(Photo by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Whether they'll be handing out candy or attending a party, Americans young and old want to look their part this Halloween.
Marlene Bell, co-owner of Show-Me Rental's Stonehaus, a costume and accessory shop located at Sikeston Factory Outlet Stores, said adults and children are equally enthused about Halloween this year.
And despite a floundering economy, people are getting into the Halloween spirit, Bell said.
"On one hand, you would think people wouldn't be spending as much on this frivolity, but it's quite the opposite of that," Bell said. "People are spending more because they want to have an outlet to express themselves and to avoid thinking of their tight budgets that they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. They're stepping out of that and using this as an exception to let their hair down."
Bell and Garrett May, co-owner/manager of Halloween Super Store at the May Brothers Enterprises Building in Sikeston, along with national costume suppliers, provided their takes on this year's hottest looks.
Costume suppliers predict the top Halloween costumes this year will come from summer blockbusters and the Disney channel.
Thanks to ''The Dark Knight,'' Batman is a top costume for children, adults and pets, according to the National Retail Federation, while iParty's list of children's favorites adds the Joker, Star Wars, Harry Potter and Hannah Montana.
Popular adult costumes are a pirate and a French maid, a variation on the revealing costumes popular for women. Politics is another popular theme.
''Ghosts, mummies, witches always sell, and sometimes they sell extremely well,'' said Sal Perisano, CEO of iParty. ''However, pop culture in recent years has pretty much dictated what drives the best-sellers.''
Here are some of the year's top options:
Hooded furry animals continue to be popular choices for the littlest ones, said Cari Shapiro, vice president for Babies ''R'' Us, adding that a monkey was on track to be a top seller again this year.
Trends include ''girly-tutu-esque'' costumes, such as Tinkerbell and a ladybug with a tutu, along with monster costumes that come in blue and pink, said Shapiro.
At Spirit Halloween, lion and bumble bee are popular baby costumes, said President and CEO Steven Silverstein. And Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street and Disney's Handy Manny are top choices for toddlers influenced by television characters, he said.
Characters from the Backyardigans, which is an animated children's series, are popular, Bell said. Bell also noticed local consumers purchasing monkey costumes, and for infants bunting costumes like the pea in the pod and wriggle worm are wanted.
May said animal costumes like kittens, cows and Care Bears are popular with babies and toddlers.
Disney princesses and pirates are top sellers at the Disney Store, with new Cinderella, Ariel and ''Pirates of the Caribbean'' costumes, said Disney Store spokeswoman Melissa Rozansky.
But this year, it's all about the tweens, she said, with popular costumes including Hannah Montana, Camp Rock and High School Musical. Disney Store focused on kids ages 6 and under last year.
''Kids are watching these shows every day on the Disney Channel,'' she said. ''They want to be Hannah Montana.''
While Hannah Montana is a local favorite, so are princesses, "The Wizard of Oz" characters and Bratz while boys like Batman, the Joker, Star Wars and Iron Man costumes, Bell said.
May said he's noticed more boys requesting to be ninjas and wizards.
Halloween on a Friday bodes well for the adult costume business, said Perisano; more people are apt to host and go to parties.
Secret Wishes, which is the name of the costume line, has been huge in popularity with the young adults.
"It has been a little more sexier look. It's not vulgar. They're just a little bit more revealing," Bell said.
For example, "The Wizard of Oz" characters in this line are an updated version for young women.
"The scare crow, tin woman, lion, Dorothy, Glenda, wicked witch are short, cuter and sexier versions of the originals," Bell said.
Couple-themed costumes include salt and pepper shakers and chess pawns, Bell said.
Both Bell and Mays said customers also like to mix and match wigs and accessories to create their own costumes.
"I had a lady in yesterday who was at least in her 70s, and she wanted to be something and tried on a costume, but it didn't fit properly," Bell said. "In lieu of that, we created a look for her. We found a zebra print, whimsical witch hat with the matching zebra print, long, fitted gloves, and then we put on a long black cape and she looked like a doll.
Barack Obama and John McCain masks have been requested often, Bell said.
"We've had requests for (Sarah) Palin," Bell said, adding because Palin's candidacy was announced later in the campaign, her masks aren't available.
May said adult women favor lady bug and bumble bee costumes, and men prefer goblins, ghosts and Michael Myers costumes.
In iParty's plus-size category, top costumes are a Mafia Mama and an emergency room doctor, while Amazon's list includes a beer bottle for men and a sexy school girl costume for women. Halo 3 and a sexy Marilyn Monroe are also popular.
Couples costumes include a plug and socket, ketchup and mustard, bacon and eggs, Fred and Wilma Flintstone and a Love Guru and Hippie Chick.
Fido and Kitty won't be left out this year.
Amazon is offering costumes for dogs and cats, ranging from Dorothy to Yoda. Other popular pet costumes are a princess, bumble bee and the devil.
Anya Waring, spokeswoman for Amazon.com, said some businesses allow pets, which is a great opportunity to dress them up for Halloween.
''There's probably a lot more dogs following their kid owners around trick-or-treating as well,'' she said.
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The Associated Press contributed to this story.