Costume Holiday House is a small business in Columbus offering an outlet for Ohio State students to think about their future costumes. Credit: Pearl Carey | Lantern Reporter
With Halloween less than a week away, scrambling for a last-minute iconic costume can create more stress than excitement.
Despite the overwhelming amount of costume ideas, college students are often on a budget, making the right costume difficult to find. However, it’s not impossible to find something affordable and creative. Avani Bhall, a second-year in fashion and retail studies, said she can empathize with not knowing what to be for Halloween but has a few tips and tricks for other students struggling.
“I mean personally, like, I’m not quite sure what I’m gonna do yet,” Bhalla said. “But I really think it’s just about using your resources.”
Bhalla said using thrift stores, such as on-campus options Flower Child and Out of the Closet, to create a costume can be important in terms of sustainability, and people should keep a time frame in mind in order to get the most out of the stores.
“Going in with an idea of what you want to be and then looking through and not giving up is important,” Bhalla said. “I would say that if you really want to create a costume on a budget, you have to make sure you visit a couple places and really take your time.”
However, figuring out the right costume can also be tricky, Bhalla said. She said searching social media for creative ideas is the perfect place to start, as well as working with what is accessible.
“On TikTok, I saw a girl with red hair being the Wendy’s character,” Bhalla said. “And I think that’s great, working with what you have in your personality and appearance can make a costume super fun.”
Although it can be tempting to stick with classics, Bhalla said creativity is key to a great costume.
“Personally, I do think there are some costumes that I’m tired of seeing,” Bhalla said. “Pirates and fairies were big last year, and it may be interesting to see people switch it up.”
Even if the inspiration is set for certain aspects — like accessories — can elevate the look, Dane Harter, owner of the Fashion at OSU Instagram page, said.
“People think, ‘Oh yeah, I just need the right top and bottoms,’” Harter, a second-year in fashion and retail studies, said. “But think about matching earrings or bracelets or a necklace, you have to complete the full look.”
Harter said another aspect of Halloween costumes commonly overlooked is the shoes.
“If you’re taking a picture for your Instagram in your costume, you don’t want to have to crop the shoes out because you’re wearing the same shoes you wear on a night out,” Harter said. “You want to get the full look.”
When looking for those pieces to elevate the look, stores like Costume Holiday House at 851 Bethel Road can help customers find a quick and original outfit close to campus, store manager Pam Hickman said.
“We have to figure out, kind of, what customers like first,” Hickman said. “Also, how far they want to go is important, if they want to do something simple or more complicated is important to understand first.”
In terms of go-to costumes, Hickman said she’s seen an uptick in the 1920s flappers’ dresses since 2020 because the costumes are fancy, easy and fun.
“We’ve also seen a big uptick in 1970s costumes, those ones are always fun,” Hickman said. “Of course, all the regular standbys, you know, pirates and TV movie characters, things like that.”
For couples, Hickman said she’s seen college students pick simple matching costumes, instead of choosing differentiated pair costumes.
“There’s not a lot of specific people,” Hickman said. “People go for pair costumes, like skeletons or hippie costumes. No one is really doing things like the bride of Frankenstein and Frankenstein so much.”
As of late, Hickman said her college-aged customers focus on pop culture-based costumes, like those from “Squid Game” or the classic Mario and Luigi costumes.
No matter what you choose as your Halloween costume, Hickman said the emphasis should be on dressing up costumes with makeup and creative touches outside of just the costume set.
“The best Halloween costumes I’ve seen are when people add little things,” Hickman said. “Make it fancier than just a costume that came out of a bag.”
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