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Sexy 'Sesame Street' Costumes a Hit This Halloween

With each passing year, it seems the notion of Halloween being a children's holiday gets farther and farther from the reality of the matter.

More adults than ever before are planning to wear a costume and celebrate the holiday this year, with a National Retail Federation survey estimating about one in four Americans will dress up.

Among the top costumes for 2010 are movie themes such as "Toy Story 3's" Buzz Lightyear and characters from "Alice in Wonderland." But traditional themes continue to dominate the list: witches, vampires, princesses, superheroes and pumpkins.

"Guys want to be funny or horrific so they stand out at the party," said Steve Silverstein, president and CEO of retailer Spirit Halloween. "...Girls want to be beautiful, and when they grow up they want to be sexy."

To that end, costume manufacturer Disguise, a unit of Jakks Pacific, has designed a number of costumes for adults that take familiar children's characters and make them a little...um...sassier.

Sesame Street's Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—even popular Hasbro board games such as Scrabble, Candyland and Monopoly—have been intrepreted by Disguise in a way that not only captures the essence of those iconic brands, but also fulfills a woman's desire to wear a very attractive costume.

It's a fine line, but they hit it.

The Sesame Street costumes, for example, use a feathery fabric that mimics the fuzziness of the puppets in the classic children's TV show. There are also other details in the costume that reinforce the image. For example, the Big Bird outfit includes thigh-high hose that resemble the character's legs, and a headband with Big Bird's face. But the length of the skirt, and the bows on the stockings, all convey a flirty feeling.

The costumes will likely be worn by younger women in their early twenties, but the company also sells versions of the characters in different designs targeted to teenagers and older women. For those groups, the costumes provide more body coverage.

Still, it's the "Sassy" versions that are getting all the attention. Several retailers reported the costumes are a big hit with customers. (For other costume trends, see our slideshow.)

"Those are actually the hot theme so far for us this season," said Karen van Ert, a spokeswoman for BuyCostumes.com.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com

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