With regard to the costumes there is always an option that isn't that annoying to me. Random colors, you don't get the color you want? buy items to dye them.
You see that in Perfect World International, which is a free-2-play game similar to this one that has lasted many years and may still be going. I think Scarlet Blade could last long if they based it off PWI. PWI though had five races with two classes each though, which gives it lots of variability in story lines. I think it started out with only two races though, but then expanded a lot. It also incorporates a crafting system that encourages farming or the creation of an informal economy with in the game (on top of the auction houses). Most of the largest city in the game is unnavigable since it's so clogged with people selling item mall items (costumes, dyes, mounts, and crafting materials [which can be bought in bulk in the item mall as well as farmed]) and some high level equipment. I've seen this in other games as well, even those that are divided up into factions and separate areas for each (9 Dragons). Please note that these are NOT bots that are selling stuff. They are "player owned shops" that can be set up any where and don't clog up the chat channel. These shops can display items that they want to buy and the price they're willing to buy at.
The thing that all these aspects have in common is that they're part of A NON-COMBAT CENTERED CULTURE in the game. This is always fostered by both players and developers/GMs/GSs. I know that the players have already begun their part of this. The other day on Valkyrie Free Knight side players organized a bike race on the course beneath Bitterstone. If these could be turned into actual events (similar to the battlefields) that are moderated, perhaps categorized by bike speed, and even reward winners with prizes (perhaps bike related items or enhancement stones) they can become a fun minigame. Another minigame that can sprout off this is by offering a viewing of the races (and battlefields for that matter) and allowing bets to be placed.
If it's true that a P2W environment is what drives people away from a game, then all you have to do is push the focus of the game away from PVP. Simple as that. F2P games survive by actually encouraging friendly interaction between (multiple) factions/races and the creation of new characters as PWI has done. You'll also find in such games that PVPing isn't extinguished, but merely pushed to the side.
To sum it up: the whole PVP focus is great and all, but if it leads to a P2W environment then it needs to become a secondary focus for the game. This can be done by creating enticing story lines, regular non-combat player competitions, and PVE events and allowing an informal economy between the factions.