Sure, you could show up to the Halloween party or costume contest dressed in a generic mass-produced number for a party store but will you be the talk of the night? Will you win? Doubtful.
These five stores in Vancouver are treasure troves for people who have the gumption, the gall, and the creativity to put together an original costume idea. Go in with something specific in mind and ask the staff for direction or even better, walk in with a blank slate and embrace the bizarre, it's what the season is all about after all.
Here are the best places to shop for costumes in Vancouver that aren't basic.
The main street store is chock full of colour and texture. Burcu's Angels Vintage Boutique carries everything from yellow checked stilt walkers' pants to pink 70s leisure suits. The combination of random and oddly specific retro clothing makes this a great place to check out for any and all costume ideas. It's also a place to find inspiration. And we're pretty sure that a fair amount of Nardwuar's closet comes from here so maybe go as him for Halloween?
For people looking to borrow a persona and give it back after, Pandora Prop & Costume is a rental store that services the local community theatre and film scene which means they have a wide range of elaborate costumes and props that are great for parties and events without being as expensive as buying them or as time-consuming as trying to thrift them. Costumes range from recognizable pop culture characters like Mario and Lumière to unidentified pirates and Jane Austen background actors.
For anyone going for steampunk, goth, pirate, or witchy vibes, this is the store. The business has been around since 1993 and has moved to a new location on West Broadway. They stock men's, women's, and gender-neutral pieces some of which are a little on the pricier side but that's because almost everything is handmade in-store (not the shoes). Considering the quality and wearability of most of the pieces the price point is totally worth it because it can be worked into a lot of different costume themes or just worn regularly for your whimisgoth fall. Think corsets, leather, fur, and cloaks.
If Mean Girls and most of the women's costume section at any Spirit Halloween is to be believed, sexy is the name of the game at Halloween. No one does sexy better than JQ Clothing. Wanna be sexy Skittles? They've got you covered. Sexy Bratz doll? Yep. Mermaid? For sure. The LGBTQ+ inclusive shop on Commercial Drive carries sizes up to a 3X and there are lots of fun, iridescent, and imaginative pieces for all kinds of types of sexy from really out there to a sparkle of seduction.
Another Commercial Drive staple, Little Miss Vintage is full of edgy and out-there fashion that will spark plenty of creative and off-the-wall costume ideas for those willing to let their imaginations run wild. The store is a favourite of local stylists, photographers, and drag queens who frequently use its inventories for storytelling so evidently, the stock lends itself well to costuming.