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Halloween Costume Ideas

Trick or Treat?

Let's face it, every other city event is an excuse to wear a crazy costume in San Francisco, but Halloween is different — it's special. This year you're bound to see some spray-painted Jersey Shore abs, Mad Men chain-smokers, and mustaches galore. So whether you're thinking morbid, provocative or just plain clever, we've got some under-the-radar costume options for you.

Vintage Costume Vixen: Ver Unica
One of SF's most beloved vintage shops, Ver Unica, will have a special Halloween section this month at its 437 Hayes Street location.

Cindy Spade and Steve Bell have owned Ver Unica for 14 years. They launched the second location at 526 Hayes Street earlier this year to offer a higher-end vintage collection.

Whether you're browsing their everyday vintage selections, which typically range from $30-$150, or storming through the more eclectic Halloween stash, you're bound to find something unique at Ver Unica.

Their Halloween pop-up shop features lots of western wear, fun hats, fur, and dresses that range from $10-$30. They also have an exquisite vintage Indian headdress going for $65, if you're up to play a pretty Pocahontas. Or if you're more in the mod mood, Spade says they have some great, Warhol-esque white go-go boots.

Costume Play: A.C.T. Costume Shop
A.C.T., one of San Francisco's most prestigious theater companies, started renting its costumes after the 1989 earthquake left the theater nearly bankrupt. Since then, it's been a great way to assemble your very own couture costume.

The multi-level warehouse space is filled with racks of blazers, hats, shoes, and dresses from different eras — all of which were worn by A.C.T. actors, on stage in San Francisco. Many of the pieces were even made in-house by A.C.T. costume designers.

Costume rentals are by appointment only, and it's best to go in with an idea of what you want to transform into. A costume specialist will pull a variety of items for you to try on, and will outfit you head-to-toe for a flat rate of $140 ($200 for a few special costumes). The fee includes a seven-day rental, alterations, and dry cleaning fees.

Callie Floor, an A.C.T. costume specialist, says most people come in looking for 18th century gowns because of their body-altering shapes and opulent extravagance.

“We like to have fun with costumes, and get a lot of steampunk requests, too,” Floor says. “Our goal is simply to put together a complete outfit that looks really good.”

Crafty Costumes: Workshop & Discount Fabrics
Whether you need A-to-B or A-to-Z help on your brilliant, top-secret, D.I.Y. Halloween costume, Workshop can help.

Run by Indie Mart queen and D.I.Y. guru, Kelly Malone, Workshop is offering a variety of classes to make this Halloween your best yet. In the next couple of weeks, the month of macabre will take over Workshop with classes like Rock & Roll Sewing, Pumpkin Carving, Open Studios for Halloween Costumes, and Halloween Cupcake Decorating. Check out the calendar on their website for full details. Classes range from $12-$34 and fill up quickly.

But before you make magic happen on the sewing machine, you're going to need the right raw goods. Discount Fabric will have everything you need. We're talking haberdashery, yards of sequin, and neon faux-fur — it's all there. The gigantic warehouse is known for its vast selection and great prices, with additional Halloween discounts all month.

One Stop Costume Shop: Costume Party
Costume Party is a festive, less expensive alternative to Mission Thrift and Costumes on Haight. The owner, Spig, is a self-proclaimed encyclopedia of fashion by the decade, and will offer an earful of advice to make your costume undeniably authentic.

Costume Party makes it easy for shoppers by offering all the fixings — hats, wigs, jewelry and makeup — to top off their whimsical costumes. They also have a full stock of vintage apparel for some of the best prices in the city. Spig even acquired a new stock of 1950s frocks that would be perfect for any to-be Mad Men Betties.

Now that you have a few costume ideas, figure out your plans with the SF Station Halloween Guide.