Chicago Costume has been outfitting Chicago in drop dead detailed costumes for nearly 40 years and not just for Halloween. Founded by Mary Hickey Panayotou who was custom designing rental costumes from her home, the local store on Fullerton was born when customers clamored for more accessories, makeup, wigs and full get-ups. Mary’s son, Courtland Hickey, and other family members and friends man the shops to help costume and decorate theaters, locally shot films, corporate events and meetings, museums, PR companies, restaurants and bars for all kinds of looks. The shop gathers inspiration on Pinterest and offers boards for makeup, house decorating and party ideas. 
(Photo Credit: Chicago Costume's Facebook)

(Photo Credit: Chicago Costume’s Facebook)

Courtland Hickey
Chicago Costume
4727 West Montrose Ave
Chicago, IL 60641
(773) 282-1264

Courtland Hickey, owner of Chicago Costume, has rifled through the more than one million items in stock and jotted down what customers are searching for to make their Halloween house stand out from the rest. By the way, Chicago Costume boasts 30,000 costumes and 10,000 rentals. If you’re looking for home decor, he suggests visiting the Montrose Ave. location rather than Lincoln Park.

“We see the trend going more to do-it-yourself and Pinterest inspirations, so we have some great decor, props and accessories to work with and build upon,” Hickey says. Believe it or not, the acrylic spiders webs are still selling like hotcakes. “In terms of urban decorating for apartments and townhouses, that usually includes lots of spiderwebs and spiders. The simple acrylic spiderweb in white is a staple for doors, fences and front entryways because it stretches easily to fit in almost any shape and direction. A new spiderweb that’s cool is a gigantic one that can be hung from the front of a house to its front yard like this one.

Is “Horror” The Only Way To Go? 

“No, humor is another great direction that has been trending up the past few years,” the shop owner says. “Scary is always classic and fun — dark and dusty skeletons and crows mixed with spiderwebs. But as a new parent, I find that scary isn’t always family-friendly for the little ones, so silly humorous decorations are another good direction for people looking to do something different. A witch or spiders can still be used, but with brighter colors — oranges, purples and greens to liven it up. Also, pumpkin carving has risen to an new art form, and carving pumpkins is definitely a way to add character to your home and involve the whole family.”

New Indoor And Outdoor Items And Ideas For This Season 

“Outdoors, we still love seeing the big spiderwebs and giant spiders or a vignette of classic skeletons just sitting on your front porch set. Indoors, more customers are having Halloween dinner parties, so they are taking the fake heart, fingers and brain props and setting them up with the cheese plates for a scary scene.”

Related: Best Boutique Decor Shops In Chicago

Clever Ideas Learned From Customers

Hickey acknowledges that there are a ton of  cool ideas staff has seen from  customers over the years and they all seem to love the detail and artistry of pumpkin decor. “One idea that we love is pumpkin decorating because carving is always a fun pastime — but we have seen painted pumpkins, glittered pumpkins and decoupaged pumpkins and they have a classy look for indoor use.”

Ideas For Specific Rooms In Your House

“In the foyer, hang witches hats with clear string from the ceiling to give a floating effect, place larger decorated pumpkins on the floor and prop a fake crow on top. For the dining room, group painted/decorated pumpkins, set up a ghoulish appetizer table using bloody organs, eyeballs and fingers, spooky candelabras and sit a skeleton in a chair or set up as a standing ‘butler.’ In the bathroom hang a bloody shower curtain and fake bloody prints on the mirror or window.”

Related: Best DIY Pottery In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at