Beer Run: Halloween Edition

Published On October 24, 2011 | By Kate Magoc | Community
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Let’s face it, no one wants a cheap plastic Halloween costume made in China. You can get much more creative when you support local shops.  That’s why our Halloween Beer Run is all about where to find kick ass costumes without going corporate (the Occupy movement would be so proud)! So join us as we play Iron City Beer Fairy and wander around town to some local boo-tiques.
Eons is exactly what I imagine Anna Wintour’s closet looks like; an impeccably organized century of fashion.  Every decade is represented and sectioned off like the most unique department store.  There’s men’s, women’s and accessories up the wazoo.  Hats line the upper shelving and surrounding hooks while vintage jewelry glistens beneath glass countertops.

The shop has been around for 20 years and has since been supplied purely by the knowledgeable buying power of owner Richard Parsakian who plunders estate sales and the like with his impeccable taste for vintage fashion.  With an underlying green consciousness, Eons is a must shop year-round.  Tis the season, however, for costuming and they’ve got plenty to build with.

The sidewalk outside Hey Betty on Ellsworth Ave offered a boy scout’s uniform, a 70’s style patchwork leather jacket and a furry cape.  It was pretty apparent that the quaint establishment was prepped for the Halloween season.  Much like its Ellsworth neighbor, Eons, Hey Betty is reminiscent of the closets of fashion royalty.  A table took up the middle space and housed scads of jewelry within.  It was lined with a collection of men’s and women’s oxfords and a myriad of hats – fedoras and full-on feathered wide-brims.  Pieces worthy of a costume base – Geisha wig, an Elvis pants-suit, and a pair of thigh-high, hot-pink, nylon boots.
Gothic stylings could be hip year round, ya know, if you’re a pierced up fan of death-metal who prefers their lingerie exposed and in the form of a goth-chick corset.  Or, you can be a gothic character for Halloween and nab the corset, and maybe a set of metal claws to go with, at Slacker on East Carson St.  It’s not just a store to make your genuinely good-girl self wanna dye your hair black and throw it around to Slayer.  They also offer Obey Clothing, my fave music mag Fader, and a vast supply of things with which to fill up piercing holes.  So yeah, it’s got some scary Halloween costume offerings but it’s also very much about rock ‘n’ roll.
If you approach Halloween idealess and need to tap into a vein of slightly more packaged, put-together costumes, Spotlight is the joint.  They’re a full-fledged costume house that works year-round to provide costumes for theater companies and stage productions all over the country.  The store itself is like a mini-warehouse and cos-play wonderland.  Stacks of hats, walls of eyelashes, masks of every breed, Spotlight could probably help out on any quest for just the right such-in-such that completes a get-up for any holiday or rave or whatever.  Sweetheart, helpful owners with all their costuming know-how will assist and whether you’re trying to be scary or glam or just plain weird, they are definitely a one-stop shop.

I approached Yesterday’s News on East Carson street, laden with the case of Iron City in my arms and caught the vintage guru herself about to dash of for some lunch.  “I brought you beer,” I said timidly hoping that was enough of an offering for her to let me in and try on the cowboy boots I saw through the window.

“Aw, that’s sweet of you,” she responded as she took the key out of the door and held it open for me. This wasn’t my first time at Yesterday’s News, but every time you go it might as well be another store.  The constant flux of her stock allows for a freshness and uniqueness perfect for my kind of fickle fashion tastes.  While most of the clothing is stuff I’d use to style for the everyday, there’s plenty of Halloween costume potential there as well.  Word to the wise: if you see something dope, grab it, don’t let the speed of vintage fashion let it slip away.
I parked, illegally, in an alleyway of the Strip District and made my way around the corner to the costume emporium that I’ve always wanted to explore but never really took the time.  Costume World was bustling, just like the rest of the neighborhood but I quickly located a costumed employee.  He wore a Viking uniform and spectacles that didn’t quite fit his silly get-up and when I put the Iron City down on the countertop he thanked me in a joke-y way, thinking people don’t randomly give out beer.  Oh, yes we do.  Once I established the fact that the Iron City was indeed a gift, he and the Sugar Daddy of the store expressed their appreciation by posing with the case in their kitschy get-up.

I entered Zenith after driving around the block in search of some elusive Southside parking and felt like I had stepped into a scene out of Alice in Wonderland.  Think dinner table in the Tim Burton version.  Alice’s, ahem, Zenith’s closet space was filled with sexy vintage silk slips, weighty sequined tops, and an expansive glass counter full of costume jewelry.  Scarves rested across lamp shades that flanked ornate couches positioned invitingly and with slight abandon throughout the store space.  While a lot of the place seemed fit for a bohemian princess, there were aspects of it that my grandpa would love; a Steelers shrine sat off to one side, complete with a kneeler that likely came from one of Pittsburgh’s many old churches.  The best part about Zenith was the intoxicating smells emanating from the kitchen.  Go to shop, stay for the food.

Hipsters, they’re everywhere.  Hate them or love them, they’ve got some style and a lot of that style was most likely bought thrift at a store called Avalon which actually began as a costume store and has since morphed into a staple for hip-as-shit fashion sensibilities.  Located in Squirrel Hill, it’s wedged beside a record store which goes right along with the reuse/resell ideology.    Much like Yesterday’s News, you’ve gotta jump on the super unique pieces you find there because they will go fast.  The thrifting is top notch but they’re selection of silly costume pieces is right up there with Spotlight’s.

Specter Studios, a treasure of Pittsburgh’s George A. Romero costuming backbone, offers handmade, artist designed masks and costume sets. Unlike the prepackaged costumes of some Halloween stores – you know, the skanky nurse, the skanky witch, the skanky fill-in-the-blank – Specter’s costumes are treated with the artistry of a fashion line but packaged in a way that allows a wearer to make it their own.  The staff consists of trained artists who come from a myriad of creative backgrounds, everyone of them bring a level of quality and expertise you won’t be able to find at any other costume establishment.

Eanna Holton, Specter’s creative director, called it a fantasy factory. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?  “Everyday is a fantasy, everyday is Halloween.  That’s been my dream job ever since I was a little girl,” she says of her duties and position as a player in the dream team.  They do custom work and have fresh ideas made into realities on the regular.  Got a costume dream?  No doubt they can make it a reality.

Highway Robbery, a new player to the thrifting scene in Pittsburgh, began with the DIY mentality and fervor that goes into making a stellar costume; they’ve got an Etsy store and now an actual storefront.  The goods they offer have the same hipness of Avalon and the aura of the store plays with the same sort of charm that a small chic boutique offers.  It’s clean and spacious, trendy and vogue.  Check them out for more fashion offerings or for more Halloween inspiration.

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