The Lists

where to find the best halloween costumes this year

Who are you going to be for Halloween this year? We’re torn between Princess Shuri from Black Panther, Beyoncé at Coachella, Wonder Woman, or the Duchess of Sussex. Or maybe Edna Mode? Maybe we should get the squad together and be The Incredibles? Tough call. The only thing we’re sure of is that we need to find a world-class costume shop, since we’re not capable of DIY’ing this one. So we went in search of the best upscale costume shops online, and in cities known for theatricality, flair and a serious commitment to Halloween: New York, LA, London, New Orleans and San Francisco.

Whether you’ll be handing out treats from your front door, accompanying your kids around the block, or jetting off to someplace fabulous to celebrate, you can’t help but admit it: it’s fun to get dressed up for Halloween.  

Josh Duhamel as Karl Lagerfeld and Fergie as Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette for Halloween 2016

You could of course channel your inner Martha Stewart and craft something authentic and unique with your own hands, but who has time (and the needle skills) for that?  Most of us are going to take the easier route and purchase a costume. But where? If the thought of heading into your local Spirit Halloween pop-up store or Party City has you feeling scared, we don’t blame you. Doing Halloween like a boss requires more than that.

If you want to nail it, and dress to impress your fellow ghouls and goblins on Halloween night, you need to find a great costume store to help with your transformation.

Ready to hit the shops in person?  We suggest going early for the best selections:
Located in the Flatiron district of New York, Abracadabra not only offers a wide selection of ready-to-wear packaged costumes, but also touts a department with thousands of costume options you can rent just for the evening.  This specialty shop also allows guests to book appointments with makeup artists for face and body makeovers to rock at events (we recommend making a reservation well in advance).

Abracadbra New York City

New York Costumes in the East Village is one of the city’s largest year-round costume shops and spans an entire city block with two floors of inventory.  Here you can easily get lost in a full range of costumes, masks, wigs, props and decor – you’re sure to find everything you need to complete your look.  And you know it’s got to be good when the shop counts a substantial list of celebs as clientele.

Bette Midler at her annual Hulaween Fundraiser in New York

For top quality costumes try a consultation with premier costume designer Frankie Steinz.  Visits to her TriBeCa studio are by appointment only but you can be certain your costume will be one of a kind thanks to her elaborate headpieces, high concept get-ups and interesting fabrics. She keeps over 2,000 costumes and props in her collection and will also create custom orders. Among her past creations? A  tornado, giant eyeballs, and characters from “American Horror Story: Freak Show.”  Just keep in mind that several weeks’ advanced purchase is required here.

Family owned Adele’s of Hollywood in Los Feliz has been around since 1945.  This shop both designs and makes their own theatrical costumes for film makers and trick-or-treaters alike. The most elaborate costumes here are available for either purchase or rent but there’s also a nice stock of pre-packaged costumes for kids and adults, as well as accessories, wigs and makeup too.

Located in Burbank, California, Cinema Secrets is not just a film industry beauty staple but also a well stocked costume destination too.  Thanks to this combination, staff here can help you put together extremely realistic ensembles and some can even instruct on realistic special effects makeup to complete any gory look.

One of London’s most popular fancy dress haunts for Halloween, Escapade stocks tons of ready-to-wear outfits and accessories – their inventory has over 12,000 items.  The well-known Camden shop has an extensive range of masks and accessories, as well as full character outfits, including everything from Harry Potter to Superman, the Queen of Hearts to the Black Panther.

With 175 years of experience, Angels is the oldest and largest costume supplier in London. Here you can find five floors of costumes, fancy dress clothes and accessories with everything from sequined showgirl outfits to Victorian ghosts on offer.

You might be surprised to find out that any member of the public can can make an appointment at the National Theatre’s Costume Warehouse in Stockwell, UK.  Here the rails are arranged chronologically: from dramatic eighteenth-century ball gowns to 1920’s flapper dresses for women, and from top hats and tails to Elizabethan ruffs and doublets for men.  The Warehouse’s enthusiastic staff will help you build a top to toe look from costumes created in the National Theatre’s workshops.

Halloween is huge in New Orleans, so it’s no surprise that the city is home to an excellent costume shop like Uptown Costume & Dancewear.  The shop takes the cake as being one of the most comprehensive costume shops in the entire city.  With a wide variety of pretty much everything, Uptown Costumes should be your first stop when shopping for essentials in New Orleans.

If you’ve been on Haight Street in San Francisco, then chances are you’ve seen the iconic fishnet-covered legs sticking out of the windows of the Piedmont Boutique. This shop has an amazing selection of costumes, jewelry, feather boas and beyond.

Can’t make it to the store?  Try these some of these beloved online shops:

Looking for a family or group costume?  Check out Chasing Fireflies which carries fantastical costumes for not just Halloween but anytime imaginative dress up play.  Here you can find things like a traditional witch ($64 – 89) or a classic Star Wars ($66 – $220) character to even a family roller coaster costume ($51 – 58) if you are looking for something to stand out with.  We love the very on trend Incredibles 2 Family Costume ($39 – $75) that will almost certainly be a hit with any little ones.

If your taste in Halloween costumes veer more toward the romantic Edwardian period ala Downton Abbey, Adored Vintage in Portland Oregon sells an amazing selection of antique dresses from the early 1900s, as well as party dresses from the ’50s, prairie dresses from the ’70s, and a lot more.  So whether you are looking to channel your inner Lady Mary or Dowager Duchess or Marvelous Mrs. Maisel there is something for everyone at this shop.

Adored Vintage in Portland, Oregon

You can also step it up a notch with Etsy. You could spend hours looking through the site’s catalog of handmade animal masks, mermaid tails, flower crowns and fantasy series cosplay, and there’s also an array of great rare vintage pieces to be had, too. The site carries custom costumes in plus sizes, as well as couples options, maternity costumes, and really well put together costumes of characters from your favorite TV shows and movies that will look like you did it yourself but without the hassle. We’re keen on this one, of the Mother of Dragons herself, Daenerys Targaryen ($145).

Though The Costumer has two physical locations in upstate New York, the shop has an equally impressive online selection from which to choose.  With over 100 years of experience outfitting theatrical productions, dancers, mascots and Halloween revelers, you’ll find funny, scary or traditional costumes like Anne Boleyn ($460), Elvis ($360) or Chewbacca ($500).

Whether you’re looking to top off your ensemble, or you just need something to wear that’s says “at least I tried a little,” look no further than Vogue Wigs.  In addition to standard fare like bright bold colors, and 80’s rock band locks and mullets, this online shop also carries character-specific options, from Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz ($44) to Dolly Parton ($40), as well as realistic vintage wigs categorized by decade.

Now off you go! Get out there and celebrate, and show the world the superhero (or princess, or rock star, or wild animal) inside of you. And save us some candy.

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