2012 Halloween Costume Guide

After a little shopping trip to a local seasonal Halloween store, the big boxes and talking to costume experts, I'm sharing what’s hot for Halloween 2012.

Get your spirit gum, your fake muscles and your rocker wig now — before the rush. 

While shopping the local seasonal Halloween store, Winkie's in Whitefish Bay, the big boxes and talking with the costume experts, I gathered these tips for you to be ahead of the curve (or scythe — Grim Reaper is back) this season.

Tips from the experts:

Zachary Bartz, costume expert at Bartz’s Party Store, has three tips:

“Go to a store and look at things, pick them up, imagine what you're doing that day or party. It’s really an interesting piece of fun and self-discovery." If you're like me, you might get a totally new idea and it isn't something in a bag, but you found a great accessory to make it work. 

"Keep an open mind when you go to the store. If you come here intending to get the blind ref costume (which is really popular all football season or even in bars, accompanied by challenge flags and other accessories), you might see something you had no idea existed."

"Bring someone with you — you will want to share this, or you will kind of end up on the phone trying to get someone’s input who isn’t seeing what you’re seeing, especially if you're going together." In my own experience, if it is a child, bring that child, or he/she may end up wearing what's three sizes too old in the closet that day.

Popular store items for 2012

All ages: Avengers, Batman, Spiderman, Captain America, Mario

Bartz’s and Halloween Extreme all listed Avengers costumes as number one this year.

“They work well for groups because there are a lot of them to choose from,” said Bartz. "Batman, Captain America and Spiderman are also top sellers for all ages.” 

“We’re seeing cartoons being made new, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, only for women, also Ghostbusters, Freddy, Jason. Then there are also He-Man, Thundercats and Care Bear costumes that get a great reaction when people see them in the store,” said Bartz.

Don’t wait to get the full body costume if you’re going for a big look. Avengers, Angry Birds, Mutant Ninja Turtles for women, and Batman are going quickly.

For adults: Blind ref, mangled zombies, current political/news story items

Zombies: Heather Gomez at Halloween Extreme said zombies are great for anyone putting a costume together — you can just use your own clothes or stop at Goodwill, and then focus on the makeup.

Bartz said, “Zombies should get a prosthetic piece like the mangled jaw and attach with spirit gum, and scars for the neck and face. We have black blood capsules instead of red this year to really dead yourself up. Black out an eye. The most popular Zombie look ties to the new season of Walking Dead Season 3 coming out on AMC. Vampires are taking a back seat, though Edward is back in November.” 

There are pub crawls featuring zombies that may warrant a decent go-to zombie costume. 

For couples: Hippies are easy costume ideas, but the 80’s “are the new sock hop standard” with fishnet gloves, guys wearing hair band wigs, spiked punk accessories, and neon colors. Inanimate objects like ketchup and mustard are “more fun to wear somewhere unexpected, like the game,” said Bartz. Pirates are timeless and have many combinations. Halloween Extreme says their masquerade ball masks are going quickly.

For kids: Angry Birds, Spiderman, princesses, ninjas, pirates are big, as are professions like doctors and construction workers for younger children.

“Angry Birds is crazy nuts,” said Bartz. 

He also added some insider info.

"A new mashup based on a deal signed with Star Wars to be released Nov. 8 meshes R2D2, Princess Leia, Darth and Storm Troopers with Angry Birds and Pigs — that would be an awesome costume," he said.

"Another idea for parents looking for 'healthy play' kinds of costumes," said Winkie's owner Beth Stuhlmacher, "are the Melissa and Doug dressup costumes. It's a really positive kind of play, we're on our third order of these that include doctor, knight, fairy, train engineer, stylist, waitress, veterinarian, chef, construction worker and more."

Regular price for the costumes (suggested ages 3-6+) is $29.99 but for October, some profession-themed items are all 20 percent off.

"We also have fun accessories for kids like wigs, capes, crowns, accessories, makeup, and haircolor," she said.

Makeup is available and encouraged in hypoallergenic forms and care should be taken to avoid the lead-based makeup. Local Shorewood makeup artist for children, Michelle Fisher of Milestones, uses Caran d'Ache Neocolors (at Artist & Display in Milwaukee).

"They are a water-soluble crayon, which I found to be easy to use, gentle and non-irritating to sensitive skin, easy to wash off with soap and water, and safe enough to sleep in overnight without transferring to pillows, something kids like to do," she said. "I especially like that you can touch it after it is dry and it doesn't smear.”

Bartz Senior, Don, suggests getting enough of the white to complete a look, because it's the number one last-minute errand for Halloween revelers.

Other makeup sticks and brushable kits are available at Bartz’s and Winkie's, and three-pot combos for anything from clowns, zombies or giraffes are about $4.99. Simple accessories like headband/tail kits for coordinated animals are available and offer maximum costume flexibility with wavering weather or mood for people of any age.


Best fit for guys: Dye sublimated lifelike but lightweight masks of political candidates and Aaron Rodgers

“Kind of great to wear with just a jersey, then at a pub crawl or even at the game, you can lift it up easily to drink or eat without the heavy latex mask,” Bartz said.

Moustaches are still popular, as are hats and wigs. Bartz has an Angry Bird party favor set of three eyebrow and three moustaches for $7.69 that could make three birds and three pigs in a pinch. Many stores have endless facial hair choices.

So, this year, grab a friend and have fun trying on these ideas and upload a picture of your Halloween 2012 costumes to this article.

Mitchell Molbeck October 16, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Thanks for all the information on all of the new Halloween costumes and where to get them! I'm thinking about being an agry bird this year!
John Jansky November 27, 2012 at 08:41 PM
That's a stupid costume. Are you seven dude?


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