Thinking theme this Halloween season? Turn to some of the Northwest’s top costume shops to create a character from their catalog of disguises. Whether you’re thinking glam, ghoul or something in between, these denizens of dressup can help you find the costume of your dreams—or if you’re feeling fiendish, your nightmares.
DOOLEY’S // Anchorage, Alaska
This Alaskan boutique has more than 7,000 costumes for rent, plus a wide range of forpurchase items, including popular decade duds (think 1950s, ’70s, ’80s), pirate garb and Renaissance-era costumes. The shop’s rentals are of theater quality. “The costume is going to be almost the same price whether you’re purchasing or renting,” Owner Starla Heim says. “The difference is the quality.”
COSTUME AVENUE // Beaverton, Oregon
This Oregon treasure bills itself as more theatrical rental store than costume shop. It carries more than 9,000 costumes for rent and thousands of items for sale, including makeup, plastic weapons, sunglasses, jewelry, stockings, tights, gloves, wigs and character masks. For pop-culture buffs, Costume Avenue has extensive superhero, Star Wars, Doctor Who and Harry Potter retail sections, as well.
HELEN’S PACIFIC COSTUMERS // Portland, Oregon
Longtime party pro Helen’s Pacific Costumers has been outfitting folks for more than 100 years. Helen’s is stacked floor to ceiling with thousands of looks for rent, and costumes can also be purchased. Bonus: If your company ever needs a mascot, Helen’s has you covered, with one of its custom-built mascots, such as the giant superhero slice of bread it designed and created for a local bakery.
RED LIGHT VINTAGE // Seattle, Washington
A hip vintage vendor with two Seattle locations, Red Light sells preowned pieces from the 1880s to the 1980s, alongside nifty novelty items like gloves, wigs and other finishing touches. Because these are fragile, one-of-a-kind items, everything is for sale rather than for rent.
POINDEXTER’S // Twin Falls, Idaho
Poindexter’s carries more than 1,000 costumes for rent and for sale, ranging from flappers and cowboys to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and SpongeBob SquarePants, plus shoes, clothing, purses, makeup, masks and a full room of wigs. “We carry everything from T-shirts up to full costumes,” says Owner Susan Buhler. “I try to keep this as one-stop-shop as I can.”
WATTS COSTUME RENTALS // Vancouver, British Columbia
This veteran costume gallery has been helping customers play dress-up for almost 80 years and now boasts more than 10,000 costumes for rent, spanning the medieval era to the ’80s, and stitched together by Watts’ resident designer. Plus, you can pick up wigs and trimmings galore!
Tricks of the Trade: Our Experts Share Their Ideas for Making the Most of Your Next Themed Event
The pros at area costume shops can offer more than clothes and accessories. They’ve also got a few pointers on how to make the most of your party motif.
Monica Hall, an associate at Watts Costume Rentals, likes to pull from personality. If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea for a costume, Hall starts with a line of questioning: What did you like as a kid? What are your hobbies now? What’s your favorite movie? “We’re pretty detailed with people,” Hall says. “We just don’t let people an and sort of flounder.”
At Seattle’s Red Light Vintage & Costume, team members are trained to help shoppers pick the perfect ensemble, taking into account everything from what shapes work well for the client to what the weather is like, says Marion Bailey, store manager. If you come in with a theme in mind, like the 1980s, for example, Red Light staffers can help you narrow your focus and find a costume that’s a right fit for you. “Some people want to go ’90s metal. Some people want more Madonna style. Some people want Members Only jackets and bright neon colors,” Bailey says.
As for popular themes this year, 1920s Gatsby-inspired glamour seems to reign supreme. Other favorites include superhero soirees and far-out ’70s fetes, encouraged by the award-winning American Hustle film.
Keep in mind you don’t have to throw a big bash to break out wigs and wands, either Dooley’s owner Starla Heim has noticed a trend of companies incorporating costumes into team-building meetings. “People will have a business meeting and they’ll make it a theme just to inspire their employees,” she says.