There's nothing that kills the potential glamour of Halloween than a plastic bag full of Lycra and 30 minutes in line at Party City to make it yours forever. But a costume hunt set in Sherwood Forest or a browse under the chandeliers of Miss Havisham's dining room, led by cinephiles and theater buffs?
It's possible for even the most plastic-hating, orange-loathing Halloween detractors to rediscover pumpkin season at Rose Costumes in Denton, where seekers can rent costumes made with the stage and the consumer in mind. Judy Smith, owner of Rose Costumes in Denton, has spent more than 30 years dressing characters -- and then, her shop -- in the kind of fanciful grandeur possessed only by someone who decorated their home's foyer to look like the sick bay on the Titanic.
"I don't think you can win prizes with packaged costumes," Smith says.
So she builds them herself: a Victorian lady's skirt and capelet out of dollar-store curtains, or a faux leather jacket for Captain Jack Sparrow flocked with buttons from her garage sale surplus. And said packaged costumes can suck, but they can't hide. One of the quickest-renting getups at Rose is a pirate wench costume Smith reimagined ("Judified," as general manager DeWayne Messer likes to say) with lacy bell sleeves and some ladylike length.
"It's flattering on a little tiny woman and a big woman," Smith says.
The pirate wench costume rents for $50, a brocade dress for a goth-tinged Ann Boleyn rents for $60, and a just-finished Michael Jackson "Bad"-era getup designed by employee Phil Howard will rent for a bit more. These costumes, and most others, come with accessories. A wall of wigs, day-glo fishnets and theatre makeup help shoppers style their looks before leaving the shop.
The selection can be a little overwhelming for first-timers. Don't leave without tapping the well of knowledge that is the staff.
"After the rush, there are literally thousands of good [costumes] left," Messer says. "You should never feel like, 'What's the point?'"
And Smith encourages patrons without the dough to shell out on the more expensive rentals to invest in a $2 eye patch, follow her lead, and make magic out of something they've got lying around.
Lyndsay Knecht Milne is married to someone who used to work for Rose Costumes. She was present at the shop on the day the chickens were stapled to the ceiling to mark the path to the restroom. This disclosure is meant to save you from embarassment if you need to powder your nose while browsing.