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14 Secrets Halloween Costume Designers Want You to Know

Choosing a Halloween costume can feel like a hugely important decision to many children and adults, so we turned to costume designers and industry experts for their tips on how to come up with the perfect costume.

Halloween shopping starts early

It may seem ridiculously early to many shoppers, but there’s a good reason why stores begin to stock Halloween products over the summer. According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Annual Halloween Spending Survey, more than a third of consumers start their Halloween shopping in September or earlier. Nearly 40 percent make their candy and costume purchases during the first two weeks of October, and the remaining 20 percent shop in the two weeks leading up to October 31. If you’re on a budget, try making one of these cheap Halloween costumes for kids that you can totally DIY.

More millennials are getting into character

As social media use has increased, so has the pressure for Generation Y to wow their followers with clever or creative Halloween costumes. That’s one reason why millennials are the most likely of all adult generations to participate in Halloween, and it helps to explain why they spend more on their costumes, too. A 2016 survey showed that Gen Y spends an average of $42.39 on Halloween costumes compared with $31.03 for all adults.

Don’t forget about your pet

If you’ve purchased a costume for your cat or dog, count yourself among the 20 percent of consumers who plan to dress up their pet. “One of the biggest trends this year is the growth of spending on pet costumes,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted NRF’s survey. “Out of the 31.3 million Americans planning to dress their pets in costumes, millennials are most likely to dress up their pets, the highest we have seen in the history of our surveys.” We think these are some of the best Halloween costumes for dogs.

Inspiration comes from many places

Inspiration for the perfect costume can come from anywhere, but the three most common sources are online searches, retail stores, and friends and family, according to the NRF. Unsurprisingly, women (25 percent) are more likely than men (11 percent) to use Pinterest to research ideas, but men (18 percent) are more likely than women (11 percent) to use YouTube. For more inspiration, check out these vintage Halloween costumes that could still be worn today.

Top costumes for kids

Remember that Halloween when you couldn’t turn a corner without bumping into a pint-size Elsa or Anna? You’re only slightly less likely this year to run into a sister from Frozen; they’re 10th on the list of top Halloween costumes for children. So what will be the most popular? According to the NRF, most kids are planning to dress as their favorite princess characters. In the number two spot is a superhero, followed by Batman at number three.

What adults want to wear

While superhero and Batman made the list of NRF’s top 10 adult Halloween costumes (numbers nine and six, respectively), princess didn’t make the cut. Instead, witch is ranked number one, followed by vampire and zombie, suggesting that grown-ups appear to prefer scary over sparkly. Trick-or-treating with kids? Here are the best Halloween costumes for families.

Dress in-the-moment

Pop culture continues to grow in popularity as a source of Halloween inspiration, especially for the social media-savvy set. More than a third of younger Millennials and older Generation Zers will cull their costumes from the year’s most talked about books, movies, or TV shows. This year you’re likely to spy a Black Panther character, a tutu-wearing Serena Williams, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, and some red-cloaked Handmaids strolling your neighborhood on Halloween. These are the most popular Halloween costumes on Amazon right now.

Step away from the sewing machine

If the last time you operated a sewing machine was 8th grade Home Economics, save yourself the hassle of stitching together a homemade Halloween costume. “Tape, hot glue guns, and staplers can do amazing things,” says costume designer and Broadway dresser Sam Brooks. After all, unless your goal is to create a long-lasting and reusable costume, your DIY creation only has to survive one night.

Mix it up

When skipping a store-bought costume, Katharine Tarkulich suggests putting your own spin on a well-known character. “Whether that’s doing a superhero as a pin-up, turning a historical figure into steampunk, or combining two things you really love into one unique costume, the sky really is the limit,” says the freelance costume designer. Mashing up multiple ideas is also a fun way to brainstorm clever Halloween costumes for couples.

Focus on the details

“You can create three different costumes with the same dress just by switching up your accessories and makeup,” says Katie Echeverry, the CEO and founder of Unique Vintage. When going the DIY route, Echeverry recommends keeping your outfit simple and getting crafty with the extras. Take a sleeveless black shift dress, for example. Add pearls, sunglasses, and a top knot, and you’re Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A white jacket, red gloves, and a wig transforms you into Cruella De Vil, and to become a cat, all you need are ears, a tail, and some drawn-on whiskers.

Source supplies from around your house

Need craft supplies and other accessories your DIY costume? Brooks suggests using what you have on hand first. “You’ll definitely feel like you’re in the ‘MacGyver School of Costuming,’ but it pays off,” he says. You may not end up constructing insect wings out of tape, saran wrap, and old hangers like Brooks, but you can easily become a “Cereal Killer” with cereal boxes and plastic utensils. Here are more punny Halloween costumes you can try this year.

Don’t wear your Sunday best

A word of caution before sourcing a costume from your closet: “Anything can happen on Halloween, and people are usually covered in makeup and what not, so stains are likely,” says Brooks. So if you’re going as the Bride of Frankenstein, you might want to think twice before wearing your wedding dress as your costume—even if you still fit into it! Here are 17 easy Halloween makeup ideas that almost anyone can master.

Get yourself some toupee tape

Topstick is technically a grooming tape meant for holding toupees in place, but the double-sided adhesive strips can solve most “sticky” situations, according to costume designer Stephanie Levin. Going Greek? Use Topstick to prevent your toga from having a wardrobe malfunction. Borrowing your tall pal’s bell bottoms? Try it to temporarily hem them for the night.

Visit your local thrift store

Looking for inspiration? Levin suggests taking a trip to a thrift store. “You can find items that are clearly a new costume, you’re able to put together a whole look,” she says. Thrift stores are also great places to find finishing pieces like a cane, an old-lady handbag, or a trench coat. You might even find what you’d need to put together one of these 14 clever Halloween costumes for work.

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How to Choose Your Perfect Halloween Costume

With Halloween coming up, you are getting stuck for ideas of choosing costumes for this event? No fear, there are plenty of ways to come up with creative ideas for costume while keeping within a budget. Here are some of our advice that will help you to pick your perfect Halloween costume this year.

Find your Halloween style

Are you Sexy? Scary? Cute? Or Angry? Your Halloween costume is the great way to let people see a side behind of yourself that you don’t usually get a chance to share such as something really fun, wacky or scary. Or, it could emphasize a side of you that everyone already knows and loves well, such as being zany, cheeky or bright. In finding your own Halloween style, think about what you wear on a daily basis that makes you feel comfortable for the most. This is the easiest way to help you to think of costume right away. For example, if you usually wear a skirt or a dress? You can pair these things with something a little more exciting to form a costume, such as a witch’s hat on top of a dress. I believe that you will be the cutest witch as ever in the world. In case normally you wear jeans, will a cloak over the top of jeans be a good idea? Also, think of the colors you normally wear. If you always wear black, you probably wouldn’t want to be a fairy, although a dark fairy could be a good option. If you like bright colors think of pumpkins, elves, fairies, rainbows, etc. If you like darker colors, think of ghosts, vampires, skeletons, evil geniuses, or even maleficent etc. However, feel free to mix and match, as it’s Halloween and anything goes. Also, think of your interests. What do you like to do? Make a list of the things you enjoy to do like sport, cosplay, cooking, playing games, dressing up, reading, etc. For example, if you like football, why shouldn’t you be a famous football player; if you’re fan of TV show, dress up as one of the characters you like for the most; if you like animals or food, dress up as your favorite pet or dessert, fruits or anything you like. Match the list of options to the items you have available and be creative.

Halloween and anything goes. Also, think of your interests. What do you like to do? Make a list of the things you enjoy to do like sport, cosplay, cooking, playing games, dressing up, reading, etc. For example, if you like football, why shouldn’t you be a famous football player; if you’re fan of TV show, dress up as one of the characters you like for the most; if you like animals or food, dress up as your favorite pet or dessert, fruits or anything you like. Match the list of options to the items you have available and be creative.

Care on budget

Halloween costumes can range from cheap to very expensive, so it’s important to have an idea of what you’d like to spend. When choosing, always check to see what’s included in the costume, because some costumes will be much cheaper than others when add-ons are accounted for. A costume containing, for example, a shirt, pants, hat, wig, and belt will be a good deal if you get the cheaper price for a single piece. On the other hand, a single dress or costume item could cost the same amount, so you would need to balance up whether or not it’s worth it to you and fits within your budget. Besides that, you should look for sales. Stores have sales all the time for Halloween costumes, especially if it’s very close to Halloween. Be sure to check the TV, internet, and newspaper ads for upcoming sales on Halloween costumes. By checking the sales, you could get a great costume for a small price.

Keep time in mind

Make sure that you have enough time to find your perfect Halloween costume. First of all, start thinking about a month before and try to allow yourself at least two weeks ahead to start to make your choice of costume. Although it seems early, thinking ahead gives you the space to make something that fits well and gives you the chance to run down or change your mind. Try not to buy costumes at the last minute as this will often mean the best costumes are already taken and out of what is left, they may not be in your size or to your liking.

Check the weather

Do check the weather beforehand, both in the days leading up to Halloween and on the day itself. This will help you make the right choices about what to wear and whether you can get away with not wearing an overcoat and tights if it’s cold outside or whether you’ll need an umbrella if it’s rainy. If it’s hot, thick leggings, a jacket, or a heavy costume will not be good choices. Avoid layers, and wear something thin. Lighter colors are better than darker ones. Try putting your hair in a ponytail so you won’t get extra hot. However, if you need to wear layers, I don’t think it’s appropriate one! Find another costume. If it’s cold, wear a coat, and wear a shirt under your costume so you won’t be chilly. Try to choose the costume that suits with boots as well.

Consider a group costume

If you’re planning to go out with some friends, one cool way to appear is to have matching costumes. This can be hilarious for onlookers who see a bunch of the same characters or similar ones or even group of characters in the series of horror movies coming to their door. Discuss with your friends if they like your ideas, I do believe they will excitingly support it. Have a memorable Halloween !!!

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7 Things That Make Choosing A Costume For A Show A Pain In The Ass

When your team is preparing for a performance, the dancing is the biggest, but not the singular, part of the artistic process.

Turning choreography into a production involves several more elements, including: staging, props, lighting- and of course, costumes!

What you wear on your body is critical when it comes to dance- it can either hide or highlight or complement or distract from your moves. Thus, choosing a costume can be a difficult process for a team.

But since it is also one that depends on the comprehensive artistic vision of the set, this nifty flow chart/ infographic can help make your #costumestruggles a bit easier to navigate:

The MONEY

This applies to any and all costumes, really.

You’re probably not going to have a spare astronaut suit or full on cowboy hat-britches-boots combo laying around in your closet, so themed sets often require dancers to buy at least part of their costumes.

And if you’re a student / worker / dancer / car owner with current gas prices (gee whiz), I doubt you are A-okay with blowing a bunch of money on a costume you’ll only wear for a few performances.

THE SILVER LINING:

If you already own a part of the costume you have to buy “Black shoes” – oh! done!

Buying something for the costume that you’ll probably wear irl (in real life) Oh! These joggers are actually cute. ANDDDD every time I wear it people will know I danced in (Team)’s 2013 VIBE set. Hohohoho~

The MAKING

Again, with any costume, but most particularly with themed costumes- to cut our wallets some slack, we have to make a lot of stuff! Sewing on details or cutting up shirts, it requires a a few team members to get hands-on. It can be a tedious process- sewing is fun, but doing it 40 times to 40 pocket tees gets tiring.

THE SILVER LINING:

Costume making parties bond teammates! Your fingers are about to fall off too? Awwww, Little!!!
It allows for someone to take the spotlight of being team seamstress! Oh my shirt? Soft, huh? It’s made of Wifey Material.

The CHARACTERS, ACCURACY/APPROPES-NESS

There’s a bit more research that needs to be done depending on your theme, and a lot more questions to ask.

Does everyone fit the theme?
Are we staying true to the theme, historically / technically / scientifically like seriously. Are the main characters too flashy? Not different enough?

There are a few more problems that come with it- when we have such specific costumes, you have to REALLY keep track of all its components. Like how can you play a pirate if you’re missing your beard and hook and parrot?!

And you’re also not gonna be wearing this costume on a regular basis irl. tbh. Unless it’s Halloween.

THE SILVER LINING:

A free Halloween costume!

The HYPE

Sooo a lot of hype sets tend to go with a trend that’s hype. Confusing sentence but you get me.

But the thing with trends is that they’re not timeless. Dropcrotch pants, paisley, color block, FLORAL PRINT POCKET TEES… I can’t confidently say that our grandchildren will go thrifting for these pieces and marvel at how classic and iconic they are.

But like who cares?!

THE SILVER LINING:

It looks super cool and “in” when you’re performing. Like Wow, that team is dope and clean and are ultimate fashion trendsetters for these next 2 weeks!!

The DANCEABILITY

One of my biggest nightmares is having a wardrobe malfunction on stage that will be immortalized in 4K…

So it’s important to tuck everything in, safety pin it, and check for a costume’s danceability. Tight pants ripping, nip slips, or not being able to grand plie- AHH!

THE SILVER LINING:

‘Feelier’ sets allow for a bit more artistic freedom, so if a nip does happen to slip- hey! We’re just pushing artistic boundaries. Very modern of us.

The REPETITION

We reached a certain point in performance history where every color combo has been done before.

Khaki and maroon? Black everything with gold accessories?

THE SILVER LINING

Costumes don’t have to necessarily be innovative and out of the box to be cool. Often, the classier combinations are the the most appropriate and set-flattering.
A bulk of the costume doesn’t have to be bought or made! As long as you can pass your heather grey as a granite grey, if you don’t mind standing out a little…

The BASIC-NESS

Black pants, black shoes, and team shirts! Using a tech-rehearsal outfit for your actual performance may feel a bit… basic. But it’s a great go-to! If all else fails, it will ALWAYS work, and it will ALWAYS be timeless!

THE SILVER LINING

Team shirts provide a sense of unity. And the group photos will be soooo IG-worthy.

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10 Expert Tips for Choosing a Costume

From finding the perfect costume to clever makeup tips, expert Cherry Snow shares her expertise for choosing a Halloween costume — and making the most of it.

  • Read the fine print. Know exactly what costume pieces and accessories you’re getting before buying. “We’re really careful to list and detail everything that is included so there are no surprises,” says Snow. As with any consumer goods, read the return and exchange policy before making a purchase.
  • Predict the weather. Before you buy, think about what the weather may be like on October 31. Leotards and tights help little girls stay warm underneath a skirted costume, Snow says. For boys or girls, long sleeve T-shirts under their costumes add a layer of warmth.
  • Know the right size. “Keep in mind that a children’s size 4-6 is the clothing size, not an age range,” Snow says. For any costume on, the sizes of women’s costumes are based on dress sizes, while the sizes for men’s costumes are based on jacket sizes.
  • Buy early. Don’t wait until the last minute to purchase a Halloween costume, especially if you’re ordering online. “Baby costumes are always bought early,” Snow says, “If you do buy early, calculate the age the baby will be on Halloween and buy the costume based on his or her expected size. “This goes for all infants and kids, too.” And don’t wait to find costumes for teens and adults, Snow says. Those go fast as well.
  • Try it on. Take the costume out of the bag well before October 31, just in case it doesn’t fit. Steam or iron the costume before wearing it. “Treat a Halloween costume like an outfit for a special event,” Snow says. “That’s the way to make the most of it.”
  • To save money, use makeup. Short on cash? Change your face with makeup to help the same costume look dramatically different if attending multiple Halloween events. “Be sure to follow all directions for applying and removing makeup,” Snow says. “And make sure any makeup you use is hypoallergenic.”
  • Accessorize to add variety. Add gloves or a hat to help make the same costume look different from one night to the next, Snow says. Plus, adding different accessories is a cheaper alternative than purchasing two costumes.
  • Practice in advance. Buy enough makeup to do it twice — and leave enough time to get ready. “Do a practice run with your makeup a day or two, or even a weekend before the Halloween event,” Snow says.
  • Make costumes safe. Some costumes come with masks or hats. “If the eye slits of a mask are too small to see out of, make them a little bigger by cutting them open,” Snow says. “Then use makeup to blend in the color of the mask with your skin.”
  • Know your pet. Dressing up your pet for Halloween? Understand that some pets just don’t like to wear a costume, Snow says. “Stick to something that has a cape if your pet isn’t thrilled about wearing a costume.”