Halloween is fast approaching, and we all know it will be a different sort of holiday this year. The Village Holiday Parade has been cancelled and replaced by a virtual component. But people all over the city are still decorating the fronts of their homes; the Halloween spirit will not be extinguished. The Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade goes virtual Saturday, “Blood Manor,” a haunted house experience will be open with safety and social distancing, and the Village Halloween Costume Ball will take place virtually. New Yorkers do not give up on something they love. They adapt.
New York is a city of one-of-a-kind stores, and some of them specialize in making holidays happen. Find the costume and vintage stores selling looks to kill, or be killed by. There are thousands of looks, from super scary to super heroes, sexy and demure. You will be celebrating Halloween with attitude.
Abracadabra is one of the largest costume and prop stores in the city. Be warned that gruesome, assorted limbs, heads and other body parts are for sale in the deli case at the store’s entrance. Do you have a few limbs to spare?
Props like these animals are for sale or for rent. They are not inexpensive, but they do make a statement. Abracadabra has the largest selection of props in the city. There are walls full of packaged costumes and they are sold in all sizes, from petite to plus size, so no one is left out.
Odd creatures like this on are on sale, or for rent, as are skulls to wear or to decorate with. The store has three levels, and is packed with many unusual items. These elaborate masks can finish your look.
We all know that Halloween is a big holiday for kids. Trick and treating is discouraged these days, but pumpkin carving and dressing up in your pod is perfectly okay. Disney characters, superheros and other franchise costumes are available, from Star Wars to Harry Potter. Princesses, fairies and cowboys, too.
There are many different kinds of masks. The masks are roped off so people do not try them on.
If wigs are your thing, you will find hundreds of styles to chose from. Fright, punk, glam, historical and more. There are also more masks for Halloween or other holidays and masked parties.
The selection of make-up is extensive. In addition to glam make-up and glitter, you will find all sorts of prosthetics. Scars, burns, ears, noses, horns and more. There are even different shades of blood to chose from. Eek!
In the basement is a large selection of non-packaged costumes. These are new pieces of clothing produced by the store that resemble vintage clothing.
The costumes are arranged by theme. You can rent some of them — usually the more elaborate costumes. And they are available to buy in a variety of sizes.
Period costumes include the ’20s, ’70s, ’80s, Colonial and other eras, Fairy Tale, TV and movie themed, animal mascots, superhero and villains, medieval, and or course witches and vampires. Find hats, jewelry and other accents to complete your look. Should you want to learn some magic tricks — time travel, perhaps!? — there is a section that sells the tricks of the trade.
Abracadabra, 19 West 21st Street
New York Costumes, Halloween Adventure is a store that stretches from Broadway to 4th Avenue in the Village. Here you will find different rental props, as well as a selection of rental costumes.
People were already shopping for Halloween in all these stores while I was browsing.
Costumes are all arranged by theme, so if you know what you want it is pretty easy to find your section. All the costumes are packaged. Add-ons are scattered around each section.
Masks have their own section, with a good selection of different styles and looks.
Most of the wigs are packaged. There are over 100 different styles of wigs, current to historical.
The large section of children’s costumes was full of young shoppers with their parents.
Fangs are here for sure, as are other prosthetics. Many different novelties line the walls.
If you want a happier look, why not go Hawaiian? Every sort of look is found at New York Costume. It is a very large store on two levels.
New York Costume/Halloween Adventure, 808 Broadway (104 Fourth Avenue at Eleventh St).
Across town is Screaming Mimi’s, selling vintage fashion and one-of-a-kind costumes put together with a stylist’s eye. The first store opened in the mid-’80s. They moved from the East Village and Noho to the Meatpacking District several years ago. Celebrity clientele comes to them for their unique pieces. Not into band uniforms or glam rock? Try costumes deaccessioned from British theatrical collections.
None of the pieces here are replicas. You will find head-to-toe vintage dressing.
Should you want to mask up safely, Mimi’s offers a big selection of these decorated face shields. Other vintage masks are also for sale.
Tulle skirts for that Punkette look are available. Elaborate head pieces and wings are also specialties.
There is a large collection of vintage shoes and boots to make your look truly authentic.
Want to dress with imagination and humor? Screaming Mimi’s is for you. There is a reason why they have been in business for over 30 years.
Screaming Mimi’s, 240 West 14th Street
Gothic Renaissance offers many different looks for men and women. The clothing is all new, and is sourced from many countries. Walking into the boutique is like stepping into another world.
Many pieces are a bit old-school rock-inspired, looks that some people might wear year-round.
Hundreds of different looks are on display. They bill themselves as an alternative fashion boutique.
Bikers and dandies can find pieces. Would-be pirates and princesses will find things, too.
Tiaras crown the princess look. There is also a lot of jewelry among the masks to finish your look.
Pieces are tucked everywhere. You never know what you will find here as the stock changes all the time.
Build an original look with the many pieces available here. You will be unique.
Gothic Renaissance, 110 Fourth Avenue
Trash and Vaudeville is an East Village institution. It has been around since 1975 and is still going strong. They dressed The Ramones, as well as The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, Blondie and others. At Halloween, they offer unusual punk-inspired masks like the one above.
Trash and Vaudeville manufactures most of their clothing under the Tripp label, which is sold to other stores and websites. The punk look endures.
All the punk plaids are here, as well as lots of leather and suggestive bodysuits.
The masks are all on the aggressive side. Spikes are a big part of the punk look.
Even if you don’t want to go full blown punk, the whimsical handbags or some Elvira socks can add a fun touch to a simpler costume.
There are a ton of rock tees for sale, too, along with vintage hats. Marky Ramone’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame statue sits next to a grotesque mask. If you want a costume with attitude, find it here.
Trash and Vaudeville, 96 East 7th Street
Not far away, Spark Pretty, a vintage store specializing in ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s clothing, offers more ideas for Halloween costumes. Stylists for TV and movies are among the store’s clients. It’s authentic.
Tony Alamo jackets are very collectable. He is a real cult designer. Its followers produced the jackets. Nicky Minaj and Miley Cyrus are fans, and Michael Jackson wore one of his jackets on the cover of Bad.
The vintage pieces are one of a kind — and all very upbeat.
Spark Pretty, 333 East 9th Street
Enchantments has everything a witch could need. The boutique has been in the East Village since 1982. They sell special hand-carved-to-order candles, other candles, incense, oils and books on magic.
The hand carved candles help people manifest their intent. The store has never dealt in dark magic, and they help people help themselves. Maybe this is something we can all use in 2020 while we are celebrating Halloween in this highly unusual year.
Enchantments, 424 East 9th Street
Barbara Hodes is the owner of NYC Private Shopping Tour, offering customized tours in New York and Brooklyn.