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How To Get Your Halloween Costume On A Budget In Chicago

Butterfly Costume
(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

Are you going to hurl yourself into Halloween or just sit on the curb inhaling the fumes of the holiday's revelers? Don't begin belly aching about lack of funds - this is where that imagination that got you out of trouble as a kid kicks in. After all, Halloween is supposed to be a kids' holiday, so do your part to snatch it from the little delinquents and put together a great costume for the price of candy.

3400 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 281-6933

Who knows if Jack Kerouac shopped at Beatnix, but you can definitely become a Hannah or harlot Miley, general zombie or strike a "Hey, girl" Ryan Gosling pose for the night with the help of the Boys Town shop. Peruse Halloween outfits or put it all together yourself with vintage clothing, jewelry, hats and headpieces, eyewear, extensive make-up items, wigs and shoes up to size 15. For the budget-minded, head down to the basement for affordable options and snag a gleaming tiara on your way to checkout. That and a plastic baby George makes you Kate Middleton.

Card and Party Warehouse
4216 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 736-4900

There's more than rolls of colorful crepe paper and plastic plates here, although Martha Stewart types may be able to make a costume out of those, too. If you're crunched for time and brain cells, you can purchase an entire costume - all of which are priced at a discount. Andrew H Schwartz of Card and Party Warehouse says, "Recently, we've noticed that many customers simply prefer to buy an inexpensive costume accessory or kit, many of which start around $3.99, and build their own unique costume. Lots of customers like to dress like a popular pop culture character or celebrity. Those customers frequently pick up a pair of sunglasses, prices start at $1.50, a wig and some make-up." If that doesn't work, there's still hope. The shop offers last year's costumes starting at $5.

Chicago Costume

Chicago Costume Company
1120 W. Fullerton Ave.
Chicago, IL 60614

(773) 528-1264

Quality, hard-to-find, hip and upscale costume options are the focus at Chicago Costume Company. Typically, costume rentals are costly and range between $75 and $150 for three days, although you can rent one piece, say a cape, jacket or dress, starting at $45. The DIY area is where you can create cheaply: get a pixel bow tie for $6.99 and add your own old nerdy eyeglasses and a pocket protector and you're the office tech guy. Buy the giant eyeball mask for $7.99 and you're the NSA. The store also offers kits for around $10 to turn you into an instant pop star, 1920s flapper, 1960s hippie and more.

Related: Chicago's Best Halloween Costume Shops

Lost Eras

Lost Eras
1511 W Howard St
Chicago, IL 60626
(773) 764-7400

Disorganized but stocked high with odd items you may not be able to find elsewhere, Lost Eras has been providing props, costumes and make-up for film and television since 1969. Be sure to find your way down into the somewhat creepy basement to rifle thorough cheap and unusual finds from clothing to accessories that can make up a one-of-a-kind Halloween get-up. Sharpen up your haggling skills because most items at the Rogers Park shop are not priced but waiting for your offer.

Heads and Threads
1254 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-1190

Halloween is all about overdoing it, so the bloodier, trashier, gaudier and sexier, the better. Heads and Threads offers what seems like 100 varieties of fake eyelashes from sparkly rainbow eyelashes to 1960s Twiggy styles for a buck or two. Browse fishnets in every color, more cheap costume jewelry than your eyeballs can handle and very inexpensive make-up in wild hues. Buy a wig cap for 50 cents and try on countless wigs from the outrageous to very realistic - some for as little as $20.

Related: Best Vintage Stores In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at

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