When it comes to costume shops, the quality of the shop is almost entirely based on what type of costume shoppers are looking for.
Whether it’s an exact replica of a 1500’s buccaneer with many expensive accessories or just a simple superhero costume made from cheap materials, you can almost always find what you need.
So which shop should you go to for your perfect costume?
To answer this question, my brother Dylan, mother Kristin and I visited three of the most popular local costume shops – Evangeline’s, Decades and Spirit Halloween – in the middle of their busiest time of the year: Halloween.
Evangeline’s Costume Mansion (113 K St.)
Walking into Evangeline’s felt like being transported back in time to the days of early Sacramento. Located right in the middle of Old Sac, Evangeline’s has been both a costume shop and a toys-and-games store since 1974.
Evangeline’s store building was built in 1852. The Lady Adams Building(named after a ship) is the oldest building still standing in Old Sacramento.
Looking on the website, I found out that before Evangeline’s was a costume shop it was a merchant shop, a brothel and then a bank-themed restaurant. In 1974, the building was bought by Dorothea Evangeline Chaussé and became the costume and game shop that we know today.
The atmosphere of Evangeline’s changes depending on the room. Each room has its own theme: the gothic chamber, the lab, the jungle, the saloon, the Renaissance room, the storybook land, the disco and the circus.
The gothic chamber has dark clothing items like boots and tights. The storybook room is more uplifting with its colorful dresses and tiaras.
But one of the best rooms is the Renaissance room. It has costumes and accessories for any kind of pirate costume. There is a huge glass case that is lined with pirate weapons. Covering the walls are medieval dresses and armor for knight costumes.
However, most of these costumes lack the antique feel of an exact replica. There is definitely a lack of specific detail in these costumes so I would not recommend these to the seventh graders for the Renaissance Faire.
In the saloon room cowboy hats and leather line the walls. This room also has a steampunk section. Steampunk is a type of science fiction usually set in the Victorian Age. It includes the past and the future through technology and clothing. The room features accessories like magnifying glass leather goggles, pipe watches and Victorian earrings.
The most impressive and detailed sections are the walls of masks and wigs. They have every mask from Yoda to Joker to Donald Trump.
The only costume category that Evangeline’s lacks is horror. Though they do have some spooky outfits, most of them aren’t very detailed and it is by far the smallest theme.
On average the costumes at Evangeline’s Costume Mansion are $25-$75. The service was adequate. The people would tell us where to go but not walk us there. There are no dressing rooms, so buying the right size is kind of a wild guess.
Decades (1814 Del Paso Blvd.)
Decades doesn’t have the same great location and atmosphere as Evangeline’s.
The off-white painted building and small sign make it look like a low-budget costume shop passed down from generation to generation, barely paying the rent each month. However, inside Decades was nothing like I expected. I was immediately greeted by the owner, James Hall, who gave us a sense of hospitality that we never felt at Evangeline’s.
Unlike Evangeline’s, where there are rooms for the different themes, at Decades, there are a dozen or so long racks of costumes hanging all together. At the register there is a large glass case containing every costume accessory imaginable.
Also unlike Evangeline’s, Decades prides itself on having unique and detailed costumes with fine materials.
If you are looking for a Renaissance costume, Decades is where you need to go. They have rows and rows of finely stitched, realistic-looking costumes for men and women.
Or if you want high-quality Victorian, pirate, wizard or superhero costumes, this is the place for you.
Unfortunately, Decades (compared to Evangeline’s) lacks an immense amount of scary costumes, wigs and masks.
Another difference is that almost all of the costumes at Decades are rented instead of bought. The average cost for a three-day rental is $25-$45. (Of course, James Hall said buying these costumes would cost $800- $2,000!)
Local moviemakers, as well as buyers looking for that last touch on their cosplay, come to Decades for their costumes and accessories.
Spirit Halloween (2555 Fair Oaks Blvd.)
Leaving Decades feeling somewhat satisfied, I was on to Spirit Halloween. Located in Loehmann’s Plaza, this costume shop is by far the closest to the school. But from only the outside I could already tell that I liked the atmosphere more at Evangeline’s.
Spirit feels like a surplus costume store with the plastic packaged costumes, the breakable accessories and the scary Halloween animatronics. Whether it’s werewolves, witches or vampires, they are simply unpleasant to look at.
While browsing the costumes, I noticed that a father had put his toddler son face-to-face with one of the barking and moving werewolves. The terrified boy began to cry, and his mother soon picked him up and shook her head.
“I know. I’m mean,” the dad said with a smirk.
This story perfectly describes Spirit Halloween, which is full of violent and scary costumes. If you are looking for a costume to frighten the living daylights out of your mother, this is the place to get it.
Besides the horror costumes, the other two main themes are superheroes and random, pop-culture-themed children’s costumes, including “Minions,” “Mario and Luigi,” “Star Wars,” etc.
Spirit Halloween is a costume store mainly for children. Costume prices range from $25-$60. The service was not particularly helpful; I had to ask an employee multiple times where the superhero costumes were.
So which shop should you go to? Again, it depends on what you’re looking for.
In an Oct. 18 Octagon poll, 60 of 105 high-school students said that they weren’t going to dress up at all for Halloween. And 22 of the 50 who were dressing up said they planned to make their costumes themselves.
Eight got their costume at Spirit Halloween, the most for any shop.
However, not one student in the high school planned to shop at Decades. That’s disappointing but not unexpected. Most students either throw their costumes together at the last moment or buy a costume that correlates with a specific movie or game. Decades isn’t that type of shop.