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Friday, May 24, 2024

This Halloween, adults will most likely be seen wearing red sweaters, political masks and gorilla costumes, though not necessarily all at the same time.

The types of attire expected to thrill costume customers this year are political, topical and nostalgic costumes, Wyatt Edwards, an inbound marketing specialist for, wrote in an email.

He said the website gets much of its information about prospective costumes from past and present sales numbers, while also remaining in tune with what people are talking about online.

“When it comes to current events and pop culture, it’s all about timing,” Edwards said.

He said if a trend starts too late to be designed and manufactured into a bona fide costume, then these trends end up being do-it-yourself projects.

For Nava Ottenberg, the owner and operator of Persona Vintage Clothing and Costumes, located downtown at 201 SE Second Place, helping customers perfect their DIY Halloween costumes has been one component of her small business.

For the past 36 years, Ottenberg has moved her business to several locations before settling in Gainesville for the past decade.

She said local costume themes that haven’t seemed to go away have been ’70s disco, pirates, gangsters and Victorian garb.

Ottenberg said Persona offers real, stand-alone pieces like platform shoes, bell-bottoms, polyester shirts, velvety jackets and real corsets. She said pop-up Halloween shops offer cheaply made alternatives at astronomical prices when compared with her stock.

“These are unique pieces; these are not things you would find easily,” Ottenberg said. “They’re the real materials, the real deal.”

She said people have even come into the shop looking for capes and other pieces of clothing to put together unique costumes for popular television shows like “Game of Thrones.”

Back online, trends like Ken Bone, the red, sweater wearing messiah of the second presidential debate; Harambe, the late western lowland gorilla resurrected to an internet meme; and “Stranger Things,” the Netflix series in which 11 is more than just a number, will be made into costumes by people using the eclectic selection of pieces.

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“DIY costumes are typically an adult thing, because adults will put the time into making a costume they can’t purchase,” Edwards said.

Ottenberg said around Halloween, customers come into Persona looking for specific items. She said usually, they’ll have exhausted the pop-ups or online stores and need a fresh perspective. Ottenberg said she thinks more people should consciously spend locally. She said it’s cheaper, and you get more personalized service.

“If you’re one tad more creative, you’ll spend some time looking,” she said.

Edwards said wants to help customers achieve their DIY goals, too. The website has put out some guides on how to achieve select looks. For a Ken Bone look, someone might need a red sweater, glasses, khaki pants and a disposable camera. He said the website hasn’t put out a Harambe DIY guide because it feels like it would be in poor taste to do so.

Nostalgia has been an ever-present feeling among people this year. Halloween costumes based off of television or movie characters usually come from the 1980s and 1990s. Based on the sales numbers, Wyatt said characters from the “Ace Ventura” and “Goonies” movies are coming to the forefront this season.

“As much as we say we hate it, our culture is all about nostalgia right now,” he said.

For, the peak time to purchase costumes is right now, he said. Most people shop for their costumes a couple weeks before Halloween, fewer people will shop one week before the holiday and “the extreme procrastinators” take what they can find Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, he said.

This Halloween will probably be the last for Persona, Ottenberg said. Between the pressure of national chains siphoning business and the fact that she is retiring, she said the close has been in the works for a while now.

Above all else, Ottenberg said she believes the most important thing about Halloween costumes is finding out what looks good on you and feeling comfortable dressing up.

“It’s not what you want to be; it’s what you want to look like,” she said.

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