Halloween costumes get stylish and creative at Boo La La
If you've ever worn a Halloween costume, there's a good chance that you've dressed up as a ghost, a vampire, or a pumpkin—but have you ever gone as Little "Dead" Riding Hood, or Super SpongeBob SquarePants, or even Marie Antoinette?
"I think everyone should dress up in a French court era costume, like Marie Antoinette, at least once in their lives," Lauri Sluchinski, owner of Boo La La, tells the Georgia Straight by phone when reached at her costume shop less than a month before Halloween. "It's so grand and beautiful, and just the opulence of it is really fantastic."
The 26-year-old North Shore store, which sells and rents premium adult costumes (starting at around $50), was previously named Carol's Costume Corner. Sluchinski took over the shop in 2005 after a career in the fashion industry, and renamed it to Boo La La in 2010.
"From fashion to costumes, it was a pretty easy transition, but I love the freedom that costumes offered," Sluchinski says. "I found that silhouettes became much more interesting. You can play with eras, styles, and fabrics on a larger scope."
Besides dressing up as French royalty, Sluchinski thinks that dead fairytale characters also make good costumes. She suggests picking a sweet character—such as Tinker Bell from Peter Pan or Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz—and adding vampire teeth, zombie contact lenses, and fake blood.
"I think Halloween should always be a little scary in something that looks pretty from a distance—pretty scariness," she says with a laugh.
Boo La La's costume stylist Dani Barnes agrees. She once dressed up as a "zombified" Little Red Riding Hood, and believes that adding unexpected elements to a costume give it an original twist.
"You're still going to get that cute sexy look you're looking for, but you really make that costume become your own," she tells the Straight by phone. "If I was going to give some costume advice to the general public for this year's Halloween, I'd encourage people to think outside the box."
If you're stumped on ideas but still hoping to win a prize at a Halloween contest, Barnes, who grew up planning her own dance costumes before working in fashion retail, is confident that she can help you find the right outfit.
"Usually, the first thing I do when somebody comes in is find out where they're going, what they've been [in the past], and I try to ask what style of character they want to be—scary and evil, sexy and cute, or funny," she says.
When approached by clients who are unsure of what they want to dress up as, Sluchinski takes a similar approach.
"It's good if someone has a sense of what they want to be. Have three ideas—it could be, 'I'm going to be a pirate, the Grinch who stole Christmas, and Scarlett O'Hara,'" she says. "Then we'll ask you, where you're going—whether it's going to be outdoors, at a house party, or the Commodore [Ballroom]—because they're going to have different temperature elements to them. Then, it's about getting the right fit. You might fall in love with the Scarlett O'Hara costume, but if it's not in your size, who cares?"
While Barnes says that couple costumes, such as Disney's Aladdin and Jasmine, are always sought after, Sluchinski anticipates a rise in group costumes this year.
"Take the new TV show, Pan Am. We see a woman as a stewardess, and on her own, she looks good; but all of sudden you get four of your friends all to dress up in the same uniform, and it looks great. When those people come into a party, you can't help but notice them," she says.
For guys who want to dress up in group costumes, Sluchinski suggests going as pilots from Top Gun, or as sailors on shore leave.
Barnes thinks that there will be a lot of groups dressed as circus-burlesque performers and pirates this Halloween due to the ongoing popularity of movies like Moulin Rouge and Pirates of the Caribbean.
"You can put a lot of your own personality into those costumes because they’re mix and match," she says.
For group costume consultations at Boo La La, Sluchinski recommends calling to reserve an appointment time in advance; however walk-ins are always welcome. For the first time this year, the shop will also be offering in-store professional makeup (starting at around $60).
"We're going to have about six makeup artists in-store," she says. "So if it is an amazing character like the Mad Hatter [from Alice in Wonderland, where it has a real strong look to it and you're not confident with makeup, book an appointment and we'll take care of that process and get you an award winning style."
No matter how creative or elaborate a costume is, Sluchinski believes that the joy of dressing up at Halloween comes from reliving our childhoods, and getting to explore the personalities of unusual characters.
"Within each person, we have so many different personalities, whether you're a mom or a teacher, or a bus driver. But what about the one who liked to climb trees, or be Pippi Longstocking, or run around as a ghost and play tag?" Sluchinski says. "As adults, we get to do it in so many different formats, whether it's at a club, or throwing a house party, or going to a community event. Halloween allows you to play with characters, be silly, and a big kid."
You can follow Michelle da Silva on Twitter at twitter.com/michdas.