Amazon, Spirit Halloween and Party City are brimming with overpriced, polyester costumes fashioned to make you look like any number of characters from popular TV shows and movies. But do you really want to give your hard-earned money to a big box store in exchange for a cheaply made outfit you’ll likely just throw out in a few years?
We suggest you shop local for your Halloween gear. Sure, it will take more time and probably cost you more money than a pre-packaged getup from one of the aforementioned chains, but you’ll feel better, look cooler and have a far more interesting story to tell over cocktails and single-serve Kit Kats.
To help you get started, The Standard worked with four local apparel shops to dream up custom interpretations of several trending costumes. Read on to see how we did it and hopefully get some inspiration of your own.
735 Haight St.
The King of Rock & Roll is a popular costume choice every Halloween. But with Elvis Presley back on the big screen in Baz Luhrmann’s mythmaking biopic, there may be more high-volume pompadours on the streets of the Mission than usual come Oct. 31. Longtime queer-owned costume shop Haight Street Costumes can sell or rent you outfits from just about every era of Elvis.
If you’re taking inspiration from the late ’40s to mid-’50s Elvis, you’ll want to go with something like the pink suits that actor Austin Butler sports in some of the new film’s earlier scenes. You can rent a rosé-hued prom suit ($75 for the week) from Haight Street Costumes and pair it with a Western-style pink shirt for purchase ($49.95), orange aviator sunglasses ($12.95) and a bouffanty Elvis-style wig. If ’70s Elvis is more your vibe, Haight Street Costumes carries a sequined white jumpsuit for rent ($60 to $70 for the week) or for purchase (around $200).
The beauty of an Elvis costume is that it can transcend gender with an option to play up one’s more masculine or feminine sides.
“He was always wearing the tight clothes and showing a lot of skin, and anyone can really do that. So I feel like it's not really gender-specific,” said Haight Street Costumes proprietor AJ Spaziano. “Kind of put your own twist on it, and people will know immediately that it's Elvis.”
1452 Haight St.
Decades of Fashion
1653 Haight St.
If you’re seeking to transform into the Scarlet Witch of WandaVision and the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe, Piedmont Boutique and Decades of Fashion have the crimson accessories you need to pull off the look. Piedmont Boutique has a silky handmade red cape ($48), a bright red bodysuit ($40), knee-high pleather red boots ($120) and elegant evening-length gloves ($24) as well as devil horns ($10), a handmade red-kissed shirt collar ($24) or a triangular-shaped red necklace ($12) that you can repurpose into the Scarlet Witch’s crown-like headdress.
If you want to go glam and vintage with this costume, stop by Decades of Fashion, known for its impressive collection of styles from across the ages, which has a “red devil corset” ($39), leather lace-up black pants from the 1960s ($399) and a full-length vintage red-and-black cape ($79). Finish off the look with a metal thorn and jewels tiara ($39), a 1950s rhinestone necklace ($69), fingerless gloves ($26) and an Odd Fellows red velvet sash ($29).
“We were inspired by the Scarlet Witch’s dramatic red train, and so we re-created it by using a reversible black and red full-length cape that we attached at the waist of the corset,” wrote Decades of Fashion manager Moraea Smith in an email to The Standard. “These items were chosen for the Scarlet Witch look because styled together they create the right silhouette, color scheme and overall vibe of the character.”
1552 Haight St.
You’re encouraged to spread your creative wings at Distractions, which has been serving Haight-Ashbury for around 40 years. The whimsical shop, owned by longtime Haight Street proprietor Jimmy Siegel, caters to the Burning Man and Edwardian Ball crowds and specializes in steampunk-inspired styles that nod to the 19th century, or “nouveau Victorian,” as Siegel calls it.
With the help of stylist and store associate Micah Mayell, The Standard created a couple of looks loosely based on the fantastical creatures that lend their name to the new HBO Game of Thrones spinoff series, House of the Dragon. Drawing on fashion influences from Burning Man, Folsom Street Fair, BDSM and the medieval period, we experimented with a couple of avian-inspired headpieces and leather accessories to transform our model, Misha Zatsman, into a “dragon” and a royal courtier fit for the house of Targaryen. (Check out the pictures in our photo gallery for inspo.)
Mayell, a self-described curator, encourages clientele to get creative when they come into the store. For a House of the Dragon-inspired costume, Mayell recommends selecting pieces with leather, metal studs and feathers that evoke the medieval period. You can suit up with a pair of leather arm guards built for Burning Man ($190 and equipped with handy flashlights for your Halloween prowling) or locally made leather knuckle gloves ($60) for a badass knight or dragon-prince look.
An American-made leather top hat with reptilian eyes ($450) or a horned, feathered or beak-like mask could help you transform into a dragon. Distraction carries several handmade leather headpieces with beaks made by local artisans, such as Vincent Dreamhouse, for the Burn. The trick to the eerie animal look is a pair of black sunglasses ($15) beneath the mask. Add a fringed leather belt ($89) over your shoulders or a feathered cape ($100), and you’ve got “wings.”
Not sure where to start? The staff at Distractions are happy to help bring the look of your imagination to life.
“What we pride ourselves on for 40-some-plus years is being accessible for everyone,” Mayell said. “So if you just want to come in here and get a mask that puts you into a character and that's all you can afford … great. If you want a full-on wardrobe, great. We're here to help. We're hands-on.”
Christina Campodonico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org