Dressed for fright and fun

Finding the perfect Halloween costume can be daunting while weeding through the bloody hands, bold wigs of every color and rolls of fabric in any print imaginable.

Luckily there are a slew of costume shops in the Seattle area for renting, buying or making your own Halloween hit.

Change up the old

At any given college party you will find a girl dressed as a slutty nurse, cowgirl, cop, cat, angel, devil, school girl -- you get the idea. Well everyone wants to look hot for the Halloween, try spicing up the traditional.

Instead of being a normal nurse add in some dead makeup. Instead of being a traditional cowgirl, why not pose as Annie Oakley?

Many costumes come prepackage, ready-to-wear in a bag. These costumes could be very generic, but not if you take the time to add a personal touch. This is also a great way to ensure you will not match 10 other girls at the party.

Erika Marsh, costume rentals employee at Champion Party supply, suggested adding a funky wig in an offbeat color to jolt your outfit to the forefront. If you opt to go with your natural hair, don't just do your normal style as well. Research the style of the decade your costume came from and try your best to copy it with your locks.

Costume shops also offer numerous accessories such as jewelry, glasses, crazy shoes and hats.

It's in the bag

Every costume shop offers bagged outfits with many of the necessary accessories ready to wear.

One clever idea was Daphne from Scooby Doo, which included a bright purple dress, hot pink boot covers, a green necktie and a neon orange wig. For those not bold enough to wear orange hair, they also have a Velma costume, brown wig and orange turtleneck included.

Other bag varieties include Flintstone characters, hippies and disco divas.

If you can't buy -- rent

By the time you buy the outfit and all the appropriate accessories the price tag can seem a little high for one night of use.

Champion Party Supply has books full of rentals, ranging from $35 to $200. The average price is $55, and not many reach the $100 mark.

The most expensive costumes in stock are Star Wars faves Darth Vader and Chewbacca. Chewy goes for $150 and Darth tops out at $200 a night. Display & Costume has the Darth costume for sale, for a mere $800. Despite the price, Toby McKes, floor manager at Display & Costume, said many Vader costumes do sell, adding that you "get what you pay for. It is really detailed with 13 or 14 different pieces."

Another pricey costume is the "curly clown" that includes its own air pack, which supplies the 12-foot inflatable clown with a constant airflow.

Some of the more creative costumes to rent including playmates, closely resembling the Teletubbies dolls, and full bunny costumes.

"A lot of people rent to win costume contests, which kind of is a rip off for people who spent the time at home," said Mary Milliron, costume rentals employee for Champion Party Supply.

Save money -- do-it-yourself

Some costume shops have books upon books of costumes they rent. The plus side to this is that you can look through the books, pretending to be interested in renting, and get your own ideas which can easily be recreated.

For men who want to have a good costume while still maintaining their suaveness, the mobster or gangster costume is a safe bet. At Champion, the gangster costume is $50 to rent, but you can find a cheap pin striped suit and fedora hat, you can pull off the same look for a fraction of the cost.

Champion also offers a Mad Hatter costume for $65, however the same look could be achieved with obnoxiously bright plaid pants, a bold overcoat and a tall hat.

Prices for the southern belle ensembles range from $40-65, but if you are lucky to find a dress that fits the style at a thrift store, the look can be yours for less. Add in a frilly hat and parasol and you will quite literally be the belle of the ball.

Or as one Champion employee suggested, the most economical option is, of course, taking a white sheet and cutting two holes for eyes and one for the mouth.

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