear, light-up hats, hen party essentials and metallic leggings are all part of the stock and there's an invitation to mix and match to create your signature look.

Fancy dress shops London: A woman dressed in a frilly frock and feathery hat
This place is almost too cool to be on King's Road.

We couldn't help but be drawn to a cabinet filled with jewels including snake arm bands that look like they belong to Scary Spice. You can also pick up wigs in every shade of the rainbow, body jewels and make-up. It's almost too cool to be on King's Road.

Best for: pet costumes, light-up accessories, festival fashion, face jewellery.

Adhoc London, 153 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5TZ

Carnival Store

A family-run business since the 1950s, this west London indie shop has added online selling into the mix, while ensuring their Kensington store stays true to its roots. We love their vintage mannequin head and there are two whole floors of costume get-up for every occasion. From show-stopping superhero outfits to prosthetics you didn't know you needed like a fake hairy chest, don’t be surprised if you stay much longer than you intended to.

Best for: Prosthetics, novelty hats and children’s costumes.

Carnival Store, 95 Hammersmith Road, West Kensington W14 0QH

Angels Fancy Dress (online)

While we encourage you to head to a physical store to try on garbs and get styling advice from in-house costume experts, we had to give a special mention to Angels Fancy Dress, The OG of fancy dress shops in London in our round-up. Indeed, they were established in 1890.

Their Covent Garden store was a mecca for makeovers, and though they relocated to Hendon for a brief time, Angels is now online only. That said, you can still visit their HQ and get a glimpse of their eight miles of outfit rails — to see what a million costumes look like at one of their Behind the Seams tours. You'll also get to hear the wardrobe lowdown on iconic film and TV productions like Downtown Abbey and Game of Thrones.

Angels online fancy dress shop has a more modest collection but you'll still find popular guises like morph suits and Roman togas. It was also, so we're told, where the Barnes White Rabbit bought his costume from.

All images by the author/Londonist