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Boo! Velcome, children of the night. Voops! It's daylight,
but before you head back to your crypt, you'll need
to know what this year's best-dressed monster is eating
(think candy) and wearing (think Monica). Here's an
A-to-Z guide to Halloween. Gotta go. Our hearse is

Topical Togs: Titanic, Toons and Teletubbies


Headlines and hit movies are the inspirations for this year's hottest Halloween costumes. Ersatz Monicas and Bills will no doubt be at every holiday bash, in some variation with a blue dress, a beret, a gold and navy necktie and a cigar.

Also expect a few Titanic passengers, some masked Zorros and that creepy-looking masked killer from "Scream," who's turning into as much of a Halloween classic as Dracula.

Kids are feeling warm and fuzzy this year, as those roly-poly Teletubbies are proving to be a major hit. And don't underestimate the tried and true--Spider-Man and Batman are still going strong.

More specifically, this Halloween you'll see:

* Animated heroines come to life. Anastasia is popular, says Brian Galvin, design director for Halloween Adventure stores (found around L.A., Orange County and the San Fernando Valley). Her yellow dress and blue opera dress appeal to girls who want to go frilly. For others, there is Disney's Mulan, in both her warrior outfit and her kimono.

Boys are turning into cinematic Uberslasher Michael Meyers, complete with overalls and mask, thanks to the recent release of "Halloween H2O." And "South Park" and "Scream" costumes are also doing well.

Adult women can don a Monica wig and beret, and Galvin notes that the wig can be styled to accommodate all of Monica's many hair moods. The store also stocks a Bill Clinton mask.

If current events aren't your thing, Halloween Adventure also carries a T-shirt, hat and whistle that can turn you into a Titanic crew member.

* The Titanic look is also popular at the costume house Adele's of Hollywood, where men and women want to re-create the romantic look of the early 1900s.

"It's that look," explains owner Theresa Saidy, "with the bustle skirts and the big hats for women, and the tailcoats for men."

Also popular is elaborate Renaissance garb, with women in empire velvet gowns, and men in--gasp!--stockings and elaborate brocade coats and ruffled shirts.

* Zorro is the alter ego men are choosing this year, reports Annie Garrity, manager of the Halloween store at Western Costume in North Hollywood.

"We have the black pants, the shirt with the puffy sleeves, the mask, the hat, the sash and the little tie," she says. Sorry, whips and swords don't come with the outfit.

Garrity believes the film "Ever After," the recent costume drama with Drew Barrymore portraying a liberated Cinderella, could have an influence. It's those high-waisted feminine gowns that are the draw for starry-eyed party-goers.

* Those video-bellied Teletubbies are flying out the door at Party City stores in Hawthorne and Sherman Oaks.

"It's a runaway hit," says owner Steven Craig. A kids' version of Zorro is also big, as are classics such as Spider-Man and Batman. And, yes, even His Purpleness--Barney--is still on the wanted list.

Perennial Favorites

Throwing on a wild costume may seem like an everyday occurrence in Los Angeles, but these perennial favorites should be enough to raise the dead.

* Witch: Talk about your public relations coup. They used to burn you at the stake for this; now people are disappointed when you show up to the costume ball driving a Ford instead of flying in on a broom.

* The Devil: In this world where everything is fair and just, where only bad things happen to bad people, it seems only natural we'd want to take a break from all the sweetness and light and pay homage to evil incarnate. (The Devil made us write that.)

* Frankenstein: The key is a flat head. You may need to buy a leveler from a hardware store to get it just right. You should be able to rest a beverage on top. Grunt too.

* Pirate: Yo-ho-ho. Were these seafaring rascals really our first rap artists? Perhaps a seance with Blackbeard or his pal Bluebeard would shed some light.

* Tin Man: Everybody loves the Tin Man, and they'll love you too, no matter what kind of heartless loser you are the rest of the year.

* M & M: Seems like whether you're young or just young at heart, everyone wants to be the wholesome candy that doesn't melt in your mouth. No wonder some people want to dress like Satan.

Lookin' Back

Like so many things in our society, we looked to the silver screen and the boob tube for our Halloween inspiration and, boy, did it show.

Costumes from '88

* Freddy Krueger: From "Nightmare on Elm Street" to your street, the razor-fingered man in the fedora was king of the costumes a decade ago. Say what you want about Freddy's faults, but he did scare the teenagers.

* Jason: It must have been something in the air back then, because right behind Freddie was Jason of "Friday the 13th" fame. Everybody looked like they wanted to play goalie for the Kings that year.

* California Raisins: Maybe the first time a commercial spilled over into influencing Halloween costumes. The kids couldn't get enough of those wacky, dancing raisins.

* Alf: Remember this lovable, cute, wisecracking outer space creature from TV? Not many kids do today, thank goodness.

Costumes from '78:

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