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San Francisco Halloween Costume Guide

With just one full weekend left before Halloween, it’s time to get down to brass tacks on the costume front. Whether you’re in need of a finishing touch or a head-to-toe look, whether you'd prefer to buy or would just as soon D.I.Y., we offer up this list of the City's best bets to help you in your Halloween costume quest:

Trusty Favorites

Be prepared to queue up for rentals at Costumes on Haight, the city’s best-known destination for complete looks on loan. Also offering rentals, alongside vintage attire and dress-up worthy lingerie, is the Tendernob’s Costume Party. Far-out finds befitting fetish-inspired fantasies can be found among all manner of sparkly, furry, feathery accoutrements at Piedmont Boutique in the Upper Haight. Noe Valley’s One-Stop Party Shop specializes in party supplies, but stocks a solid assortment of costume-ready accessories, hats, masks, wigs and novelties for all ages. The Castro go-to for Halloween needs is Cliff’s Variety, where offerings range from inexpensive masks to complete costumes. In the Mission, Retrofit offers an enviable selection of wigs and facial hair pieces, theatrical makeup and prosthetic parts (including horns) in addition to its vintage clothing selection and make-your-own t-shirt bar. Wig central, of course, is none other than the Wig Factory, where options range from high-quality hair pieces for everyday use to day-glow varieties ready for the stage.

Options of Operatic Proportions

This weekend, the San Francisco Opera Costume Shop opens its Potrero Hill doors just in time for Halloween (and only the fourth time in its history) during a public sale of costumes, accessories, shoes, hats, masks, fabric and memorabilia from past productions.

Along with handmade period costumes for men, women and children, the sale also features one-of-kind collectibles such as hand-painted kimonos used in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and 18th-century ensembles from Massenet’s Manon. Prices range from $1 to $750. A special Opera Luminaries Collection includes clothing and accessories worn by famous performers from Beverly Sills to Luciano Pavarotti.

Proceeds from the sales benefit San Francisco Opera. The sale takes place Saturday, Oct. 24, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Oct. 25, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 800 Indiana St.

Do-It-Yourself Drama

If constructing your own costume appeals, check out the variety of Halloween-themed sessions at Western Addition creative space Workshop. On the calendar are classes in screenprinting, mask-making, punk rock pumpkin carving and box costumes you can make in two hours for a recession-friendly $20. Or take matters into your own hands with a visit to SCRAP, where shelves stocked with donated fabric and textiles, art supplies, paper products, toys, cast-off tchockes and oddities of all kinds are sure to fuel your creativity. If you’re motivated to sew your own gear this year, head downtown to Britex Fabrics for top-quality textiles or delve into the wide variety of options at Discount Fabrics locations or Mendel’s in the Upper Haight.

Thrift It


Hidden gems on the cheap await at San Francisco’s wealth of thrift shops, among them San Francisco Goodwill locations, Out of the Closet, Community Thrift, Thrift Town and Mission Thrift.