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Halloween week is here and D.C. is full of spooky / scary / creepy / crawly things to do. Whether you’re making your annual pilgrimage to The Exorcist stairs or you’re going all out and hitting up every Halloween party in the District, you want to look good. Halloween costumes are about going all out, getting creative and scaring children, and no one knows more about costumes than Kelly Carnes.

As the CEO of Trove, Carnes runs the best place to grab a cool, one of a kind costume in the District (or rent your own killer costumes out to people). It’s like Rent the Runway for Star-Lord outfits and Hogwarts robes and mermaid tales! Looking for an entire ensemble? They have your back. Just need the missing piece for your Yoda / Game of ThronesDeadpool / Harley Quinn costume? Look no further.

In honor of spooky season, we emailed Carnes to talk about dressing up for conventions vs. Halloween, how to up your costume game and candy corn. Let’s get weird.


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Brightest Young Things: Cosplayers and convention pros dress up year round, do you think of Halloween as amateur night? Do you care about your Halloween costume or are you more focused on convention season?

Carnes: We lovingly joke that Halloween isn’t a day, or even a season, it’s a lifestyle. 🙂 I think most cosplayers, like me, started out as Halloween super fans, and realized to our great delight that there was actually a community that dresses up year round for events, themed parties and conventions. There are more than 1400 conventions across North America! So, to answer your question I still care deeply about Halloween (my friends call me the “HallowQueen”) and rather than amateur night, I think about it as a gateway celebration for those who may not know they enjoy dressing up to play, until they try it. In a sense Halloween is like Homecoming, and will always be my favorite holiday.

BYT: What are the hot costumes / franchises / styles for this Halloween? What’s flying off Trove’s digital shelves?

Carnes: As far as full costumes go, fantasy is what is flying off the digital shelves, and a lot of costumes that are based on movie pop culture, like Star Wars, Hocus Pocus, Disney, or Game of Thrones. It’s also Renaissance Faire season here, so Renn Faire accessories are in high demand and being rented multiple times a season. We are getting tons of requests from parents for more kids costumes, so if you’ve got costumes in storage that your kids have grown out of listing them on Trove can clear out some space and make you some cash. There also aren’t a ton of men’s costumes listed yet, so that’s a growing market where there’s lots of opportunity to make a killing.

BYT: How can someone up their Halloween costume game? What’s an easy way to take it to the next level?

Carnes: You mean besides Troving something high quality and made with love instead of buying something plastic from a party store? 😉 Seriously though, if anything skip the party store wigs, those are the worst. Five mins on Trove, Etsy or even Amazon will net you something way better. I’ve had great success with Japanese-made wigs, and if you can get lace front, do it.

BYT: What are your thoughts on matching costumes?

Carnes: I’m not sure if you mean complementary costumes, matching costumes or couples costumes but I love them all. Couple/Group cosplays can be so creative. I once had a group of women come to my Halloween party as the Rockford Peaches from A League of Their Own and it made my night. The past five years at DragonCon our group has done group cosplays including Hocus Pocus, The Princess Bride, and the new She-ra. The coordination takes a lot of effort and planning which always impresses me.

BYT: Do you have any costume pet peeves? Bad wig, wrong shoes, etc.?

Carnes: Definitely bad wigs, but I’ll also take a pass on anything that’s the “Sexy version of ____” I support people wearing whatever brings them joy, but those costumes are usually at best not creative, and at worst objectifying. I wont say that I haven’t laughed at a few really clever ones, though!


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BYT: What costume would you like to wear, but you haven’t been able to make it / buy it / figure it out?

Carnes: Medusa. I’ve wanted to cosplay Medusa for years but I refuse to do it until I can figure out how to engineer a wig with moving snakes and black lights. If that’s your skill set, call me.

BYT: What costumes / characters are you over?

Carnes: Said with all the love in the world for my friends who cosplay these characters, but I’m ready to move on from Deadpool and Suicide Squad Harley Quinn. Some people invest a ton into doing these beautifully and I respect and admire that, but I’m always excited to see what’s new and what’s next.

BYT: Where is your favorite place (besides Trove!) to shop for unique costumes?

Carnes: I have had good luck finding used, handmade costumes on Etsy, or commissioning costumes from makers there. I like minimizing my environmental impact by re-wearing something and giving it another life – which is part of Trove’s model. I also love giving my business to local artisans who are using their talent and imagination to craft these wearable works of art. A lot of makers have told us they plan to develop a line specifically to rent out on Trove so they have a consistent passive line of income supporting them as they work on one-off commissions.

BYT: What are you dressing up as this year? (If you’re dressing up!)

Carnes: Pshhhhhh IF I’m dressing up! I’m headed to Scorpio Entertainment’s Halloween Disco because the costume contest winner gets abducted and taken to a secret location for the evening! I’m wearing a 10lb opera gown, made of organza, tulle and vinyl, draped over a 10ft aluminum cage, with more than 400 lights lining the skirt, a light rig bodice under the vest, and an led-lit pompadour ombré style wig. It was made by costume-maker Andrew Blake, it’s stunning, and that costume contest is mine!

BYT: How do you feel about candy corn?

Carnes: Unpopular opinion: I LOVE IT! Haters be damned!


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