Well, it's almost time. Halloween is nearly upon us, and some people still need a costume for the big night. Sure, a few folks might have an amazing selection of costume pieces just laying around the house. For some people Halloween is all year round, but the majority of us don't have a closet full of cool gear to throw together a great Halloween costume without leaving the house.
So where can a Houstonian who's looking for a great Halloween costume go to find one? Yes, there's the internet, you can find anything there. But a person won't be able to try on a costume before buying it, and there's no telling if that "Sexy Avocado" ensemble that you've been eyeballing will look flattering unless you see it in person first.
These are some of my favorite costume shops. It's a subjective list, of course. What I find appealing about them might not be something others do, but they're all worthy of a trip if you're looking for a cool Halloween costume this year.
5. Party Boy - 1515 Studemont
This costume shop/party supply store has been around for a long while now, and has become one of the best Halloween costume shops in town. I mean, there's a haunted house connected to the place and a hearse is usually parked outside, it's hard to not dig that if you're a Halloween nut like me. Party Boy is a pretty big party supply store, and has all sorts of decorations for various themed parties and holidays. They have a costume rental space upstairs that seems pretty cool, although I don't usually rent costumes, and they have plenty of costumes and accessories for sale too. Party Boy has a lot of stuff, and while it's not my personal favorite costume shop in town, it's not a bad place to shop.
I've heard mixed things about their customer service, but it's always been fine when I went. Overall, Party Boy is a good stop on a Halloween costume finding excursion.
4. Arne's Warehouse and Party Store - 2830 Hicks Street Just a few blocks away from Party Boy is Arne's, an enormous party and event supply warehouse. They have a huge selection of everything from wedding supplies to a pet section, and they have Halloween decorations and costumes as well. The last time I was there, Arne's had a vast selection of costumes, although most were of the definite "cheap costume in a bag" variety. There's nothing wrong with those, but people looking for something a little higher end or unique might want to look elsewhere first. Still, there's a lot to see, and their prices are good, making Arne's a cool place to shop for Halloween.
3. Erotic Cabaret Boutique - 1222 Westheimer The Erotic Cabaret has been open since 1982 and has carved out its own niche in the Houston landscape over the decades. The store caters to both genders, and in particular to people looking for various types of fetish wear. There are a lot of cool leather and rubber outfits for those individuals who enjoy those sorts of things, and plenty of interesting clothing and accessories for people putting together a Halloween costume. The Erotic Cabaret also has lots of "sexy costumes," and a lot of what they carry seems to be of higher quality than some other places, so people looking for those should definitely stop by and check the store out. You're not likely to find monster masks or other standard Halloween fare at this place, but it's hard to beat for sexy, fetishy costume gear.
2. Southern Importers - 4825 San Jacinto Street Southern Importers has been a Houston costume resource for decades, and offers a huge selection of Halloween goodies for sale. They have an extensive selection of theatrical makeup, full costumes, fabric to make your own outfits, masks, cheap goofy accessories, and higher end stuff. It's all a little jumbled together, and I love walking around through the store to see what I'll come across. For the large supply of Halloween supplies, and the overall atmosphere, Southern Importers is one of my favorite places to piece together a Halloween costume. It's a fun place to check out.
1. Frankel's - 2801 Polk Street
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Starting out as a downtown magic shop in 1950, but soon branching into costumes, Frankel's has been costuming Houstonians for decades. The shop moved around a few times, and was located on Fannin until it moved to a much bigger location east of downtown (sorry, I refuse to use the term EaDo). The new place is enormous, taking up a city block, and has a staggering number of more than 57,000 costumes for rent, as well as plenty available for sale. Frankel's has tons of theatrical and clown supplies, masks, and makeup. Plus, they still carry stage magic stuff all these years later. It's definitely one of the best local costume stops for Halloween or any other costume-centric event. Frankel's gets busy during this time of year, but the lines are worth it, and it's my overall favorite place to look for Halloween costumes and supplies.
There are also other places to consider if you're looking for Halloween costumes and want to check out as many places as possible. There are several huge Halloween superstores that open up every year. Those places are fine, although they're obviously seasonal, and don't have a back stock of older stuff to see. They will all have about the same selection, but a large one, and are great for someone looking for a quick "costume in a bag" or other supplies. I tend to prefer stores that are open all year round, and that are unique local businesses, but that's just my own preference.
Another option, and one I've used over the years, is scouring resale and thrift stores for vintage clothes that will work for a costume idea. I found the perfect Little Black Dress at a Goodwill years back for a Halloween cross dressing experiment, and that was a hit at the parties I went to. In any case, resale shops can provide great costume ideas and resources to a person inclined to piece together something that way.
Local fabric stores are also a great option for people who have the skills to sew their own costumes, and those can often be the coolest outfits of all. Most sell patterns for various Halloween ensembles, and a person going this route doesn't have to worry about a store-bought costume being made of something itchy or fitting poorly.