SINGAPORE - Dressed as a ghoulish prisoner, Ms Wu Ying Ying's first Halloween party costume four years ago was a cumbersome, baggy jumpsuit with many pockets. To complete the look, she and her friends crowded into a public toilet in Clarke Quay, taking turns in front of a dimly lit mirror to apply their make-up - "all the right things, like eyeliner and lipstick, in all the wrong places", says the public relations consultant.
Her outfits in the subsequent years gradually became less of a hassle. Her look last year as a Chinese Qing Dynasty vampire took less than an hour to achieve. "With experience comes wisdom, and I have learnt that you have to be a minimalist during Halloween," says Ms Wu, 25.
She did her make-up at a friend's shop in the Clarke Quay area - all the better to hop to clubs in the vicinity - and placed her valuables in a friend's car.
To store other belongings, she sometimes uses lockers in clubs, though some friends prefer to strap their belongings to their thighs, "like a garter", she says.
She is among a growing group of young adults who view Halloween, an American festival celebrated on Oct 31, as a must-do event on the yearly calendar - with costumes, make-up and parties galore.
In Singapore, Halloween spells big business for costume rental services, make-up artists, attractions and clubs which pull out the stops to make sure people party in character.
At costume shop Masquerade in Lavender Street, which has been renting out its fairy-tale and ghostly outfits since 1993, business has tripled in the past five years as the festival gets more popular, says owner Betty Png, 58.
During this period, she gets more than 200 customers daily, though this number may also include those who come to rent costumes for their dinner-and-dance parties or for occasions such as Oktoberfest - all happening within the same period, she says.