by Katie Tandy
Hurray! Halloween is almost here...and you know what that means. The dead will rise from
their graves, clawing the cold dirt with their gnarled fingers, and stalk the streets for warm San
Franciscan flesh? Haunted houses and house parties will make merry with the Monster Mash?
Sheet-clad ghosts will gobble candied apples, go on hay rides and swill blood-red cocktails?
Girls will dress up like prostitute everything? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
Don’t be scared, dear Scouts. We’ve got your back. Whether you wanna be somethin’ spooky
(ghoul! goblin!) or maybe something a little more sultry (a salty siren from our beloved Bay?)
we’ve rounded up all the best costume shops for those a little more flush and in a rush (I don’t do
glue guns) as well as the a-list arts and crafts spots for all your most adored accoutrements so you can
whip up your own gruesome gear.
Costumes on Haight
735 Haight St between Pierce St. and Scott St.
Tucked bwhind two bay windows in the heart of the Lower Haight is an all glass storefront
bearing the words: “Grin and Wear It.” And grin you will. Say hello to Costumes on Haight, a
pint-sized shop that packs a serious punch of costume-d panache. Whether you’re a come-hither
kind of gal and you need a naughty nurse getup or you've got a hankering to scare the pants off
some strangers with a good ol' fashioned face wound, they’ve got your darkest desires covered.
From a melange of mustaches and FX make-up to wings, boots, bunny and bear get-ups, you
can channel just about any beauty or beast you want. In addition to hawking EL wire for all your
self-illumination needs, Costumes on Haight also features totally professional prosthetics, a slew
of first-rate rent-ables and a downright devoted staff that’ll help you take your togs from ho-hum
to holy sh*t! Go ahead, get weird.
Fantasy Clothing Company
1275 Folsom St. Ste. 100 between 9th St. and 8th St.
Say what you will about SOMA (stinky, scary) it boasts a grab-bag of humanity as well as
divine dress-up options, namely Fantasy Clothing. Divided into easy to navigate sections
depending on what you’re on the prowl for—from pirate garb to all things gold—you could
burn a couple hours just exploring the well-stocked drawers and shelves that are brimming with
enough baubles to make a drag queen blush. Lisa, the owner, will give you a first rate lesson on
makeup application as well as walk you through her extensive collection of vintage jewelry for
just the right amount of sparkle. (An eye-singeing amount, please.) While the prices can be a little
steep, the quality is unquestionable; if you’ve got a party to w-o-w, you might wanna drop a little
dough on something spectacular. Got your heart set on something special and think you might
need a rental? Make sure to make an appointment to see the behind-the-closed-door goods.
Mixcoatl Arts and Crafts
3201 24th St. between Van Ness Ave. & Cypress St.
While Mixcoatl is decidedly not a traditional costume shop—owner Connie Rivera highlights
ethereal wares celebrating Latino artistry—this spot boasts an incredible selection of Mexican
wrestling masks, perfect for the final ka-pow! your costume needed. Let the electric blue and
yellow sign woo you inside where you’ll discover a delectably creepy collection of Dios Des
Muertos treasures from marionettes and sculptures to grinning skulls and funeral fetishes. Come
to think of it, you should snag some of this stylish spookiness for your house party and kick your
kitsch up a notch. Meander over to the Mission and check this Mexican Mecca out; it’s a one-
stop shopping spot for any fledgling superhero, avenger, vigilante, caped villain bad-ass that
needs to hide their elusive identity, take over the world, save a few damsels, or just down a few
brews at a Halloween bash.
2109 Mission St between 17th St. and Clarion Alley
Get a little gritty and put your big kid pants on to explore Fabric Outlet, and feast your eyes on a rainbow wonderland of tawdry treasures filling every nook
and cranny. If claustrophobia is something on your radar, better take a Valium. Boasting a huge
variety of fabrics from satin and silk to fur, netting, metallics and tulle, you’d be hard-pressed
not to find what you’re looking for. And then some. Despite its tight quarters, Fabric Outlet
is uber organized with colorful wares stacked high on tables or rolled against walls. In
addition to its namesake offerings, FO also boasts a supreme selection of ribbon, lace, sequined
trim, brooches, feathers and sew-on patches to polish off peerless Halloween vision. Rumor has
it they have gulp-inducing sales fairly often—typically 40-50% off —and around Halloween, they
offer up even wilder wares. Jo-Anne’s has nothing on ‘em. And did we mention it has a mounted black-light so you can test your glow-in-the-dark fabric?
50 13th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
You loved David Bowie in the Labyrinth right? Good. Because you’re going to need some
wiles to navigate this den of delectable doo-dads. Ya gotta have some patience to peruse all of
Stanislaus’s offerings, but you won’t be disappointed by what you discover. And creative
juices? Your craft-y cup runneth over. From paint brushes and rhinestones to beads, doll parts,
glitter, ribbon, faux flowers, scrapbooking stuff and every thingamabob in between—enough
to make Ariel green with envy—the search is almost half the fun. The shop itself is a little
overwhelming—and messy—but the staff are savants and know just where everything is so be
sure to ask if you don’t spot something you heart desires. We’ve also heard that upstairs is a
treasure trove of bursting boxes which they bring downstairs sometimes— you’ll never know
what’s hiding inside. Rummagers be warned: your hands are gonna get a little dirty after all your
digging...but wet naps are available. Seriously.
No matter what sort of creepy costume concoction you’ve got in your mind's eye...Stanislaus
will get you on your way. Best of all? It’s a serious bargain. So packrats beware...it’d break our
Halloween hearts to see you on Hoarders.
Katie Tandy is a freelance writer and recent Brooklyn transplant who is ever on the prowl for the strange, sublime, tasty and tawdry offerings of San Francisco.