Grown-up Halloween enthusiasts are in good company in L.A., where dressing as someone else is a livelihood. Year-round shops have popped up across the city to meet the needs of costume designers working on showbiz projects—from indie movies and major motion pictures to national commercials and stage productions. Their bread and butter is your recreation. But don’t wait until the last minute or you may have to settle for Alf when you want to be Al Capone.
At Robinson Beautilities be prepared for sequin overload and more glitz than in Honey Boo Boo’s closet. Round stands brim with blinged-out trapeze bodysuits and over-the-big-top ringleader costumes. Signs identify categories such as Witches/Warlocks, Renaissance, and Cowboys/Indians to help you navigate the serpentine aisles. Rentals cost upwards of $65 for two days. A large array of wigs, professional makeup, and prosthetics also makes this a one-stop destination. » 12320 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista, 310-398-5757.
Well-made period costumes, including Marie Antoinette bustle dresses and Napoleonic empire gowns, along with scores of Disney characters, pack The Costume Shoppe warehouse—to the point where half the merchandise is consigned to racks 15 feet above your head. The back wall is lined with shoes, from gangster-era wing tips to ruby slippers. The store has a massive supply of “walkabouts” (furry one-pieces with giant heads); among the picks are (slightly creepy) takes on Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Mother Goose, and more than a dozen bunnies. Two-day rentals start at $65. » 746 W. Doran St., Glendale, 818-244-1161.
You’ll have to buy the costumes at Ozzie Dots, but you’ll want to wear them again. Most of the inventory is composed of vintage pieces: 1960s women’s mod shifts and men’s groovy polyester button-downs that allow you to create your own retro look. If you’re stumped, go for the ready-to-wear Sexy Undead Witches, Sexy Zombie Cops, and Sexy Mummy Nurses. For that intricate Breaking Bad disguise there are lots of accessories (bald caps, plastic beakers) to complete your ensemble. » 4637 Hollywood Blvd., Holly-wood, 323-663-2867.
A Perfect Pair
A windowless space filled with wooden closets, Adele’s of Hollywood is not unlike an eccentric aunt’s attic. Liberace-inspired beaded gowns and faded, fringy ’20s dresses make up for the small selection of wigs and face paints; the creative, mostly hand-sewn rental garments start at $65 for three days. The shop also sells uncommon out-of-the-bag couples getups like “Bacon and Eggs” and “Glass of Tequila and Lime.” » 5034 Holly-wood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-663-2231.
Want to look like a star? Western Costume Company is a movie studio enterprise that rents to the public. Many of the offerings at this working-union costume house have appeared in films and on TV, so your choice might have been featured in The Sound of Music or Cleopatra, Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire. In addition to Vegas-style feather headdresses, bins are bursting with shoes and hats to finish the transformation. The 120,000-square-foot emporium (that’s eight miles of costumes) turns 100 this year. You’re usually required to book a fitting in advance and pay the consultant a $40 hourly fee, but come October 1, key pieces are displayed in a tent at prices ranging from $65 to $200 for a one-month rental. » 11041 Vanowen St., North Hollywood, 818-760-0900.
If the play’s your thing, head to StarMakers. Narrow aisles teem with such stageworthy finery as My Fair Lady crinoline dresses and Henry VIII coats and ruffs. Not only are there the ever-popular Marilyn Monroe gowns and Elvis jumpsuits, but outfits suitable for flappers, Southern belles, and cowboys. Rentals are for three days and cost from $65 to $175 plus a 10 percent cleaning charge. For an additional fee, a hair and makeup artist is available to get you ready for show time. » 1380 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena, 626-797-6384.
When time’s a factor in assembling that Brave or Amazing Spider-Man interpretation, there’s Hollywood Toys & Costumes and its strong collection of prepackaged garb. The store also takes sexy attire to another level with practically bare-it-all numbers (thongs, pasties, garters) for the exhibitionist. » 6600 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-464-4444,