OGDEN — A pirate, a cowboy and a flamenco dancer, all dressed in normal street clothes but seeking appropriate character attire, waited Thursday outside Weber State’s annual costume sale.
Visible through the glass walls of The Lair, in WSU’s Shepherd Union, were racks of outlandish or basic clothes. Tables held crowns, headdresses and “armor” shin guards. Boxes overflowed with high heels and peasant shoes. Fabric remnants overflowed from storage bags.
“I need a pirate costume for a family murder-mystery event,” said Jonathan Goertzen, 19, a WSU accounting major. “I’m looking for an old-fashioned shirt and wool or cotton pants without pockets. I’d like to find boots, but a lot of pirates went barefoot.”
Cindy Browne, of Eden, already has her flamenco dancer Halloween costume. She wanted accessories and a gangster jacket for her boss.
“My husband and I love Halloween,” Browne said. “We have big boxes of costumes we keep. I left him recovering from surgery to be here. It was minor surgery.”
Craig Mitton, of North Ogden, wanted a statement piece to make a costume with things he already had, like boots, a cowboy hat and jeans.
“I decided to come see what they had,” Mitton said. “You never know what you are going to find.”
Theater students and WSU costume shop workers stirred inside, and the door swung open. The 25 or so shoppers filed in and dug deep into the loaded racks.
Children tried on wizard hats while their moms perused the seven racks containing bad Hawaiian shirts, normal street clothing, military-look jackets, dresses made from garish fabrics, sportswear, capes representing various eras, and one stage wedding gown.
Browne stood between two of the 11 tables. One held boxes of frizzy wigs and the other held a box of tattered, purposely distressed costumes labeled as “zombie clothing.”
“I found the gangster jacket,” Browne said, showing off an extra-large, black, blazer with tiny polka dots.
“And I found one boot,” said Goertzen, before returning to his search for its leathery mate.
Jean-Louise England runs the Browning Center’s costume shop, and has held the annual sale for five years.
“Through the year we go through costume storage to look for things we don’t need anymore, and people give us donations that we can’t always use,” England said. “We have limited space, and our costume room is packed.”
Items at the sale were color-coded to sell for $1, $2, $5, $8 or $10. The money raised goes to maintaining the costume shop and its machines, a cost not covered by budgets for individual WSU stage shows.
With any extra funds, England pays for a trip she takes every year or two with her costuming students. They head to Los Angeles and buy fabric for the year’s shows, and the group goes to Hollywood costume museums.
“It’s a good learning experience for the students and a way to contribute to their education,” England said.
Many sale items were street clothing, she said, but the stage costumes represent decades of theater at Weber State.
“We hold things because we think we will use them again, but then we do the show again and design new costumes. It’s hard to know when to let go of different pieces.”
The sales are also a trip down memory lane for England, who learned her art at Weber State University.
“There are designs I am happy to see again, and other things I am happy to see go away,” England said.
In line at the checkout, Mitton waited to pay for a leather-look jacket with a faded-denim fabric used for the collar and for fringe.
“I’m going to be Woody from ‘Toy Story,’” he said. “I’ve got everything else I need at home.”
Goertzen found a red pirate shirt with a decorative, modern, zipper he planned to rip out. He found gray sweat pants already cut into ragged fringes at about shin height, and a beige vest and an orange bandanna.
“Four dollars for a costume,” he said. “That beats the Halloween stores.”
The lone boot, he returned to its box.
“My party is in St. George, so I should be fine barefoot,” he said.
And besides her gangster jacket, Browne found red and black lace gloves for her flamenco costume, two hats (one attached to a gray wig), and an off-the-shoulder pink gingham minidress suitable for a saucy country lass.
“I wish I had more time,” Browne said. “But what I got will go in the boxes and will provide fun for years to come.”
Weber State’s costume sale continues today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in The Lair, on the ground (second) floor of the Shepherd Union Building. WSU is at 3848 Harrison Blvd.