If you've been planning your Halloween costume since the day after Halloween 2012, you're not alone.

We've been literally trained since birth to anticipate dressing up and getting excited about this holiday, says Mary Hickey Panayotou, owner of Chicago Costume, with two locations in Chicago. It all starts with associating Halloween with candy, costumes and excitement.

"You get 10 to 12 years of that," Panayotou says. "Then you get to be a teen, and you get to be naughty on Halloween. Then you get to be an adult, and you have to sit in an office, but then Halloween comes around, and you get to dress up and have fun again."

But one thing about dressing up on Halloween doesn't change, regardless of your age: You still get to transform yourself and become anything and anyone you want to be.

"On Halloween, we have the ability to dream," Panayotou says. "What if I were king? What if I were an astronaut? You can pretend, and it’s completely legit. It's allowed."

In Chicago, we've got a host of year-round Halloween stores – and even stores that aren't necessarily "Halloween" stores but can become them if you use your imagination.

 

Chicago Costume

They focus on adult costumes – but not your typical trendy character-of-the-month costumes. They have a fabulous selection of obscure TV and movie figure costumes or random social trend costumes, such as Heisenberg from Breaking Bad or Horsehead mask costumes. Buy a costume for $10 to $500 or rent one for $50 to $200.

Location: 1120 W. Fullerton Ave. and 4727 W. Montrose Ave., 773-528-1264, www.ChicagoCostume.com. Additional pop-up locations will be added in October.

Fantasy Costumes

This family business employs makeup artists who are ready and waiting to explain what you need to go with your costume - and how to apply your Halloween makeup so you’re prepared on Halloween. They also have an entire line of non-toxic, water-based make-up for kids. In addition to the make-up department, they have a wig department – choose between a pre-packaged wig or go all out with a custom wig or a theater wig. You can even get human hair mustaches or other hair accessories. The reason why you can get so much stuff in one store? It’s an entire city-block long,” says Chuck Giovenco, the manager. One room is filled to the brim with hands and feet and another room has about 500 kids costumes. Yet another has about 1,500 Halloween masks. During the last week of October, they stay open 24/7 so you can take your time strolling down that block.

Location: 4065 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-777-0222, www.FantasyCostumes.com

Broadway Costumes, Inc

This is a higher-end, all-rental costume store and they only rent adult costumes. Nearly all their costumes are based on historical or theatrical figures and none of them are licensed characters. You’ll be able to find everyone from George Washington to a bear costume here or even a Las Vegas showgirl. But come prepared – you’re only allowed to try on three costumes. There is a rental directory on the Web site so you can browse ahead of time. Each costume may be rented for three days, two nights only, and the average rental is $84.50 plus a security deposit.

Location: 1100 W. Cermak Rd., 312-829-6400, www.BroadwayCostumes.com

Jo Ann Fabric & Craft Stores

If you’re going to make a costume, this is the place to buy your supplies. They’ve got all sorts of Halloween costume patterns if you want to go that route (though they have a better selection of costume patterns online than in store) or you could spend an entire day simply looking through all the different fabrics and craft supplies to do it completely on your own. It simply depends on how crafty you are.

Location: There are stores throughout the Chicago-area. Check www.Joann.com for more information.

Beatnix

This costume store resides in the heart of Boystown and features lots of women's clothing and costumes in larger sizes. The entire basement is filled with vintage clothing, but upstairs is the newer stuff. In the front is costume jewelry, and heels for larger-than-average feet (everything up to size 16). There’s also an entire wall of tights, corsets, tutus and boas, a wig room and theatrical makeup and lashes. For those who want an easy costume, they also sell costumes in bags ranging from super heroes to military costumes and French maids.

Location 3400 N. Halsted St., 773-281-6933, www.BeatnixClothing.com

Party City

Take your kids here and let them have a ball choosing their favorite costume. They’ve got a great selection of costumes – and they’re almost all less than $30. No, the quality isn’t amazing. But they’re fun, they’re trendy and they fit the bill. You can bet that if your daughter wants to be Strawberry Shortcake and if your son wants to be Spiderman, their bagged costumes will be waiting for them. And if they aren’t in the store, they’ve got plenty more to choose from online.

Location: They have locations throughout the Chicago-area. For more information, check out www.PartyCity.com

Heads & Threads Boutique

If you need a wig to compliment your costume (or just want a wig to be your costume) – this is the place to go. They’ve got long ones, short ones, colorful ones, costume ones and even everyday wigs. Some wigs they sell here are designed for a specific costume: the Elvis wig, Jesus wig or Snooki wig, for example. But others can be adjusted to go with whatever look you have in mind. The wigs are one-size fits most, and they’re adjustable so they’ll fit children too. Most of the costume wigs are $20 and they tend to top out at $40.

Location: 1254 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-235-1190