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What Will Be the Most Common Costume in Chicago This Halloween?

Some local costume shop–owners share what’s been flying off the shelves in advance of the big weekend.

Photo: Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune

The jack-o’-lanterns have been carved. Pumpkin spice is in the air. Faux cobwebs hang from bushes, candy aisles look like battlefields, and enthused homeowners are testing out their fog machines. Yes, the Halloween stereotypes are in full swing, and that doesn’t exclude the costumes. To get a sense of which getups you’ll see crawling through the streets this weekend, Chicago asked some local shop owners what’s selling

Newsworthy Garb

At both Chicago Costume and Fantasy Costumes, the best-selling outfits read like a cable news ticker. “People gravitate toward the big trends of the year,” says Cathy Bunger, a manager at Fantasy Costumes. This year that’s meant Joan Rivers wigs and duds from Robin Williams roles—particularly Mrs. Doubtfire.

But it isn’t just national pop-culture events that influence costume picks. “A lot of people are coming in hoping to dress like David Bowie,” Bunger says, referencing the MCA’s David Bowie Is exhibit. “That isn’t a normal request.” And some combination of undying affection for Breaking Bad and pandemic fear of Ebola have sent hazmat suits flying off the shelves.

The Classics

At Lost Eras—a costume, theater prop, and antique shop in Rogers Park—the classic costumes are king. “It’s been a tie between vampire and pirate consistently over the last five years,” says Casey Walters, the son of the Lost Eras’s owner. And because Lost Eras traffics in theater-grade getups, their Halloween costumes will last you more than a few wild Halloweens.

Pop Culture

If you, like me, are one of the few people who still hasn’t seen Frozen, prepare for an army of characters you don’t recognize on your high fructose–saturated doorstep. It’s not just kids who are doubling down on Frozen, Bunger tells me. Adult versions of Elsa and Anna costumes have apparently been selling like down jackets after the first frost. “Halloween, as much as it should be for children, is now definitely more for adults,” she says. So think ahead. If you’re going anywhere with karaoke, pack earplugs—or endure hordes of Elsas and Annas singing off-key renditions of “Let it Go.”

Stumped About a Costume? Get Unique.

Although you’ll see plenty of Robin Williamses and superheroes running around Friday night, Courtland Hickey, manager of Chicago Costume, believes that best-selling costumes align more with the inventive spirit of the holiday. “The best-selling costume,” he says, “is anything and everything someone can be. It’s always something different, something no one else is doing, something no one else is wearing.”

The Best of the Rest

Don’t be surprised if a combination of Avengers, Justice Leaguers, and Ninja Turtles opt to abstain from their daily crime-fighting duties for an evening of doorbell ringing. You may even get your first look at fan-favorite Deadpool, a Marvel mercenary, who gets his own movie in 2016. You can also expect to see quite a few adults dressed as Maleficent, Walking Dead zombies, and Game of Thrones favorites.

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