story by Anna Clare Spelman
Entering Creatures of Habit feels like coming into an enormous walk-in closet of an incredibly cool grandma.
A grandma who partied with Elvis, had a fondness for renaissance fairs and loved to collect jewelry and wigs. The shop even smells like grandma's basement, in the best way possible. It's the scent of nostalgia, mixed with the thrill of discovery.
You can be anything you want inside Creatures of Habit.
The shop, in Paducah for almost 30 years, is owned by a husband and wife team – Natalya and Jack Cody. Their 10-year-old son, Owen, who loves chess and can name facts about countries he has never been to, can often be found practicing his jazz piano on the keyboard in the front of the shop.
Avid collectors, Natalya and Jack own half a million vintage pieces of clothing and accessories. Their belief in the importance of preserving history is something they strive to pass on to Owen.
They design and make most of the remaining costumes. With backgrounds in theater and fine art, they have no shortage of creativity. And while Jack and Natalya bought their first cell phone only two months ago, they are extremely knowledgeable about pop culture. Natalya can name multiple options of "Joker" or "Cinderella" costumes, depending on which movie her patron wants to emulate.
Jack says owning a costume shop tunes them into human nature and "the pulse of the nation." He knows what scares and what excites people. This year, people are so scared of clowns that the local TV station wanted to know if Creatures of Habit would pull clown costumes out of inventory, following in Target's footsteps.
Ultimately, the joy of costuming is in "becoming another character," says Jack. That is evident on customers' faces when they see themselves in the mirror: a transformed princess, flapper, Elvis, Chewbacca and everything in between.