Jackson, swine flu top costume lists

Published 7:29 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Every Halloween, the old mainstay costumes still pop up.

Trick-or-treaters dressed as witches, clowns and angels can still be seen begging for candy across the country. However, each Halloween also has its new costumes inspired by the year’s biggest news stories.

What events-inspired costumes are big this year? Michael Jackson and swine flu, of course.

Betty Hermann, an employee at Novelties Unlimited in Norfolk, said her store has been selling pig noses and black wigs to keep up with the demand for swine flu and Michael Jackson costumes. Last year’s political scene still is affecting costume sales, Hermann added.

“We still get calls for Sarah Palin,” she said.

Other than those costumes, the store has not been overrun with requests for anything specific, she said.

“We haven’t gotten any overwhelming response,” she said. “It’s usually the week of that you get hit hard for certain things.”

Old standbys such as superheroes and firemen still are popular at her store, Hermann said. Harry Potter also still generates a lot of requests.

An employee at Party City in Chesapeake also mentioned Harry Potter as a popular item there. G.I. Joe and Transformers also are big, though she said generic costumes such as clowns are not as popular this year.

Among adults, costumes with a pun intended (such as an egg costumes with a pointed tail, pitchfork and horns to simulate “deviled egg”) are becoming popular. There even are costumes for couples or whole groups.

For those who are out of work in the poor economy, there are many costume ideas that can be made from things most people already have. From www.costumeideazone.com, here are five.

Tourist:

Just about everyone owns a Hawaiian shirt. Add some Bermuda shorts, a visor, a camera (or two) around your neck, and sandals on your feet (socks optional). Find or make some brochures and tickets to stuff in your pockets and you’re good to go!

Gypsy:

Wear your funkiest colors. Girls: layer two or three skirts on top of each other, with a peasant blouse and lots of jewelry. Guys: wear loose pants tucked into boots, with a shirt unbuttoned to reveal several gold necklaces (plus a vest if you have one). Wear a scarf around your head and another around your waist, and boots on your feet (or just go barefoot).

Pirate:

Start with a bandana around your head. Boots are very helpful but you can make boot tops by wrapping dark fabric around your lower leg flapped over at the top. Women, wear a skirt with a ragged bottom. Men, either tuck some loose pants into your boots, or cut the bottom into a ragged edge. Wear a loose shirt unbuttoned at the top, with a vest (it’s easy to make a vest by cutting up an old shirt). Wrap a piece of fabric around your waist for a belt.

Cowboy:

Everyone owns jeans, and chances are good you own some kind of western or plaid shirt and boots. If you can find them, add a lasso, bandana around your neck, chaps or vest.

Nerd:

Just wear your clothes a size too small, with your shirt buttoned all the way up, and pants pulled up too high, over white socks and old-fashioned shoes. Add a pocket protector, to make it look extra-geeky.