A Frugal Student’s Guide to Costume Shoppingby Brea Weinreb on Oct, 03 2012
Every college student can attest to the fact that the theme party is a quintessential and somewhat unavoidable part of college life. We’ve all been to at least one, and have spent the weeks after regretting the overpriced costume purchased for the mere three-hour event. With Halloween in just a few weeks, I decided to search out the best- and least expensive- stores to purchase a costume, all less than a mile from campus.
Located on Telegraph just between Durant and Channing, Daiso is an unexpected gem in the search for themed party apparel. Everything in the store is only $1.50 unless marked otherwise, proving to be the most thrifty of all the stores I went to. As per Halloween apparel, there were two full displays of decorative headgear, capes, tattoos, and more that left me drooling. The random home goods, although not meant for a party, can certainly do double duty as party apparel. Are you planning on dressing as a chef or a farmer? Oven mitts and garden plows are in aisle one! One of the key tricks in shopping for a costume is to hit up the stores that are not necessarily costume-oriented, like Daiso, to avoid excessive markups during Halloween season.
The window display alone delineates Mars as a costume mecca, with a mannequin resembling the Bride of Frankenstein facing Telegraph front and center. The entire ground floor is chock-full of faux fur, oversized goggles, crazy bowties and thrifted men’s clothes that could very well double as party gear. Boy Scout’s apparel goes for $16, while tacky Hawaiian button-downs and tie-dyed tops are currently going for $10. The clothing is conveniently organized by theme, with styles ranging from ‘80s Prom to Hippie-Chic, which have both definitely made appearances on the Berkeley theme party scene. There are some pieces that are extremely out there, like a pink satin runaway bride dress going for $30, but most items are re-wearable and priced fairly.
Party Heaven, located on Bancroft, is slightly more typical, though I decided to include it for the less adventurous in need of a quick costume fix. The pre-bagged costumes can cost upward of $50, proving the frugality of buying a costume at a store like Mars, although there were some random gems like a Michael Jackson wig on sale for around $20. Party Heaven is useful for quintessential costume accessories, like glasses, mustaches, leis, and animal ears, all selling for under $10. I was drawn to the collection of hats, which spans an entire wall of the store and consists of everything from sombreros to pirate caps. The sale rack in back also had good finds, but I would suggest going to a more obscure store to save some money.
Berkeley Street Vendors:
Berkeley is flooded with street vendors, though many don’t think to peruse them for costume finds. However, they are a quick and inexpensive way to put together an outfit. Rapten Gift Shop on Telegraph sells belly dancer garb for $35, while the vendor located next to the Asian Ghetto sells replicas for a mere $10. The vendor that always sets up shop outside of Smart Alec’s is tie-dye heaven, which is undeniably useful for those ‘60s themed parties. Vendors also pose the possibility of bargaining for a lower price, which is always a plus!
Your best bet for a cheap theme party costume would be to mix and match from every store to put together a unique and memorable costume. With this in mind, happy shopping!