Superlist no. 809

Every day is Halloween
Seven places to rent a great costume any day of the year.

By Maya Melenchuk

THERE'S NO NEED to wait for Oct. 31 to let your chameleonic urges take shape. Check out these year-round costume outfitters in the Bay Area that are always ready to play fairy godmother, or at least dress you up like one.

The world is a stage and you're the star with the help of the costumes at American Conservatory Theater. As long as they're not being used in a production, the period-style garments are available for rental. Rent a fully accessorized costume, complete with shoes, for one week for $100 (including dry-cleaning.) By appointment only, S.F. (415) 439-2379.

You won't need a time machine if you go to CostumeParty! for an authentic retro ensemble. You won't find bunny rabbit or Santa Claus costumes here, but you can walk out looking like you're from 1975, 1965, or 1955. Rentals are on a nightly basis, and prices vary. Its large selection of hats, wigs, jewelry, and accessories is also available for sale. 1058 Hyde, S.F. (415) 885-3377.

Costumes on Haight is jam-packed with costumes, accessories, and props, and it manages to cover the entire spectrum of clever disguises. Its collection of vintage clothing is also available for rental; three days as Bonnie or Clyde can range from $15 to $200. 735 Haight, S.F. (415) 621-1356.

Specializing in the abnormal for more than 30 years, House of Magic is the place to go for accessories, props, and unusual costumes. No other place can brag about having shelves stocked with 250 hats, including 50 hair hats, every type of creative facial hair imaginable, and more than 180 wigs. Manager Enzo Greco claims the store can turn you into anything from a giant penis to a ventriloquist's dummy. "We're famous for bad taste," he boasts. 2025 Chestnut, S.F. (415) 346-2218.

A thousand and one Arabian nights come to life at Magana's Bazaar Boutique, where one can rent handmade imported Middle Eastern, Egyptian, and Moroccan costumes. Magana's filmy skirts, jeweled tops, headdresses, and veils transform women into Middle Eastern goddesses, while men are sure to find the perfect caftan robes and turbans for any occasion. The staff also gives lessons in getting into these timeless and elaborate costumes. Daily rentals range from $35 to $75 for a complete ensemble with jewelry and accessories. 730 Euclid, S.F. (415) 387-6833.

A veritable treasure chest of decadence, Samba do Coração Costumes is a specialty shop owned and operated by costume designer Mary Dollar. With a Brazilian Carnaval emphasis, Dollar outfits women in sequined skirts and bras with feather trim, completed with boas, satin gloves, and jewelry. Men will find a large selection of satin pants and feather headpieces to match. Rentals range from $40 to $150 for four days, and masks are sold for $5 to $30. By appointment only, S.F. (415) 826-2588.

Stagecraft Studios has been in the costume business since the Roaring Twenties, and it has the authentic gangster and flapper apparel to prove it. Many of its 13,000 costumes are the handiwork of its employees throughout the years. Stagecraft claims to have "everything," which is guaranteed by a promise to custom create or special order anything not already in its collection. Two-night rentals range from $59 to $69. 1854 Alcatraz, Oakl. (510) 653-4424.