After I gave you the skinny on grocery shopping in last week's issue, I hope you saved a few dollars to put toward a Halloween costume. Hopefully you've been kicking around some costume ideas and are almost ready to start shopping. So where can you go in town to get an affordable, awesome costume? AS Review photographer Matt Kenny and I hit the streets to find out who's got the goods.

In the downtown area, Mad Hatter Vintage Clothing on Railroad Avenue is open seven days a week and the folks who work there are actively working on putting together costumes from odds and ends, owner Claudia Anderson said. They have a lot in the way of vintage clothing, but they also have costumes and masks. They have a wide selection of wigs ranging from $10 to $15. They've also got an aviator costume, complete with goggles, scarf, and cap, for $24.

Buffalo Exchange on State Street has a lot of packaged costumes for men and women, usually costing between $15 and $30, as well as wigs. Employee Jessyca Murphy would like to see somebody buy the Playboy referee costume they have on display in their window. There are no returns on Halloween costumes.

Merch Bot on Holly Street has a few cool novelties, like rubber masks for $4, a fake chest hair for $8 and a set of seven assorted mustaches for $7.

Larue Costume Rentals, on the corner of Cornwall Street and Alabama Street, has makeup, wigs and other higher-quality, theater-type stuff, but the cool thing is you're just renting it and not buying a blue beehive wig that you'll never wear again.

Value Village on Meridian Street has tons of packaged costumes, masks, fake weapons, angel wings, face paint and makeup. It's all new, not used.

Now let's talk about costume ideas. Something I've been hearing people talk a lot about lately is the tendency for women's costumes to be “sexy” …that is to say, revealing. For example, the sexy pirate, the sexy sailor, the sexy witch, the sexy Little Bo Peep and so on.

I, for one, say it's time men used that same excuse. Don't be shy. Let that inner sexy highway patrolman come out for a night. Hey, there's no reason a guy can't dress as a sexy pirate, sexy sailor, sexy wizard, or even a sexy Little Bo Peep. A buddy of mine once cut the cuffs off a tux shirt, put a bow tie around his neck, and went to a Halloween party dressed as a Chippendale's performer. A lot of people touched him.

“Sexy” doesn't have to mean “revealing,” either. It's all relative. No matter what your gender is, you could dress as Napoleon, the Grim Reaper, or a character from the movie “Tron,” and still be sexy. It's not necessarily what you're wearing, but how you wear it. Sexy is as sexy does.

Furthermore, don't be constrained by traditionally masculine or feminine costumes. It's Halloween, after all. Break some barriers. I'm not saying that if you're a guy, you should just dress in drag and call it a costume. That's been done to death. Try something a little more interesting, like dressing as Edna Turnblad from the film, Broadway musical, and film-based-on-Broadway-musical, “Hairspray.” You can actually find complete Tracy and Edna Turnblad costumes on the internet. Check out http://buycostumes.com. If that's too pricey, just get a beehive wig and a muumuu.

Another thing more guys should try is dressing as a cat. Women have been dressing as cats for years and I think more men should give it a go. Peter Criss from Kiss did it, and so can you. I also would like to see more mermen (male mermaids).

As for ladies, consider going as a football player, a Spartan warrior, or Karl Marx.

But I'm not going to tell you how to dress this Halloween. If you want to be a sexy chamber maid, then be a sexy chamber maid. There's no reason to get puritanical about Halloween. It's not like you get the day off from work or anything. Do what makes you happy.

Of course, sex appeal doesn't need to be the biggest factor in your decision-making process. There are a lot of other things to consider. For instance, is your costume functional? The ideal costume will keep you warm when you're outside, but also involves layers you can remove once you've arrived at the hot, sweaty, crowded party. For example, you could get a fur coat and fur hat from Mad Hatter, a mustache from Merch Bot, and a bloody sword from Value Village, and voila: you're Genghis Khan.

And, of course, you've got to look at your budget. Don't go overboard on something you'll only wear once. The best Halloween costumes, of course, are the ones that don't outlive their usefulness by November. If dressing as a Templar knight helps you feel a little braver when you take your final exams, I say do it.

Remember, you don't have to have the most creative, expensive, obscure, original, bizarre, or esoteric costume at the ball. Just be yourself. Or rather, be yourself in a costume.