Insider Tips for Successful Costume Shopping

If you've ever shopped online for a Halloween costume, then you're familiar with the elations and frustrations hat go along with it. To make your Halloween shopping easier, the gals at Babygirl Boutique offer these "Insider Tips" based on years of experience in the online retailing industry. These tips will help you avoid the common pitfalls of online costume shopping.

For example, while browsing around various online costume shops, you find a photo of the perfect, hot new costume... but no one has it in stock! You search and search and finally find it in some obscure, fly-by-night costume web store at a jacked up price. You have no choice but to pay through the nose at an iffy shop you've never heard of. Maybe you'll get it in time... maybe you won't.

Or... you order the perfect costume just in time for Halloween but when it arrives you try it on and it doesn't fit! You attempt to return the costume only to learn that the shop will not accept costumes back that close to Halloween. Or maybe they will allow an exchange but the size you want is no longer in stock.

Maybe your costume fits great but has a flaw or defect or a piece is missing, but with only a week before your party, there's no time to exchange it for another one.

Insider Tip #1: Shop Early!

Most of the shopping dilemmas you're likely to face while buying Halloween costumes online can be prevented with one simple strategy: buy at least a couple of months ahead of time!

Here's how it usually works: The new styles become available in the spring and summer. The hottest ones are snatched up in huge amounts by retailers and before you know it, the manufacturer is sold out of common sizes. If the demand is very high, the manufacturer may produce more, but often not in time for Halloween ordering.

The early bird shoppers buy up all the hot new styles, and pickings get thin towards the end of the summer. As Halloween approaches, you might notice certain retailers who have hot styles still in stock inflating their prices to take advantage of the desperate last-minute shoppers. This price gouging is common as demand for top selling costumes outweighs supply.

For some mysterious reason, manufacturers seem to chronically underestimate the demand for plus size costumes, much to the frustration of shoppers and retailers alike. These styles are especially prone to selling out early, so if you require a queen size costume, you definitely want to shop early. (More about sizing below)

Another reason to shop early is that many online retailers have special return/exchange policies in place specific to Halloween costumes. It is very common for retailers to not allow costume returns during a certain block of time. For example, many shops will not accept a returned costume past mid-October. This practice is not because retailers are greedy or shifty, but is primarily due to two very good reasons:

The first reason is to avoid the (unfortunately) common practice of shoppers buying a costume, wearing it once to a party, and sending it back. Because of these bad eggs, many shops have been forced to establish "blackout dates" for returns.

The second reason is to avoid a crush of exchanges from last-minute shoppers that the retailer is unable to fulfill in time. Most shops want happy customers who get their costumes in time for their events, so they establish a cut-off date to make sure they are able to process all exchanges in plenty of time.

Make sure you check the return/exchange policy of any shop you buy a costume from, so you are fully informed of any special policies regarding Halloween costumes. (This is good advice for any online shopping, not just costumes)

It is a good rule of thumb to assume that the costume you order will not fit the first time around, and to allow yourself at least a few weeks for processing and shipping to take care of the problem.

Insider Tip #2: Sizing

Buying clothes online can be tricky because you can't try the items on before you buy. The best way to handle this is to know your measurements. Get a tape measure and have a friend help you accurately measure your bust, waist, and hips. Find an online sizing guide specific to the brand of costume you are purchasing. Avoid using a "universal" sizing guide because every brand is different.

One of the most popular costume brands is Leg Avenue Costumes, a brand notorious for being on the smaller side. Many Leg Avenue costumes come in sizes "S/M" and "M/L" so if you're a medium, it's hard to know which way to go... up or down? But if you check their sizing guide, you'll see that Leg Avenue's large is similar to a misses size medium. So you might think you are a medium but Leg Avenue considers you a large. You can see how easily mistakes can be made! And this is just one brand... they all size things differently. Hop online and search around for a sizing guide specific to the brand you want, and always err on the side of caution (if you're a medium, get the M/L) because it's always easier to take clothes in than to let them out.
(Also note that Leg Avenue costumes sometimes come in size XS, which fit hardly anyone. This is why, as Halloween approaches, many shops will have only size XS left!)

If you are on the upper end of M/L or Large, you might want to consider getting an XL or plus size costume and having it taken in where necessary. This option is recommended for gals who have a large bust or backside and want to be comfortable at the big party without worrying about wardrobe mishaps.

Certain costume styles can also be more accommodating to different body types. Some costumes feature lace-up, corset-style bodices that allow for adjustments, such as fairytale costumes or pirate costumes. These styles are a better choice for those who are between sizes and require the options of loosening the bodice or cinching it tight. Peasant tops are also a great option for busty women.

Insider tip #3: Spotting the Trends

Alright... it's mid-summer, you've got all your measurements, and you're ready to hop online and get your costume in plenty of time for Halloween. How do you know what the hot costumes are going to be this year? Well, here's a little peek behind the curtain to help you spot the trends.

Pinup army and sailor girl costumes are always hot, and usually the first to sell out. Each year, manufacturers create cuter styles to capitalize on this trend. You can go racy retro pinup, sexy and modern, and everything in between. Accessorizing these costumes is always fun, too. Big black stiletto heel boots and fishnets, anyone?

You can sometimes spot trends by watching the movies. For instance, Marie Antoinette-inspired costumes are consistently popular because it seems like there is always some movie out featuring fabulous French revolution-era dresses. Favorite styles include a bodice with classic d├ęcolletage and lush brocade fabrics shortened to a sexy mini-dress length. Matching shoes can be found from costume shoe brands such as Ellie Shoes and Leg Avenue Costume Shoes.

Also inspired by current film trends, Alice in Wonderland costumes are hot this year, including the Queen of Hearts, Mad Hatter, and of course Alice herself. New sexy variations on the classic Disney Alice in Wonderland characters are always coming out and they never go out of style.

Vampire costumes are hot again this year, thanks to the continuing stream of vampire books and movies in the popular culture. Some people say that zombies are the new vampires, though... so if you want to be on the cutting edge of that trend, you can take any character costume and "zombiefy" it. Zombie Little Red Riding Hood, Zombie pirate... you get the picture.

Nostalgia costumes are always a big hit, such as Rainbow Brite, Gem, Strawberry Shortcake, Princess Peach, Catwoman, and other familiar cartoon and video game characters from the eighties.

Also trending big the past couple of years are burlesque and showgirl costumes featuring lots of sexy bustles and bows and fringes. Can-Can dancers and Moulin Rouge-style costumes are also consistent good sellers. This style lends itself well to lots of fun accessorizing with fishnet stockings, glitter mini top hats, and opera-length satin gloves.

Other popular styles include geisha girl costumes, sexy stewardess costumes, pirate costumes, naughty nurse costumes, and witches. But the best costume for you is the one that makes you squeal with delight when you see it. Our advice is to go with your gut and have fun!

Insider tip #4: Accessorizing

Don't forget about necessary accessories for your costume. When shopping for your costume online, read the item description carefully to see what is included, because what you see in the picture might not be what you get. The hat, wand, stockings, sword, etc, might not be included. So make sure you order those additional items in plenty of time for Halloween too, because they sell out just as quickly as costumes. The last thing you want to have to do is dig through the left-over carnage at your local strip mall costume superstore on Halloween day looking for a pair of big glitter wings to go with your fairy costume. And you definitely don't want to be the one pirate at the party in tennis shoes.

We hope you find these Halloween costume shopping tips helpful. Whether you're looking for sexy adult Halloween costumes, costume shoes, Halloween accessories, sexy plus size Halloween costumes, or even costumes for your dog, visit www.babygirlboutique.com for all of your Halloween shopping needs! We carry all of the hottest new styles at affordable prices, and our friendly customer service is happy to help you put together the perfect costume for your Halloween event.

Happy hunting!