In college theatre, a common method for costuming a cast is to find
people who will donate or loan pieces of the various costumes. It is
common to find experienced cast members who have acquired various
costume pieces over their years in the theatre, and many are willing to
lend items for the sake of the production. Local theatres also
often have useful costume elements that they may be willing to lend out.
Borrowing is an excellent way to save money, but extra care must be
taken to make sure the borrowed materials are treated well and
returned to their owner at the end of the production.
In the event that pieces can't be obtained in this manner and the
costume designer has a budget to work with, many useful costume
elements can be purchased. A variety of common stores sell items
which can be used as costume elements. Clothing stores at malls,
army/navy stores, thrift stores, and the Salvation Army are all places
that should be checked if pre-made items are being purchased for costuming.
Often something that is purchased serves only as a starting point for
a costume element. The costume piece may need further modification,
if deemed by the costume designer. Even if modification is necessary,
it saves time and effort to modify something pre-made rather than
make the whole piece from scratch.