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Rent a far-out costume for Halloween

A chicken mask is adorned with a whimsical

A chicken mask is adorned with a whimsical hat at the costume rental area of the Gateway Playhouse.(Oct. 9, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday/Audrey C. Tiernan

Dressing up for Halloween never gets old -- although the prices for some costumes can be downright scary. More stores on Long Island are now offering an alternative for those who want to rent a costume rather than buy one.

First-time costume renter Michele Knight drove from her home in Valley Stream to Long Island Costume in Hauppauge, where she paid $46.93 to rent an Elphaba witch outfit from the Broadway show "Wicked" to wear to a friend's Halloween party.

"The price is very reasonable," says Knight, 42, a speech pathologist. "The quality is very good, and the costume is very true to the character in the show."

Whether you're attending a fancy masquerade ball, hosting a sophisticated dinner party or looking for something distinctive for your clan's trick-or-treat outing, here's where you can find rental costumes.

Costume America

80 Smith St., Suite 7, Farmingdale

INFO 631-414-7464, costumeamerica.com

RENTAL FEE $50 for all costumes, through Oct. 31 -- $10-$25 for accessory rentals.

You'll find more than 10,000 rental costumes, from historical looks to movie and television characters. Assistant manager Kayla Spurrell says demand is high this year for his-and-her costumes -- cowboys and saloon girls, pirates and wenches. Strangest request: a customer who wants to dress as ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. "I pulled a military suit with matching military cap, a yellow sash that goes across the body and at least 20 medals," she says.

TERMS $20 deposit is required to hold costume for pickup.

Antique Costume and Prop Rental by Nan

709 Main St., Port Jefferson. Open by appointment only.

INFO 631-331-2261, antiquecostumes.com

RENTAL FEE About $100-$500 (includes alterations and accessories)

For more than 35 years, Nan Guzzetta has been dressing people in custom-made high-end historic costumes that look authentic. "People who come to me don't want run-of- the-mill," Guzzetta said. "They are looking for a drop-dead costume."

That means elaborate getups, such as Anne Boleyn (wife of Henry VIII) holding her severed head and couples' costumes, such as Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. There's a collection of Hollywood glamour outfits from the late '20s to the '40s.

For the younger set, fairy-tale and storybook characters are popular. Guzetta also enjoys dressing groups. "We have enough costumes to dress 30 nuns," she said.

TERMS A $100 security deposit is required for costumes.

Gateway Playhouse

215 South Country Rd., Bellport

INFO 631-286-1133, gatewayplayhouse.org

RENTAL FEE $25-$150 (includes alterations), $25-$50 for accessories

For the past four years, Gateway Playhouse has been renting out costumes from its extensive stock of more than 10,000 looks.

"These are costumes built for various theatrical productions over the years, used onstage at some point or another," says general manager Dom Ruggiero. Popular this year: Harry Potter characters and anything royal.

Inventory includes an assortment of medieval, modern, clowns and cowboys, plus plenty of looks from the '50s to the '70s.

TERMS A refundable security deposit equal to twice the rental rate is required.

Long Island Costume

410 Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge

INFO 631-434-8094, longislandcostume.com

RENTAL FEE $40-$150 (99 cents- $50 for accessories)

Fifty percent of business is generated from Halloween rentals, says manager Eileen Mayer. The store recently expanded its plus-size inventory. Vampire looks are particularly popular right now, she says, pointing a new "Gothic Vampira" costume that comes with a full-length lace panne-and-satin gown, jeweled choker and petticoat. Superhero costumes are on the pricier side at $100, but look "like the real thing," Mayer says. Those with a sense of humor go for things like a male version of Carmen Miranda (complete with a fruit headpiece).

TERMS Refundable security deposits vary with each costume -- an optional nonrefundable damage waiver covers accidental tears, stains or burns.

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