The Halloween season is fast approaching, and the Short North Arts District takes that very seriously with HighBall Halloween. Check out our recommendations for how our Short North Arts District businesses have everything you need to get ready for the best Ball around!  

This week city will be host to the nation’s most elaborate costume party in a District where creativity and self-expression are celebrated like few others. What started out as a small street party nine years ago, HighBall Halloween is now embraced as one of the most defining events for the entire city. This weekend, High Street is going to celebrate costumes and creativity with a flair and zeal for life, and who would want to miss that?

With performances from darlings of the local music scene and electro-pop rising star Robert DeLong, and hosted by drag star Nina West and NBC4’s Monica Day, it’s going to be one jam-packed weekend that’s talked about, and one that deserves everyone’s attention. For some, especially the costume designers for Saturday’s Battelle Costume Couture Fashion Show, this is a weekend that’s been long prepared for.  However if you find yourself still needing a little costume inspiration for your HighBall Halloween look, here’s a quick rundown of some Short North Arts District shops that can offer some help.


A prime part of HighBall Halloween, TORSO is a boutique that embraces life’s decadence. A swaying marionette doll perches on a silk swing in the shop’s window, and delivers nothing short of its promises. Inside, the shop offers a path down two roads: fairy or fayer.

The first; a playful, glittering, coquettish flight of fancy is embraced in the great variety of Venetian carnival masks in silver and gold, bustling skirts of tulle, and sparkle hiding behind feathered angel’s wings.

The second; a dark-spirited sprite of Celtic folklore, is found in their shelves of wearable animal heads, smirking devils behind plague doctor masks, and red leather tuxedos with silken top hats.


Recognized by its rows of glittering Turkish lamps in the windows, Karavan’s careful curatorial skills epitomize a Middle Eastern mystery. Featuring remarkable imports from Turkey and West Asia, the shop takes time to focus on both big and small. Mirrored and bejeweled tunics and silk dresses hang next to shelves and shelves of handwoven and impeccably dyed slippers. Enameled chest plates shimmer on the walls, and display cases of jewelry sit glittering underneath a ceiling of nazars, the blue amulets of the evil eye. An urn filled with Indian swords sits next to baskets of clinking scarves for belly-dancing, and Persian headdresses in silk and fur peak behind lamps in blue glass. It’s a store that’s perfect for beautiful garments and accessories that will inspire a full costumed look for HighBall Halloween.

img_0064Flower Child & Smartypants

For something a little closer to home, earthbound and more silly than sultry, the District’s two resident vintage experts are here to charm. Flower Child Vintage, a virtual storing house of all things memory lane, is a maze of eras and movements crammed into every available space to find. Bedazzled leotards of circus acrobats hang next to a circa-1970 US Postal Service uniform and there’s no need for a reason why. The store is crammed with oddities and rarities that have stuck around for a reason, and it isn’t limited to clothing. Costume jewelry and accessories are just as plentiful, and promise to get a smile out of anyone who visits.

Smartpants Vintage has some choice pieces of vintage clothing to boast. Its hangers are filled with neat, classic cocktail dresses, dusty motorcycle jackets, and tweed suit jackets. Pert men’s fedoras reminiscent of Don Draper’s 60s hang from the walls, and a display case of hard-pounded belt buckles pine for a lonely Utah sunset.

img_0078Big Fun & Maotef

For those whose inner kid is always at heart, with characters whose foibles and victories take us worlds away, Big Fun and Maotef are both comic culture paradises.

Big Fun, sparing in wearable pieces, is abundant in pieces of comic history that could inspire any fan to go for something big. Carefully wrapped limited editions sit neatly above the registers looking down on a room crammed pack with figurines and toys devoted to them.

Maotef, also not complete without its vintage comic collection, devotes more space to wearable merchandise, giving a special nod to Star Wars this year, Storm Trooper helmets and all.

img_0079Royal Factory Atelier

For a look that leans closer to the wild side, Royal Factory Atelier has an interesting collection to boast about. Playing with rave culture and Pop Art, California cool seems to be the style de jure of Royal’s girl-about-town. Slinky beaded tops and cat’s ears hang around the table of limited-edition, hand painted masks out of LA’s underground art scene. Strappy tops and animal prints, club music and bearskin, all hint at a night of postmodern debauchery perfect for any dystopian cosplayer.

For more costume inspiration and accessories, see the Fashion section of the website. For HighBall Halloween tickets and more, click here.


– Tyler Wilson