You know a place has reached wider notoriety when it gets featured on an episode of The Real Housewives of Orange County. That's the case for Orange-based costume shop Gasoline Alley, where cast members Shannon Beador and Tamra Judge were filmed looking for getups for a big night out in male drag at Hamburger Mary's.
But even if it weren't the site of television housewives discussing the latest Vicki Gunvalson-related bullshit, Gasoline Alley is a legend on its own, one of the last mom-and-pop costume shops left in OC. Since 1972, this family owned-and-operated store has served as a source for Halloween revelers, theater productions, film projects, Renaissance Faire mavens and whimsical types looking for outfits of every kind, for any occasion, any time of the year.
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With costumes organized by gender, theme and era, it resembles a vintage store; old movie and rock-music posters and memorabilia decorate the interior, and photos of Marilyn Monroe hang in the dressing rooms. Vinyl records occupy one corner. The racks are so heavily stocked with garments, you'll likely build muscle pulling the hangers off them. And among the costume pieces are actual vintage, pre-owned clothing, waiting to live a second life as someone's period look.
As Halloween approaches, don't do fake vintage at Party City or whatever holiday emporium pops up at a spot for which landlords can't find a permanent tenant. Hit up Gasoline Alley for an authentic flapper dress; 1960s-era print dresses worthy of Cher in her variety-show days; or less basic-looking '50s poodle skirts, Army uniforms or fairytale princess gowns. And besides costumes, here's a museum where one can see the many shifts of American fashion under one roof. Just ask Skeezix!
Gasoline Alley, 3804 E. Chapman Ave., Orange, (714) 639-6550; www.gasolinealleycostumes.com.