Unless it's Perahara or Thaipusam, we Sri Lankans don't really dress up and act outrageous in any way. We're a pretty sane lot. If you think this is unfortunate then there's still Halloween on 31st October, and though it's not a Sri Lankan festival by a long shot, it's the ideal excuse to wear a costume and act a little nuts for one night.
Since we're generally not that into costume-ing ourselves up, it's difficult to easily find costume shops in Colombo. We found some though – seven places to help you get yourself scary or just plain interesting disguises this Halloween (or for any costume party).
Malee Book Centre
No. 3, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 03
0777 394 444
If you're one of those lazy people who wants to look cool at the costume party but can't be bothered going to too much trouble, then Malee Book Centre has masks at the Kollupitiya junction. Just as you turn right at the junction, you'll see it there. They have a variety of mardi gras masquerade masks and scary masks, in the easy peasy range of Rs. 150-500.
4 Reid Avenue, Colombo 7 (inside Lakpahana)
0112 688 358
Nail Anatomy may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Halloween prep but they've actually got some pretty great Halloween themed nail art. What's interesting though is that they also do some pretty gruesome looking hand art which would definitely work great for those looking to go for a zombie look or just to complement the rest of your look.
Arpico Super Centre
A2, Galle Road, Dehiwala
011 2 733 790
What doesn't Arpico have? So it's no surprise that they have masks too, though only for the top half of your face and likely just in plastic. Again for lazy people who can go to parties and say 'hey, I'm disguised, kind of.' This is also easily accessible on Galle Road, a little past the Dehiwala junction.
Angels & Brats
No.27, Havelock Road, Colombo 5
011 258 1428
Angels & Brats is actually a pretty popular stop for costumes, though mostly by mums who want to dress up their kids for crazy kiddie parties. They have kids' size Spiderman and princess costumes, but they also have proper witch dresses, if you're like 15 years old or just really skinny.
This is actually an awesome place for props. They have fake teeth, bags of candy that look like eyeballs, Halloween themed bags, lights and brooches, fake witch noses, bunny ears, devil horns, and of course hats – whether you want to be a Red Indian, a witch, Peter Pan, a cowboy… or you just want to wear a fish on your head – yes, there's a hat that looks like a fish. The prices for props are great, all for Rs. 1000 and less.
39, Alfred Place, Colombo 03
072 700 3003
Yes, Midnight Divas has got costumes. They might be a kinky collection of slutty nurses and the likes, but it works on Halloween – you can of course pair it up with a set of tights or a cardigan if you're afraid of some Sri Lankan aunty judging you at the party as Sri Lankan aunties tend to do.
The costumes come with props. The prices are at about Rs. 3000 and the quality is pretty fine. Check out their website to see what they've got.
The Party Station
No. 282, Liberty Arcade, R.A. De Mel Mawatha, Colombo 03
0117 537 770
Now we enter the big leagues. The Party Station at Liberty Arcade has a comprehensive wardrobe of costumes and props if you're going to make a real commitment to your disguise. They've got famous wigs from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis (Rs. 4500) – pair the Monroe wig with red lipstick and a white dress and you're ready to go. They've also got full grand costumes like a king's velvet robe and crown, Harry Potter glasses, Batman and Ironman masks, and cool props like handlebar moustaches, fake blood and werewolf hands.
The prices are generally for around Rs. 2000, while the hardcore costume sets (like the 'Renaissance Woman' set) go up to Rs. 5000 – we checked and the quality seems pretty awesome. Since the prices are a bit on the high end, we recommend this place for those of you who like to be the same thing every year, or at every costume party, so you just invest a lot into your crazy King outfit and commit to it forever. Make note, they offer discounts during Halloween season.
No. 9/1, TG Jayawardena Mawatha, off Greenpath, Colombo 03
0777 772 726
Jojo's is the queen of costume in Colombo, as far as we know. She used to be at the Taj hotel but now she's at a discreet new location off Greenpath, although her most loyal customers already know this. There are Shakespearean costumes, muppet costumes, contemporary ones, you name it – it's all quite grand, and likely some used for real stage productions.
The best thing about her place is that you can rent costumes from here, for just around Rs. 750 – 1500. And if you're really, really into getting a costume that's just right for you, you can even get a custom-made one for around Rs. 2000, if you drop by a week in advance.
Quality is not something you have to worry about at Jojo's. She's been doing this for quite a while and most notably, was responsible for the fabulous costumes on the set of The Phantom of the Opera. Once you find the green gate down Jayawardena Mawatha, walk straight in and go up a flight of stairs to find her studio.
If you want to be hipster and refuse to spend any money on Venetian masks and American celebrity disguises, then here are a few boss Sri Lankan ones we came up with that require little to no effort.
All you need is a banyan, a sarong, maybe a belt, and a moustache. A naturally protruding stomach (see: bundi) is optional though preferred if you really want to pull this off. For added effect, buy some betel leaves from the kade, munch and spit at random spots on the floor every few minutes.
I love the Mohini outfit – it is so simple yet so effective. You need long hair for this though. Just get in a white saree, carry a baby-doll (they sell these everywhere in Pettah), put your hair over your face, and stand very still. Bricks will be shat.
The Annoying Aunty is a great disguise. All you need is a flowery shirt, preferably with shoulder pads, and a skirt that stops in that awkward place between the ankles and the knees. Also a gigantic handbag. Spend the night going up to people and asking why they are not married yet, and gossiping about politics, cost of living and that one's other one's cousin's aunty. Gradually slip short-eats into your giant handbag and if anybody questions you about it, tell them it's for Mr Sirisena, your cat.