The Halloween industry has become just as commercialized – if not more than – Christmas. Costumes usually start in the mid-$60s range, and go up to about $120. This is just my opinion, but spending more than $60 on an outfit I’ll wear at most three days out of the whole year is nothing short of outrageous.
That’s why every year, at least since becoming a broke college student, I basically DIY my outfits, and then manage to find ways to wear it later. And so, the task at hand isn’t so much as deciding which slutty house pet to dress up as, as it is finding stores with crazy-cool digs that I’ll be able to wear out again in public without peacock feathers. The city, thankfully, offers plenty of outrageous sex stores, thrift shops and general crazy holes-in-the-wall for that one-of-a-kind piece to blow those scantily-clad kittens out of the water.
1. Passional Boutique, 704 S. 5th St.
True to Queen Village fashion, Passional is the crazy sex store you giggle about walking into, and then find at least 10 items you could feasibly assimilate into your day-to-day wardrobe. The service is wonderful, too. Two ladies greeted me at the register the moment I walked in, and quickly struck up conversation about what I was looking for, my style and about their products.
Great for: Steel-boned corsets, gowns, unique Halloween costumes and costume accessories
Costume: Anything sexy, dominatrix or in need of latex or leather.
Craziest item for sale: Men’s leather kilt, $442.99
Wish list: Wings of Iris, $79.99. If I ever decide to dance on stage – or just want to be more fab than Beyonce for a day – these will definitely be the first thing I buy.
2. Buffalo Exchange, 1713 Chestnut St.
As frustrated as I often get when I walk into Buffalo Exchange, it’s so worth the hair-pulling and grunting. B.E., aside from the hipster fashions of over-sized flannel-print button downs and knitted beanies, is actually a treasure trove for others’ junk. All it takes is a little time. So the next time you have a few hours to kill, stroll on over to B.E. and sift through the dozens of racks and shoe stands of slightly worn clothing. Amid the sparkles, sequins and outdated 80s dresses with shoulder pads galore, you’re bound to conjure up a pretty kooky costume.
Great for: Relatively inexpensive clothes that you can easily integrate into your wardrobe. Plus, they also sell costumes for at least half the MSRP.
Costume: Most obviously, a hipster. If you’re seeking something more creative (or if you’re hipster yourself): Barbra Streisand circa 1982; Bill Cosby circa the crazy sweater years; Heidi Klum’s Shiva costume
Craziest item for sale: A red sequined, long sleeve, floor-length dress.
Wish list: A felt fedora, grandma jewelry, fall boots.
3. Wilbur, 716 S. 4th St.
Another Queen Village gem, Wilbur is one of my favorite vintage stores. The utterly cluttered interior makes me feel like I’m stepping into a grandma-type’s attic filled with treasures from the last century, each with a story to tell. But it’s not all vintage. Finds include brands such as Frye, Michael Kors and Emilio Pucci. Wilbur is almost like this black hole of all things crazy and eclectic, waiting for an equally crazy person to fall in love. Expect to find fabulous designers at prices that really should be illegal. If you don’t believe me, read the reviews on Yelp.
Great for: One-of-a-kind jewelry & handbags, fur and suede vests and coats.
Costume: Anything, everything. Need a feathered mask? Check. All the fixins for a 50s housewife? Check. Bar wench? Check. Full-body fuzzy cat suit? Most likely check. Beatnik? Definite check.
Craziest item: Well the mannequins scare me the most, but according to Wilbur’s blog, these might take the cake.
Wish list: I hope to one day find a chestnut brown suede fringed vest. So far, no cigar.