The Hottest 2010 Halloween Costumes

What's the hottest Halloween costume this year? NPR's Michele Norris asks Andy Dallas, owner of Dallas and Company in Champaign, Ill. He'll tell us about Jersey Shore costumes, Tea Party member get-ups and more.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

As costumes go, fangs are pretty predictable. Vampires have been on the Halloween hit parade for decades. Every year, costumes provide a social barometer of sorts as they're often torn straight from the top headlines.

Halloweens past have produced everything from hanging chads to walking Hurricane Katrinas to armies of factory-issue Sarah Palins.

We were curious about this year's hot costumes. So we called Andy Dallas. He's the owner of a popular costume shop in Champaign, Illinois, called Dallas and Company Costumes and Magic. Welcome to the program.

Mr. ANDY DALLAS (Owner, Dallas and Company Costumes and Magic): Well, hi, it's nice to be here, and happy Halloween to everybody.

NORRIS: Thank you. Happy early Halloween to you. So what's flying off the shelves in there? What's hot this year?

Mr. DALLAS: Well, for kids, "Toy Story" is making a huge comeback. We're seeing people wanting to be Buzz Lightyear and Woody. It's very cool. On the other end, "Avatar" is one. "Jersey Shore" is another, tri-corner hats for the Tea Party. It's all kinds of things like that that make Halloween so special and magical.

NORRIS: "Jersey Shore?"

Mr. DALLAS: Yeah.

NORRIS: So people are dressing up as Snooki?

Mr. DALLAS: Absolutely. And who's the guy with the abs, that went to...

NORRIS: The Situation?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DALLAS: Yeah, The Situation.

NORRIS: So they strap on the muscles and then go out and pose?

Mr. DALLAS: Absolutely. We have all that stuff.

NORRIS: So how does one dress up as Snooki?

Mr. DALLAS: We have the wig, and we have the costume that she is known for, so, absolutely.

NORRIS: A certain enhanced body part, I imagine?

Mr. DALLAS: I would assume that that would probably be appropriate for some.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: So big hairdo, though, is essentially the...

Mr. DALLAS: Absolutely, and they have Snooki wigs that you can buy. But it's whatever's going on. One of my favorite things that's happened this year so far is we had three girls come in. They bought a pickaxe, you know, these toy pickaxes, and they bought hard hats with lights on them and a flag from Chile. And they became the survivors.

NORRIS: Chilean miners, aha.

Mr. DALLAS: Aha.

NORRIS: So when a big news story hits or a TV show becomes popular, or a movie blows up, do people in your business just sort of shift into high gear and try to figure out how to capitalize on that?

Mr. DALLAS: Well, we start actually buying in January. But as that happens, yes. We have the opportunity to turn on a dime. So if we need to get you know, there's a movie called "The Town," and it has a mask in it that is a nun mask. and that mask has been out for like six or seven years, but because it's in that movie, it's now becoming something that people have desire for.

NORRIS: I'm thinking of those children's costumes that we used to wear with the masks that were held on by that awful piece of plastic that would grab the back of your head. Do you remember that?

Mr. DALLAS: Absolutely. When I was a child, it was Woody Woodpecker and Casper the Ghost and Popeye.

I was talking to one of your staff, and they were telling me that they went as Wonder Woman in that one-piece suit with the little plastic mask. Ten years ago, I couldn't sell a costume to a girl that would show a shoulder. And now it's changed. Everybody wants to be sexy or really cute.

NORRIS: Let me ask you about that. Just when and how did Halloween become sort of a parade of strumpets? It seems like there's the sexy witch and the sexy nurse and all these costumes that are really very kind of va-va-voom.

Mr. DALLAS: When I first got in this business, in the mid-'70s, there were very few things for women to actually become. They were witches, or they were, you know, they were zombies. And all of a sudden, the mores changed, and it became easier for women to be accepted with that kind of garb.

NORRIS: And even reaching down into some of the younger ages, which makes people a little bit uncomfortable.

Mr. DALLAS: That's true. You know, I don't make those judgments. Little boys, they want to be heroes, and they want to be scary. Little girls want to be pretty. And that's the way children are, and that's what we find to be most effective in our business.

NORRIS: Andy Dallas owns the Dallas and Company Costumes and Magic Store in Champaign, Illinois. Thanks so much for talking to us.

Mr. DALLAS: Oh, what a pleasure. Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "Shining")

NORRIS: This is NPR.

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