The vampire. Dark, mysterious, and a staple of Halloween lore. The character has been portrayed as a hero (Blade), warrior (Selene), comic (Barnabas), romantic (Adam & Eve), iconic (Dracula), sexy (Lestat & Louis), and terrifying (Count Orlok).
The classic vampire is a personal favorite when it comes to costuming. I love the traditional portrayal of the creature in a Transylvania castle over modern settings, and I lean more Dracula than Seline, opting for capes over latex and leather.
I have several vampire-worthy capes in our collection, but one set is near and dear to my heart due to its quality and where it was acquired.
In our first few years of hosting Halloween parties, we lived in a town with a costume rental shop, Woods ‘N Woods.
Vivian Woods rocked brilliant blue eye shadow, big hair, and an even bigger personality. She and her husband, Barney, opened the shop in 1978. It had a small footprint and was tucked behind another business they operated. As a result, the shop was crammed from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Costumes, organized by theme, were hung high and low on rods along the walls with matching accessories bagged and tagged beneath. Mascot heads rested on shelves near the ceiling while wigs, hats, footwear, and gloves were tucked into cabinets and cubbies. The shop was stuffed to the gills, but Vivian knew every piece and where to find it.
And, even though I was making my own costume pieces, I still could find an excuse to visit Vivian and rent a unique accessory to add to my costume.
In 1998, we moved an hour away, but when the next Halloween season rolled around, I went to see Vivian in search of the perfect pieces for our vampire costumes.
I explained what I was looking for, and Vivian went straight to the cape section. Tightly packed is an understatement, but she quickly wrestled two vintage pieces from their cramped quarters and then whisked them around the shop, grabbing an embellished vest and two elaborate amulets on chains before making her way back to the counter.
After the party, I asked Vivian to sell the costumes to me, to which she agreed and I’ve been using them ever since. While the individual pieces work for other characters, it is the vampire for which they are my go-to.
In 2002, Vivian retired and sold the store to my friend, Linda, who operated it for several years before closing the shop for good. Vivian passed away in 2014, and, sadly, she probably never knew what an impression she and her shop had on me.
It was the end of an era, and I’m so honored to have these costume pieces from her shop in our collection.