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get creatively costumed for cheap

by Yee-Fan Sun
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Itís not even October and already I have visions of Halloween dancing in my head. The last two weekends have been a whirlwind of marathon thrift shopping sessions, as I patiently scour through rack after rack of secondhand goodies to find what I need for this yearís Halloween costume. Iíve hit every thrift store in town Ė twice. And Iím still not done yet. Obsessive much? Maybe. But Halloween is the one time of year where for one evening, at least, I know Iíll get a chance to step out of my usual mundane self, and be anyone or anything else in the whole wide world (even beyond). Itís a chance to be a kid again, to play dress-up, to imagine, to dream.

Most folks who claim to hate costume parties donít really hate the dressing-up aspect of such affairs. No, what they loathe is the stress of finding inspiration: that sudden ah-ha when you come up with a brilliant costume idea. A good costume takes effort, sure, but thereís work work and then thereís fun work. Fortunately, with the right attitude and a willingness to revel in the wonderful silliness of make-believe, creating the perfect costume Ė without spending a fortune, either -- doesnít have to be a chore. Check out these tips and tricks for creative costuming on a shoestring budget Ö

1 Start early. Like now. Seriously, if you wait until two days before your big Halloween party I can guarantee that youíll be sharing whatever slim pickings are left with hordes of other desperate last-minute costume shoppers. There are two basic methods for getting decked out in costume: (a) Come up with an idea for what youíd like to be first, shop for the necessary accoutrements after; or (b) Skip straight to the shopping, and let your finds be your inspiration.

The second technique, oddly enough, tends to be the less stress-inducing, provided you can let go of your inner control freak enough to go with the flow, and let your imagination run free. One of my favorite costumes ever consisted of a crazy head-to-toe, fluffy-sugary-pink ensemble that served as the basis for a completely made-up supervillain (as in, made up by me) that I called Cotton Candy. The inspiration for it all? Iíd spied a pink tutu-clad shopgirl while out costume-shopping -- and suddenly, found myself overtaken by the irresistible urge to get decked out in candy hues.

Going with option A, on the other hand, has the advantage of allowing you to be exactly who or what you choose to be Ö providing the perfect opportunity to live out your secret fantasies. If youíre planning to impersonate your favorite pop star/ movie character/ icon/ superhero/ whoever, do a little research and find as many photos of said personality as possible, to make sure you know what to look for when you head out to the shops.

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