(credit: CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images)

Your best Halloween costume for 2014 is limited only by ingenuity and your wallet. But, if your Bay to Breakers get-up or borrowing stuff from a friend’s Burning Man collection isn’t right, shop early! The best ideas for a great Halloween costume needn’t be the most expensive ones. Last year, we found some super places for ghastly and ghostly costume shopping on a budget, and this year, we’ve found some more in all price brackets.

A.C.T. Costume Rentals Shop
1119 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 439-2379
www.actcostumerentals.org

Look like a million bucks and support the non-profit arts while you’re at it! The American Conservatory Theater rents the very same dramatic looks you’ve admired onstage at a live performances. These are the same costumes worn by actors over the past 30 years. Most costumes rent, complete with all accessories, for around $120. Appointments are required where you’ll get personal service, fittings and expert tailoring. The selection is vast, so leave time to enjoy it.

(credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


Costumes on Haight
735 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 621-1356
www.costumesonhaight.com

Don’t come here for a plastic skeleton onesie or a traditional witch get-up. Do come for a one-stop shop for costume, wig, facial hair, mask, shoes, hat and makeup. If you need inspiration, this is the place. Don’t delay, as the inventory is awesome (as the name would suggest) all throughout the year but is in heavy demand in October. Visit online to browse the looks available for sale or rental. There are a good number of store policies to know about, too. Taking someone along for a second opinion is going to make things easier, since photos aren’t permitted in the shop.

Cliff’s Variety
479 Castro St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 431-5365
www.cliffsvariety.com

Long associated with Halloween in the Castro, Cliff’s is a San Francisco Halloween icon. Due to Bay to Breakers, Pride Day, Burning Man, SantaCon and more, it stocks costumes year-round, but Halloween is a biggie. Calling itself home to the hard-to-find since 1936, Cliff’s certainly knows its clientele. Come and talk to Terry and the team about who or what you really want to be this year.

SF Party
939 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 931-9393
www.sfparty.com

At SF Party, you can grab a sexy nurse’s uniform, Dracula’s cape, deadly ninja, Herman Munster and a lot more as there are hundreds of costumes to choose from for men, women, boys and girls. Most are priced from $10 to $70, not including makeup and accessories to embellish a theme. If you’re planning a Halloween party, this is your one-stop shop for spooky bat balloons, skeleton window clings and other decorations.

Decades of Fashion, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


Decades of Fashion
1653 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 551-1653
www.decadesoffashionsf.com

Looking as much like a museum warehouse or a drag queen’s fantasy closet as a store, the name of this massive collection describes it well. Men’s and women’s garments are divided into decades, always amusing for baby boomers who, like the owner, wore this stuff on a daily basis. See more leather boots than they have in Texas and 50s twin sets to bring out anyone’s inner Marilyn Monroe. Having amassed this enormous array over the years, owner Cicely is a vintage expert and her staff is gifted at putting looks together. For purists, this beats manufactured costumes any day.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she’s writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on Examiner.com.