Americans' urge to dress up in costumes seems to surge during a tough economy "… especially toward the end of October.
"We like to escape," says Shannon Bates, buyer at Renaissance Rose, a three decades-old Ashland store that sells new and recycled costumes for children and adults. "Halloween gives us an opportunity to turn to flights of fancy."
From nose extenders (Cyrano de Bergerac, anyone?) or an apron-wearing Alice in Wonderland to "Transformers" or a "new classic," 2010 promises to roll out the red carpet for trick-or-treaters of all ages.
Some of this year's costume trends will be influenced by media and pop culture: "Lady Gaga will be big," says Bates. "There is some flair with it."
Here's what else is new — and old and gory and witty and predictable — this year.
Creativity reigns when it comes to cost. Start digging through the closet, the drawers and the thrift shop, pulling promising items. Before long, something will start to take shape.
"So many things work with some imagination," says Bates. "A long, flowy skirt with a corset on top can be Renaissance, pirate, gypsy, princess, fairy. And a man's vintage suit can become Frankenstein's monster, secret agent, gangster, politician."
Adding just a few baubles and accessories is a budget-friendly way to get some extra pop.
"Wigs in all colors, shoes, lingerie, leggings, tights, gloves, belts, scarves, makeup, jewelry, hats, tails, wings, goggles — a lot of the time, it's how you accessorize," says Bates, breathlessly running down the melange of available goodies. "I even have a rubber chicken."
With all the bloodsucking going on in the movies and on television, it's no wonder vampire costumes never die. If you feel like "fanging out" this year, go for subtle — perhaps an everyday, all-black outfit elegantly accented with pointed teeth or two strategically placed bite marks. Accompany with a lustful glint in your eye.
Going to the movies
Is your child "more than meets the eye?" A Transformers costume, available at Magic Man in Medford and Grants Pass, might be the perfect fit.
Han Solo, Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia more up their cinematic street? They're not alone.
" 'Star Wars' is always a good, standby classic, and our 'Clone War' costumes have been moving fast," says store manager Jon Peters, who predicts "Avatar" also will be big.
If the futuristic, extra-tall, blue creatures speak to someone in your household, Magic Man sells a full, blue bodysuit that includes a jacket, pants with attached tail and a mask with ears. Finish it off with some blue makeup on your arms.
Or, says Peters, craft your own avatar. "Get some brown slacks and boots, a black or tan T-shirt, and we have makeup here so you can paint your whole body blue. We also have full, jungle bodysuits."
"If you want a bolt coming out of your forehead, we can show you how to make that happen," says Peters of the staff at Magic Man. Don't forget the "worms, nose extenders and vampire bites — and masks that actually have moving jaws."
We've got Lewis Carroll and Johnny Depp to thank for this year's embrace of "Alice in Wonderland's" madcap characters. Alice, with long blond hair, blue frock and white apron is fairly straightforward to replicate. Mad Hatter hats are available at costume and novelty shops (add black pants, bright waistcoat, floppy foulard, frizzed-out hair and freaked-out makeup). Easter Bunny costumes are a natural foundation for White Rabbit.
Adults feeling a little frisky? Men (and women) can be the authority in a cop outfit (don't forget mirrored sunglasses) while naughty schoolgirls are welcome at any party — just add knee socks and pigtails to a "uniform" of button-up shirt and short skirt.
Pirates just keep getting bigger. "They've been huge for years and years, and every year I think, 'Gosh will ever end?' " asks Bates.
For male pirates, think ruffled shirt, eye patch and a good pirate hat or bandana — maybe a Captain Hook wig.
"Pants are easy," says Peters. "Just get sweats, rub them around in the yard to get some dirt and shred the bottoms. Cut them as short as you want depending on weather."
Use black face makeup with a little stipple sponge to add a beard.
Females, skip the beard and patch and go for gussy.
"Use a long, brown or black skirt or dress that you shred up," suggests Peters. "Some black eyeliner, jewelry, lace, fishnets with a hole ripped in them."
Trick or treat
Whatever costume is chosen, check it for such hazards as loose seams, trailing fabrics and headgear that obstructs vision. Before heading out, go over Halloween safety rules with everyone in the house and, if separating, set a meeting place and time. When driving, watch carefully for pedestrians. When on foot or bike, be extra alert for traffic. And have a haute Halloween! Mwaaa-hahahahahaha "…