NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- What will I be for Halloween? That's the question more than 68 million Americans are asking themselves as they prepare for the annual masquerade.
But Halloween isn't just about dressing up; it's about dressing up the right way, in a costume that's both original and eye-catching. And U.S. shoppers are willing to spend an estimated $2.5 billion to accomplish that, an average of $42.50 per outfit.
Adults will spend the most, at $1.2 billion, while shelling out $950 million on their children and $350 million on pets, according to the National Retail Federation's annual Halloween Consumer Top Costumes Survey.
"Hollywood and pop culture both have a tremendous impact on how adults and their children decide to dress the part each Halloween, and it's evident some of the biggest newsmakers of the year will be out in full force this fall," said federation CEO Matthew Shay.
Playing dress-up once a year allows people to use the often untapped, sillier side of their brains, taking on the personas of celebrities they either love or loathe. It's why you see people walking the streets of New York once a year dressed as Superman or, in 2008, as Sarah Palin, complete with the signature glasses.
"Most of our shoppers are unique; they don't want to do what everyone else is doing," said Naika Cadet, Abracadabra NYC's general and marketing manager. "They like to think outside the box."
Abracadabra, located in the heart of New York, sells costumes, masks, and props year-round, and Cadet said customers have already started looking, spending an average of $100 a costume in her store.
Many adults go for a conventional favorite -- the witch, which topped the retail group's list for the 11th year in a row, followed by animal and Batman character costumes. Kids wanted to be princesses first, followed by Batman or one of the other DC Comics or Marvel superheroes. Spiderman usually does well, for instance, as do Captain America and Wonder Woman.
And you'll see furrier family members dressed as pumpkins, hot dogs, or once again, Batman, the survey indicated. Here's a look at how you might look in some of the most popular outfits -- and a few other ideas to help you stand out from the crowd.
1.Political Characters - Donald Trump
Don't be surprised if you see trick-or-treaters walking around saying, "Let's make America great again," while wearing Donald Trump wigs, snarling, and throwing insults at their fellow candy seekers. And they may not all be men. As the 2016 presidential campaign picks up steam, more Americans are planning to disguise themselves as political figures, a category that tied for 10th place in the the federation's annual costume list.
If you're not sure where to get the Trump look, since Macy's decided to dump his signature line, try online lingerie and costume shop Yandy.com. It's come up with some improvements, including a "sexy" female Donald Trump costume, the "Donna T. Rumpshaker," which includes a red tie, a white sleeveless collared shirt, and a royal blue faux blazer with matching "booty shorts," all for $69.95.
To complete the look, you can buy a "Making America Great Hat" for $7.95 or the "Comb Over Politician Wig" for $9.95.
And remember, if you choose something else, the Donald might start calling you a "loser."
Find Donald Trump costumes on Amazon here.
2. Political Characters - President Barack Obama
Can President Obama get a break? Maybe not a break from his job, but a break from being a Halloween character? Being the face of the nation for almost eight years has been a tough job, and to add insult to injury, many Halloween copycats get the perks without the work.
They'll simply throw on this "Barack Obama Full Face Vinyl Mask" and say they're ready to party.
While more than half a million Americans say they'll dress up as a political character this year, not all of them will be no-drama Obamas. (See Donald Trump, above).
The prices for the president's vinyl mask vary, so you may want to search around for the best price. Wal-Mart has a variety of them, and this one sells for $19.95.
Find President Obama costumes on Amazon here.
3.Minion Movie Character
If you want to fall in line with the minions of Despicable Me's Gru, this is your chance. Minions made the list of most-popular costumes for adults, children, and pets, with enough yellow that you might get mistaken for SpongeBob SquarePants or Sesame Street's Big Bird.
Dave, the minion pictured above, may be among the best looking of his crew: he's skinny, his hair is combed and he has the full complement of eyes. Party City has Minion costumes on sale for women, children, and pets for as low as $19.99. The costume here labeled "Despicable Me 2 Dave Minion Adult Foam Costume" is priced at $29.99.
Find Despicable Me Minion costumes on Amazon here.
4. Star Wars Character - Yoda
If you want to become a Star Wars character, either "do, or do not," as Yoda said. "There is no try." He probably knew what he was talking about, since the Force was his ally, "and a powerful ally it is." Apparently, it will also be the ally of lots of trick-or-treaters this year: Star Wars characters ranked fifth on the federation's annual survey.
Over 1.4 million people will use Star Wars as their theme, and this famous Jedi is likely to be among the most popular of the costumes they choose. On Halloweencostumes.com, this Yoda costume, which includes the mask, tan hooded robe, and a jumpsuit, sells for $44.99. To make the outfit more authentic, you can purchase latex Yoda hands for $24.99 or a Jedi Lightsaber for $12.99.
5. Star Wars Character - Female Stormtrooper
Female Star Wars fans probably think it's about time they get to dress up as someone besides Princess Leia; after all, her signature ear-muff hairstyle was dated even before the 1970s.
J.J. Abrams' upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to be released in December, will feature the franchise's first female stormtrooper, and accompanying Halloween outfits will let women join the Imperial Forces! The "Female Stormtrooper Costume" above sells on Halloweencostumes.com for $64.99 and includes the jumpsuit, belt and two-piece helmet. The company also offers to rent the costume for $32.49, or lets buyers trade it in afterward for a gift card worth about $12.04.
Find female Stormtrooper costumes on Amazon here.
6. Animal - Cat
How common is the cat costume? Nearly 2.4 million people will become animals this Halloween, ranking the outfit No. 2 on the federation's annual costume list.
If that's what you want -- and if the cat is your animal of choice -- then Etsy has some creative and cheap ideas to set you apart from the crowd. Through an Etsy shop called Wintercroft, you can download the instructions and templates to create your own "cat" mask, like the one you see above. It was available for $7 in early October.
Using recycled cardboard, you can decorate the mask however you like, and it'll take only three hours to assemble. Or so the website says. Actual user results may vary.
Find cat costumes on Amazon here.
7. Animal - Fish
So there aren't many fish costumes swimming around during Halloween, unless you count Nemo. That means the odds are good the one above will make people stop in their tracks.
Through Etsy's Wintercroft, you can make this detailed fish head mask complete with a body for a price tag, in early October, of $8.55. The price includes detailed instructions and templates, but the website warns that due to the intricacies of the tail, this mask could take between three to six hours to complete. Again, actual user results ... well, you know.
Find fish costumes on Amazon here.
8. Batman Character
Among the most popular costumes this year -- for adults, kids and yes, pets -- are Batman characters, coinciding with the early 2016 release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, in which Ben Affleck takes over the role of the Caped Crusader, joined by Henry Cavill as Superman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
This "Brave and Bold Batman Costume" comes with a detailed muscle jumpsuit with boot tops, a Batman headpiece, cape, and belt. Party City sells the outfit for $49.99.
Batman Character - Batgirl
Women can help to save the world, too. But becoming Batgirl may cost a pretty penny. Party City sells this "Women's Batman Classic 1966 Series, Grand Heritage, Batgirl Costume" seen above for $134.99, which includes spiked gloves, eye mask, bat-ear headpiece, utility belt, cape, and a one-piece logo-embellished jumpsuit.
On the upside, you won't need Manolo Blahniks.
Hopefully, most grooms don't feel like zombies when they're standing at the alter waiting for their brides -- unless, maybe, they're getting married on Halloween. If that's the case, the "Mens Zombie Groom Costume" above is featured on buycostumes.com for $54.99. It's one of the many variations you'll see this year, since zombies ranked fourth on the federation's list. Nearly 2 million people plan to dress up as a walking corpse this Halloween.
And since this costume includes a jacket, dickie, and bow tie, maybe your teenager can use it again for prom.
Find zombie costumes on Amazon here.
If Batman or Batgirl don't appeal to you, why not try a different superhero? You'll be in good company: About 1 million Americans will be fantasizing about having a superpower and donning a costume to match, placing the category at No. 8 on the federation's costume list.
Think it's an unrealistic transformation? Even Captain America, shown above, started off as 98-pound weakling Steve Rogers, not even strong enough to pass an Army physical in World War II until he took the "Super Soldier Serum."
His character got another shot in the arm in May, with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which also featured characters like Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Ultron and Nick Fury.
This "Captain America Muscle Costume Classic" will have you looking as ripped as the revamped Rogers with its muscle-molded torso and arms. Including jumpsuit, utility belt and a fabric hood, it's available at Party City for $49.99.
Instead of a wicked witch, why not trying being a good one this Halloween season? As Glinda the Good, one of the most powerful witches in L. Frank Baum's mythical land of Oz, you might not be able to conjure candy from thin air, but you'll still get plenty of it if you go door-to-door.
Along with being one of the most powerful characters in Oz, Glinda is also one of the most recognizable, thanks to Billie Burke, who played the role alongside Judy Garland as Dorothy in 1939's The Wizard of Oz, and Kristin Chenoweth, who brought her back to life in Broadway's Wicked. And even more recently, Michelle Williams, who played the character in 2013's Oz the Great and Powerful.
This "Wizard of Oz Deluxe Glinda the Good Witch Adult Costume" sells for $44.99 on Buycostumes.com and includes the crown and silver butterfly-accented dress. The wand and wig are sold separately.
12. Disney Character
Where can a good costume take you? As Buzz Lightyear would say, "to infinity and beyond!"
Tied for No. 13 on the federation's survey, Disney-character costumes are the preferred choice for over half a million Americans this Halloween. This "Adult Toy Story Buzz Lightyear Costume Deluxe" sells for $74.99 at Party City, and it includes a jumpsuit, hood, gloves, boot covers, and, best of all, light-up wings.
Lastly, pirate garb ranked sixth in the survey, with almost 1.4 million trick-or-treaters saying this is their costume of choice. The "Castaway Pirate Costume" sells at Party City for $49.99, and gives the traditional outfit a "flirty" look.
It includes the dress, hat, and sleevelets. Maybe it's the fishnet stockings that make it look so much more enticing than Captain Jack Sparrow's wardrobe?
Find pirate costumes on Amazon here.
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