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BY DESIGN : CLOSET Rx : Express Male Costuming


Guys aren't immune to fear, especially at Halloween. Last week we took a look at how women could respond to a last-minute invitation to a costume party. Now it's the man's turn--what can he pull out of his closet to turn into a great costume?

"Hopefully, you're somewhat of a pack rat," says Matt Blanchard of Polo Ralph Lauren in Costa Mesa. "If you still have a lot of clothing in your closet that you haven't tossed out yet, you could pull together a great outfit."

A retro costume can be created from a few items you may not have thrown away. "If you're lucky enough to still have a leisure suit, you can turn into '70s disco-man," Blanchard says.

Even if your closet is relatively bare, you still might have the makings of a clever look.

"A suit, a newspaper, maybe some glasses and a bottle of antacid and you can become a stockbroker," says Mark Schell of Mark Schell Designs for Men in Corona del Mar, who also suggests a pair of swim trunks, an American flag and slicked-back hair to appear as an Olympic swimmer or a trench coat and shoes to show up as a flasher.

Tight slacks that are a little too short and a polo-style shirt that's a little too small can be accessorized with cans of talcum powder and beer and . . . you're a bowler, just add a ball bag.

"It's important to step back and really give your costume some thought," says clothing designer Blaine Kiel of San Clemente. "The details make a great costume."

Another popular and easy look for Halloween is the nerd. "Take your loudest shirt and button it to the neck, add a pen protector and horn-rimmed glasses," Blanchard says.

"Because the retro look is in, you can also make yourself look like a cast member from 'Grease.' " Slick your hair back, wear jeans and a leather jacket and don't forget to stop on your way to the party for a cigarette pack you can roll up the arm of your T-shirt.

Still have memories of that first job? If you have hidden away the vest, bow tie and name tag you received working as a movie usher, add a flashlight and show people to the party. If you've kept private the fact that you once worked at a fast-food restaurant that required you to wear a hat with a big chicken hanging off it, now's the time to pull it out and reveal something about your past.

Sometimes a costume is hard to recognize without the addition of a little padding. "Wear a white short-sleeved shirt, clunky blue slacks, carry a beer can and you could be anybody," says Kiel. "Add a small pillow to give you a spare tire and you can turn yourself into Homer Simpson."

For those who favor a quick costume a little less than tasteful, try the Forrest Gump: Wear high-water pants, a bow tie and carry a box of candy. Stuff shrimp in your pockets to be a little more outrageous.

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