by Matthew Murray and Anna Too

Ah, Halloween. The time of year where gaggles of girls gather around with cleavage on display like never before and guys cross-dress or look like nothing else but a mess. A recent trip to Party City proved this point almost too perfectly. Teeny boppers perusing the aisles and squealing at Playboy Bunny costumes surprisingly weren’t yelling with dismay, but rather with excitement and inspiration (3 of the 5 girls purchased the overly-revealing costumes that their parents certainly won’t approve of). The fact of the matter is that keeping it classy, while still grabbing attention, can be a daunting task for most, but there are ways to tackle the horrors of Halloween.

At press time, Halloween will technically be five days away, but for those who start the festivities early by throwing on their cat ears the minute Halloweekend commences, read as quickly as you can and rethink your strategy as if this were a game of Battleship. These days, the best way to strut your stuff on Halloween is to get creative. It isn’t the generic Lady Gaga costume —you know the one with the red hooded bodysuit —that impresses people. Rather, what matters is that you took time and effort to be the best damn Gaga you could possibly be, rivaled by only that of the Lady herself.

Moving on from all things Gaga, the first step in nixing the store-bought costume and concocting your own is Google image search. Find the pictures of the person or character you want to be and use that for inspiration. Then ravage through your closet to find anything and everything that will work with the costume. No matter what you choose to emulate, it’s likely you won’t be able to find identical items, but the picture should help you pinpoint the essence of the costume, narrowing down your choices of what exactly to wear. Then think about what you might still need and make the trek to Party City, photo in hand, to see if they have anything that will enhance your costume. If all else fails, or you are broke, Facebook ironically could save your life. Make a Facebook status asking if anyone has the certain items you’d need; you might be surprised by the responses you’ll get. I once asked for a vacuum on Facebook and had it in my hands eight minutes later.

After compiling items for your creative costume, consider the makeup to be the second most crucial part of your best Halloween ever. Youtube is the best source for makeup tutorials, with over 31, 800 videos relating to doing it yourself. Whether you have chosen to be the Bride of Dracula or a last-minute Zombie Warrior, the makeup will give your costume the pop it needs and the wow factor it deserves.

If you’re not interested in just mixing a costume together like a spooky cocktail, consider making your own. Stony Brook Senior Sofia Chernova took the DIY route last Halloween with her friends, each girl dressing as a Ninja Turtle in what proved to be a difficult, but great, success. She bought a green dress from American Apparel and visited Michael’s for the felt that she cut into geometric shapes and sewed onto the dress. It made for a costume that received more than a few compliments. “The hard part was to sew it because we had to with a needle and thread,” she tells me. “The rest wasn’t hard at all, though. We just had to look for cheap ways to do it, and it actually was a really fun thing to do with your friends. People also thought our costumes were incredible which might not have been the case had we bought the trashy Ninja Turtle costumes.” Making your own costume is easier than it sounds.

Last but not least, another way to shake things up on Halloween is to recycle last year’s costume. I take great pride in my tradition of being Batman every year since I was 13. If you choose this path, it is important to keep the costume looking fresh with the way you accessorize. I once wore the costume with a Louis Vuitton belt and metallic Nike dunks; another year I donned a black mask and puffy quilted bomber jacket with the suit; and another year I rocked the cape with gold cat-eye sunglasses. Making these little tweaks to the costume goes much farther than most people would think. If you do reuse your costume, add an element of surprise to it. If you were a sailor girl last year, maybe this year it is time to whip out that costume and take it in a different direction. A corpse sailor girl with fake blood and an eye patch would be splendid.

Creating your own costume DIY-style, choosing garments from your wardrobe and throwing it all together, or recycling and reinventing last year’s costume are all great ways to have a killer time on Halloween. But remember first and foremost, Halloween is about having fun. Wear what you want to wear and use this night to be the person you are or the person you want to be. A smile and a laugh can’t be purchased at Ricky’s, but they complete any costume you choose to wear. And that will be your best Halloween costume ever!