Millions of us will gather in just a few days to observe a ritual that some have been anticipating all year.
We'll spend our savings, experience a sugar rush and garb ourselves in garments inspired by our favorite characters. We'll dress up like Angry Birds or march around in tracksuits in an attempt to channel Sue Sylvester or we'll don a winged helmet à la Captain America.
We are, of course, talking about Halloween, a holiday that will be celebrated by more than 160 million Americans, according to the National Retail Federation, which also predicts that we'll spend almost $7 billion on merchandise, $1.2 billion of that for costumes.
As in other years, this season's most popular costumes reflect a number of pop-culture trends, including celebrity styles, superheroes and zombies. What follows is a list of top-selling looks, according to national costume retailers:
The touch-screen game "has had 400 million free and paid downloads since 2009, with three-fourths of those in the last six months," according to Bloomberg. That obsession will undoubtedly translate into millions of sightings of the popular round red and black and triangular yellow birds on Oct. 31. Tom Fallenstein, chief executive of Halloweencostumes.com, says the costume retailer has sold most of its Angry Bird costumes ($19.99-$84.99), but if you're in need of a last-minute fix, Halloweenexpress.com still had a few infant, child and adult costumes available ($29.99-$64.99).
Sue Sylvester 'Glee' tracksuit
Despite her cold exterior and sharp tongue, it's pretty easy to embrace Sue Sylvester — or her style, at the very least. "Glee's" fast-talking, hard-edged gym teacher with a distinct distaste for hair product is one of the easiest and most popular costumes to put together for Halloween. Retailers such as Wal-Mart ($29.97) and Party City ($34.99) are selling the costume, but those who want to be Sue can also grab a red or blue Adidas tracksuit and a short blond wig to get the look. Just don't forget to stand up straight.
Charlie Sheen has dominated radio, TV, celebrity gossip sites and the Twitterverse; now he's making his presence known for Halloween. The Charlie Sheen wig is among the top 10 bestselling wigs on Amazon.com, and the popular costume retailer Ricky's NYC has made Sheen part of its "New Stooges" costume crew that includes Sheen, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Anthony Weiner. Other items for the costume check list? A bowling shirt, straw fedora and, most important, tiger blood (or what passes for it). And don't forget to place a "goddess" on either arm before trick-or-treating.
Consumers continue to be fascinated by the walking dead — and this year we're not talking about vampires. More than 2.6 million people plan to dress as zombies this year, according to the National Retail Federation's 2011 top costumes survey. Popular inspirations include "Walking Dead's" stoic Sheriff Rick Grimes ($49.99 at Rickysnyc.com), the decomposed zombie ($49.99 at Rickysnyc.com) and the sexy zombie nurse ($24.99 at Rickysnyc.com). Costumecircus.com sells zombie costumes inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement — for men, a tattered business suit and for women a Jackie O skirt and jacket with pearls ($48.95).
Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj
Move over Lady Gaga, there are some new blue-haired songstresses taking over this Halloween. It's hard to resist Katy Perry's catchy "California Gurls" and Nicki Minaj's slightly deranged rapping in "Super Bass," but it's their amped-up sex appeal that has made them fan favorites for Halloween. To get Perry's look, try the Katy Perry California Gurl costume from Halloweenadventures.com ($48.49) or, for a DIY version, snag a blue wig and the shortest shorts possible, and artfully attach some papier-mâché cupcakes to a bra. For Minaj, layer pieces of extra-large jewelry in the shape of your favorite candy, don a skin-tight color-blocked outfit, killer long nails and the blue Nicki Minaj wig ($23) from Headlinecostumes.com.
Royal wedding and crew
The obsession with all things British that started with the royal wedding earlier this year continues. Retailers such as Headlinecostumes.com are selling the octopus-like Princess Beatrice hat ($40) and the Kate Middleton wig ($25) for those who aspire to look like the Duchess of Cambridge or other members of the royal family. Want to dress up like Prince William? Get a full Prince Charming costume ($71.25), available at Costumecraze.com.
Automobile enthusiasts and trick-or-treaters for whom money is no object can combine their two loves when they dress up as an Autobot or Decepticon. Halloweencostumes.com offers a deluxe Optimus Prime costume with jumpsuit, light-up helmet and chest piece with semi-truck details ($324.99) and a Bumblebee get-up with a realistic yellow and black jumpsuit, machinery pieces and accessories ($324.99).
Jersey Shore's "The Situation" is old news. This year's most popular muscles belong to Captain America. Costumecraze.com carries a complete costume with a full red, white and blue suit ($44.79). Complete the patriotic crime-fighting look with the signature star shield ($13.27) and red gloves ($6.99-$9.77).