The Halloween Costume Chronicles

Oct 19, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Sarah Peterson-Camacho

by Sarah A. Peterson-Camacho

As the air grows crisp and the dying leaves descend like fallen flames, October ushers in a spooky season of Halloween parties, scary movie marathons, and pumpkin spice everything. Thoughts drift like ghosts to seasonal festivities like pumpkin carving, trick or treating, and finding just the right costume.

And when it comes to choosing the perfect Halloween disguise, the vast array of options can be quite intimidating. You may know exactly what you’d like to be, or might have no idea at all, let alone where to begin looking. A seasonal costume store like Spirit Halloween is an obvious place to start the search, with its wide range of ready-made costumes and accessories to suit a variety of styles and tastes. Party City is another popular choice, boasting a plethora of ready-mades and mix-and-match options.

But pre-packaged costumes (ones that include most, if not all, of the accompanying accessories) tend to be pricier than the individual accoutrements, which are usually more cost-effective, to a certain extent. This is why my husband and I decided to take a more DIY approach to our costumes this year. costume

Last year I scoured the after-Halloween sales, and came home with accessories for an epic Lizzie Borden get-up, including a petticoat and rubber hatchet. But foraging the costume wilderness this year for less expensive Victorian-style attire did not prove to be fruitful.

My husband had much better luck. Seeking a cheaper alternative to a store-bought Clark Kent costume, he headed on over to Walmart and found a Superman T-shirt for $7.88, which he will pair with office duds that he already owns.

Walmart and Target are great options for cutting costs when it comes to the great disguise hunt, especially for children’s costumes. My two-year-old daughter became partial to a Batgirl ensemble (her dad’s a DC fan) that set us back only $15 at Walmart. (Both stores offer more reasonably-priced, ready-made kids’ costumes in a variety of styles and sizes that rival their traditional costume store competitors.)

Thrift and vintage stores, like YoshiNow!, Emerald Thrift in downtown Fresno, and Neighborhood Thrift in the Tower District, are also more budget-friendly options to consider, where the thrill of the hunt adds a bit of intrigue as well!

Online marketplaces, such as Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy, are another, often more affordable, costume frontier. Plenty of inspiration is also to be had from the almost infinite number of ensembles to fit an array of sizes, styles, themes, and budgets.

I considered abandoning the whole Lizzie Borden idea altogether, as actual Victorian hatchet lady costumes seem to run in the higher double-digit price range. I seriously thought of the Corpse Bride and Sally from “The Nightmare Before Christmas” as viable alternatives. But then my mother told me to just stop worrying about it, because costume-hunting shouldn’t be a chore. So I did (or tried to), and the right outfit eventually presented itself, but in its own sweet time.

My sister-n-law had given me a coupon for Party City (where I had already looked), so my husband, daughter, and I gave the store a second look one recent weekend, to check out their selection again. And there I found a Victorian steampunk ensemble that finally fit the bill, so I used the coupon, and already have the accessories for a killer steampunk Lizzie Borden.

Whatever costume route you choose, don’t forget to have fun along the way, like I almost did; the journey itself is the ultimate adventure! (And there’s always just raiding the closet or attic for ideas, as I did for my rendition of Harpo Marx freshman year of high school…)

Sarah A. Peterson-Camachois a library assistant with Fresno County Library, with a Bachelor’s in English and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from California State University, Fresno. In her free time, she makes soap and jewelry that she sells at Fresno-area craft fairs. She has written for The Clovis Roundup and the Central California Paranormal Investigators (CCPI) Newsletter.


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