Have you picked out your holiday costume yet?
Halloween’s not the only excuse to take on an alternative identity, you know. A Santa suit, an angel outfit or even a simple red-and-green elf hat can liven up just about any occasion during December — a party, a race, a parade, a wedding, even a regular old day at the office.
The Santa suit is usually the first costume that comes to mind at this time of year. The jolly old elf’s garb can be rented or purchased at several sites locally. You can get the classic red crushed velvet suit or something more modern for a sleek Santa look.
Halloween Hall in Ballston rents and sells traditional suits for the serious Santa wannabe. The suits come in a variety of fabrics.
“It kind of depends on where Santa’s going to be working. Sometimes he’s indoors and he doesn’t need a real heavy suit. Other times he’s riding around on a firetruck and then he needs a plush, heavy suit,” said Lois Myers, who owns the shop.
Although they come from New York City, not the North Pole, the suits Myers rents would likely make Mrs. Claus proud.
“These are beautiful suits,” she said. “If you were to buy the suits that I rent, the cost is between $300 and $400.”
Santa costume rentals at Halloween Hall run from $60 to $75 for a weekend. Fluffy white beards and wigs must be purchased separately.
Santa is the most popular costume rented during the holidays at The Costumer in Schenectady.
“We’ve been dressing Santa since 1917, and we’re very fussy about what Santa looks like,” said owner Kathe Sheehan.
Most of the costumes The Costumer rents and sells are made in-house, although there are some less elaborate Santa get-ups for sale there that were manufactured elsewhere.
“If you’re just going to an office party with adults and you just want a joke, then you can get the cheaper ones, but if you want some little one to think that’s really Santa, we’re very, very fussy about how we do Santa,” said Sheehan.
An office-party-quality Santa suit made of felt can be purchased at The Costumer for around $49. A serious St. Nick suit will set you back somewhere around $400. But if you just want to rent one for a day, it’s $75 for a professional-grade costume. Extra-large sizes cost $85.
Accessories like wigs, little rectangular glasses and stomach enhancements can be purchased at The Costumer as well.
For those who feel the traditional St. Nick look has gone a bit stale, there are Morphsuits, the latest in avant-garde Santa-wear. A Morphsuit’s a skin-tight body suit, worn most comfortably by less portly Claus impersonators.
“Morphsuits are like the biggest thing going right now,” said Finn Johansen, store manager at Party City in Niskayuna. “It’s a full Lycra body suit that covers your face. It zips in the back and you can accessorize with anything. You can see through it, you can breathe through it, you can drink through it.”
Party City carries Morphsuits for every occasion, in just about every color, as well as a red one that has a Santa suit pattern printed on it. “You could just accessorize with glasses, with the beard, with the gloves, with the bag, with the booties,” suggested Johansen, who admitted that the costume doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
If Santa’s not your bag, there are plenty of other holiday characters to dress as. Halloween Hall rents lovely Mrs. Claus costumes.
“She’s a little more unpredictable [than Santa],” said Myers. “We have nice, heavy, crushed velvet kind of stuff, long, for a sort of matronly-looking lady, and we also have one that has a short skirt.”
Halloween Hall’s version of Mrs. Claus — even the short-skirted one — could never really be classified as sexy, Myers noted. “But we have some elf things that can pass off as sexy,” she said.
If the naughty elf outfit, or even the Santa Morphsuit, isn’t the sort of sexy look you’re after, Party City also sells risqué Santa’s helper outfits with sequins and short skirts. Other offerings include a steamy toy soldier outfit and a racy reindeer suit. Sexy holiday costumes sell well, Johansen said.
The back room of The Costumer has racks of convincing conventional costumes for anyone who’s ever dreamed of impersonating Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a gingerbread man or a character from the Nativity.
For those who prefer a more understated look, Halloween Hall offers all sorts of accessories.
“I have an elf hat that plays music. I have another one that the little balls on the edge of the elf hat light up,” Myers said. And then there are the turned-up-toe elf shoes, holiday bow ties and nifty stockings.
Party City stocks about 10 different types of Santa hats, pointy elf ears and a variety of reindeer antlers.
“We have the ones that light up, we have the ones with the lights on them that don’t light up and we have regular antlers,” noted Johansen. And just so nobody in the family feels left out, the store carries adult-sized antlers, infant-sized ones and special sets to fit the family pet.
There’s still plenty of time to come up with the perfect holiday get-up. Peak costume shopping week isn’t until around the third week of December, Myers estimated. But don’t procrastinate too long. Holiday costume enthusiasts were already out shopping for Santa hats and holiday stockings in mid-November, Johansen noted.
“People buy them early because they know we run out,” he said.