Several Milwaukee stores selling fun holiday outfits

There are a few people who start planning their Halloween costumes around Independence Day. And then there are the rest of us who are still in need of a costume even though Halloween is Friday.

Don't panic. Milwaukee has a few gems when it comes to Halloween costume shopping. New Berlins store Secret Attic, 17047 W. Greenfield Ave., is one of the largest costume rental shops in Waukesha County, but costumes can be purchased there also. Dan Pronley co-owns the shop with his wife and sells costumes year round.

"We're not here for six weeks and then pick up and leave," Pronley said.

This year, Pronley said the most popular costumes are hot movie characters. His Indiana Jones merchandise flew off the shelves before October even started. Guys are flocking to the Batman, Joker and Spiderman themes. For girls or women, he's still seeing a big push for "standbys" — the Disney princesses, pirates, flappers — not very different from previous years.

But a couple trends are distinguishing the 2008 Halloween season from others. Politics are huge. All of Pronley's Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain masks were sold before Oct. 1. Also, Pronley said that it's obvious the economy is affecting people's costume shopping. Customers are more price-oriented, and people have told him that Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are packed this year with people looking for costumes but cheap prices.

As for Secret Attic's cost — it's $18-$65 to rent an adult costume. The price includes cleaning, and most times, it's still cheaper than buying a whole costume, Pronley said. Buying a costume costs $20-$50. Secret Attic also carries a large selection of high quality wigs and accessories. For all party-throwers looking for a few more ornamental touches, decorations are currently 50 percent off.

Another hit for Halloween enthusiasts lacking inspiration is Yellow Jacket Vintage, 1237 E. Brady St., which has a unique system for costume shoppers.

Yellow Jacket employees have compiled a list over the years of costume ideas customers have put together, and will distribute it to shoppers to help them find their Halloween creative genius. If you're looking for something that isn't on the list, sales associates will still help you shop around and put it together.

Unlike other stores, shopping at Yellow Jacket takes some mixing and matching — you won't find costume packages here.

The vintage clothing store sells special merchandise for Halloween — more lab coats, '80s dresses, '50s housewife dresses, and checkered dresses for all the Dorothys and Alices.

"Ugly Betty has been big this year," sales associate Michelle Badura said. 'White trash' was a common costume last year.

Prices at Yellow Jacket range, on average, from about $15-$50. Wigs and accessories are also sold. The store has extended store hours on Monday to Saturday from noon to 9 p.m.

Finally, if tight on dough, look no further than Value Village, 729 S. Layton Blvd, for Halloween attire.

All costumes in the store are marked 75 percent off. But hurry up — they're going fast. Assistant manager Doug Haese said the store started off with a selection of a couple hundred costumes. By Oct. 26, the thrift store was down to about 50.

Even if the packaged costumes are sold out, though, Value Village still offers a wide variety of modestly priced used clothing to creatively mix and match and design your own costume.