Get creative with a thrift-store Halloween costume.

click to enlarge PRETTY THINGS

I've never cared for off-the-rack Halloween costumes — not for adults, anyway. Expensive, ill-fitting, and worst of all, a total cop-out. DIY is just a lot more fun.

And it almost always means a trip to the thrift store for a little inspiration in the form of hideously outdated duds that were in questionable taste even in their day. Oversized plaidtastic men's sports jackets are the foundation upon which any number of Halloween get-ups can be constructed. Add, for instance, green tights and glittery eye make-up, spike your hair with egg whites and make a stegosaurus-looking tail from a big cardboard box, and presto, you're a lounge lizard. Ba-dum-dum.

Savers, the big thrift store on Cantrell in Riverdale, even does the work for you. They've got new and used off-the-rack costumes for the lazy and/or moneyed, but they've also got several displays where they've combined ready-made costume accessories with clothes from the regular racks to help you create clown, fairy, witch and pirate outfits. Or just browse the racks on your own — grab a plaid flannel shirt for $6 and go as Eddie Vedder, or — my personal favorite — a bright-purple-and-black gingham peplum-waist suit with leg-o'-mutton sleeves for $15, perfect for pretty much any female 1980s sitcom character.

Other goings-on in the retail world:

• Add Nia-Ja's to the growing list of local boutiques at Pleasant Ridge Town Center. This is a new one, not a transplant, and it's the baby of Erica Taylor (wife of Jermain). The store focuses on upscale women's clothing and accessories — “work to weekend,” Taylor said — with lines like BCBG Girls, Beyonce, Level 99, To the Max and Single, and sunglasses from Juicy Couture, Gucci and Armani. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. The name of the store (Ja is pronounced “Jay”) is taken from the names of Taylor's daughters.

• It's time again for the Arkansas Cancer Research Center's Partners Card fund-raiser. The $50 card buys you a 20 percent discount at a long list of local retailers (Yarn Mart, Stork Stop, Full Moon, Ann Taylor, Yves Delorme, Powder and Smoke, Elle, Fabrics Etc., Paul Bunyan, etc.) from Oct. 27 through Nov. 4. Many of the participating stores are selling the cards, or you can buy one online. The $50 price of the card plus a percentage of sales from the retailers go to the ACRC Auxiliary. For a complete list and more details, call 580-8670 or visit the web site, www.uams.edu/acrcpartnerscard.

• If you're out at Hillcrest Harvest Fest next weekend (Saturday, Oct. 20), stop by Box Turtle at 7 p.m. for a fashion show featuring local designers Erin Lorenzen, Korto Momolu, Crisp and Santoro and Augusta Fitzgerald.

• And if your guitar-hero fantasies have been cramped by your less-than-rock-star-size bank account, head over to Sigler Music soon. The store, located at Markham and Barrow, is going out of business, and just about everything is priced 10 percent above cost (close to 50 percent off). The doors will close for good Nov. 24.


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