My aunt and uncle have a Halloween store every year for two months. It is a nifty little family owned and operated enterprise. Every year I get to indulge the part of me that really, really enjoys working retail (can’t help it, it’s a sickness, I’m a glutton for punishment).
I really, truly enjoy helping people put together the perfect costume. The 11-year-old kid who came in last year wanting to be Angus Young? You will always be one of my favorites. Another junior high schooler looking to be Slash? I may be able to help with that- Exhibit A
There are some things I need to be honest about, up front, as the spate of annual Halloween topics start rolling out and I will inevitably throw in my two cents.
Sexy Costumes Are Our Bread and Butter
Halloween is not about kids anymore. Sure, the little ones come in and look, change their minds 73 times about what they want to be, and they are tons of fun to work with. However, kids’ costumes are relatively inexpensive, as it makes little sense to spend over $50 on something they will wear once and grow out of before the following year. The sexy costumes, on the other hand, are pricier and typically have many accessories to go along with them. Ca-ching. Do I find sexy Big Bird to be a bit abhorrent? Do I find it tasteless that all of our beloved childhood characters have been turned into tarted-up, polyester nightmares? Of course I do. Are some of the costumes so unflattering that I gently try to steer people towards more substantial offerings (seriously, ladies, white stretchy poly blends look good on very, very few people)? Yes. I have found that my prodding does little in the face of the current desire to have the least amount of clothing on or the most visible nipple-age. While I fully support every person’s right to wear whatever the hell they want, I also strive to help people look awesome.
Halloween is the one night a year that many people feel they can let their freak flags fly, and I say huzzah to them. While I always die a little inside when someone wants me to help them put together the exact look from the package instead of putting their own spin on mass-produced costumes, business is business.
Overly Sexy Costumes For Teens and Tweens
The current trend for sexiness has most definitely trickled down to younger and younger ages. We go out of our way to order the most modest costumes we can, but it is getting harder and harder to find them. Leg Avenue and DreamGirls, the two biggest purveyors of women’s costumes, have recently started selling teen and little girls costumes. While many will refuse them outright based on the adult costumes, most of them are actually pretty cute on. While they tend to be on the short side, I have found that the addition of cheap leggings from Target make them pretty wholesome for the tween and kiddo set.
Parents of teenagers, take note, please – it is not my job to determine what you would or would not find acceptable for your child to wear. I have had way too many mothers allow their 13-year-old daughters to buy what essentially amounts to pasties and sparkly hot pants. Teenagers are rebellious and figuring out their sexuality and the Halloween store is the perfect place to act out those fantastical situations. If your teenager comes in and purchases a costume without you and you are livid with her choice, come back to the store with her and let me know what the situation is, nicely please. We don’t typically do returns, but I would be happy to work something out with you, if you are nice. If you come in screaming at me because I had the gall to sell a costume to a person at a Halloween store and that I should be ashamed of myself for selling said costume to a child, I will not be helpful. Particularly if your daughter had been in multiple times and we actually special ordered that costume for her because she was a mall employee and a nice kid (and over 16, so technically, not a child). Be nice to me, I will be nice to you. Oh, you’d like to speak to the owner? Sure. That’s my aunt and we have dealt with enough mean jerks over the years that we have a special little head nod that indicates she will agree with everything I just told you, so have at it, Hoss.
Some Helpful Tips For Those of Us Who Are Not a Size Zero
We have some people come in with incredibly bangin’ bodies. They look amazing in the Princess Leia Slave Bikini, they rock the skintight white Elvis jumpsuit, and they work those belly dancer costumes like nobody’s business. For the rest of us, a few helpful tips.
1. Stay away from white polyester. As mentioned above, this flatters very few, yet is still the basis for an exceptional amount of costumes. While we at it, try to stay away from 100% polyester as a general rule. Oddly, the 100% poly costumes are rarely cheaper than the more substantial ones, so it really is just a matter of seeking out more substantial fabrics.
2. “Horizontal stripes and a drop waist? Really?” This has become the go-to phrase between my family and I when something just isn’t flattering. One year, my sister was obsessed with a particular sailor girl costume that had the above two qualities, two qualities that, like white poly, look good on a tiny portion of the population.
3. As always, be mindful of Photoshop. I have met a number of the girls on the covers of those costumes over the years, and while they are stunning, they are virtually unrecognizable in person. One of them looks like an Amazonian goddess on the package, but is in actuality an adorable, athletically built 5’4″ little dynamo. So, I can confirm, even the girls on the package don’t actually look like that in the costume.
4. Halloween manufacturers have finally figured out that some people are over a size 8 and have actually started making cute, really cute costumes that reflect that. We pore through catalogs every year and order a TON of awesome costumes in sizes up to a 4x.
5. Over the years, I have noticed a few costumes that seem to look good on most of the people who try them on, even those with wildly different body types. They might help as a jumping-off point in your search for the perfect costume. In no particular order, they are:
I admittedly own a ridiculous number of store bought costumes, but most have never been worn. I always advocate putting something together from scratch, but should you need something easy, your local Halloween store can totally help you out. Also, I am happy to offer any helpful tips if you guys need anything!