Vintage Avenger's storefront in downtown Arcata. The shops is a great place to snag pieces to do a DIY costume for Halloween. | Photo by Rachel Marty

Fashion Forward: Halloween Style

While online shopping is an option, secondhand stores and DIY costumes make great options for spooky season.
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Secondhand stores and DIY costumes make great options for spooky season

Any secondhand store can acknowledge that people don’t wear costumes for just one night, they recycle and reuse the pieces for other occasions and sometimes even the next year’s Halloween.

At the intersection of 11th and H Streets in downtown Arcata sits Vintage Avenger. This vintage boutique sells primarily secondhand items. Walking into the shop, you may be surprised to see some of the treasures hidden within.

Behind the counter sits the owner, Nancy Tobin, who says that people in Humboldt like their costumes to be more unique than the plastic packages you may get from a superstore.

“People don’t really like ready made costumes anymore,” Tobin said. “They kinda like pieces they can wear, like ethically sourced items you can wear for other occasions, not just specifically for a costume.”

Vintage Avenger can be your first stop in finding a costume for Halloween. They have some items you can wear as everyday fashion, too. | Photo by Rachel Marty

Ready made costumes, the ones packaged in plastic and sold in stores, are generally designed to match and work together as a unit. This makes the individual pieces of the outfits harder to reuse and style with other items.

“We try to be as much into recycling as we can,” Tobin said. “Anything gold, silver, sparkly sells fast.”

Vintage Avenger’s racks are stuffed with up-cycled pieces, fur coats and exotic dresses, and the racks tie in to the extravagant patterns that decorate the walls of the store.

Tobin said her concept of up-cycling costumes causes her to arrange the store accordingly and make decorative pieces visible to the daily shopper.

Humboldt State student Jennyfer Bonfil said her costume this year will be mixed of up-cycled materials and new purchases.

“I am going to be a DIY version of Mother Nature,” Bonfil said. “I shopped at Forever 21 online and SCRAP [Humboldt] for my costume.”

Another college student, Rose Meyers says she made an effort to not go shopping this year.

“I’m going to be one of the PowerPuff girls with my roommates,” Meyers said. “And we’re making [the costumes] ourselves.”

Shopping locally is great way to support the community and local economy, but online shopping is another option to look for costumes if you intend to buy. Ordering online can be perfect for simple basics such as blank t-shirts and tank tops that you may need to build your DIY costume, but you can often find entire pieces if you look for them.

When buying online, be cautious about sizing and cheaply made items. Also make sure to consider the shipping cost and time factors. In general, companies can send items within five to seven days, but if you need something expedited, expect shipping cost to increase for one to two day shipping.

While cost can be a priority, especially for college students, make sure you’re purchasing from reliable places. Sometimes you can get lucky and find something that closely resembles a more expensive version of pieces found in-stores, but understand that there are drawbacks to cheap costs and cheap clothing.

With Halloween just over a week away, now is the time to get those costumes together. So shop around, check out a few local shops, make something out of clothes you already own to lessen the stress on the environment and your wallet, or buy online for a (possibly) quick fix. Whichever you choose, remember to respect people and cultures, be safe and have fun.

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