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Halloween Costumes – The Do’s and Don’ts

Photo by Baptiste Buisson on Unsplash. The image has been cropped and compressed.

Staff writer Connor Williams gives his advice about what you should and should not wear on the spookiest night of the year. 

Who are you going as for Halloween? The one night of the year when anyone can be anyone, right?

As a kid I loved Halloween and I still do, the apple bobbing, carving pumpkins and cinnamon spiced everything. The holiday shrouded in mystery that lets us escape from the monotonies of everyday life into something spookier.

When October creeps in and the leaves turn brown, I am there decking out my home with balloons, lights, and pumpkin paraphernalia and, when the time comes, nothing is as important to a Halloween party as the costumes that go with it. From classic witches and wizards to minions and traffic cones, the more outrageous and hilarious a costume is the more we love it. But Halloween costumes can walk a tightrope of appreciation and appropriation, of scary and scandalous, trick or treat, so where do we draw the line? Here are a few ideas to think about before jumping into character this year:

Do’s

Be creative:

My favourite kinds of Halloween costumes are the ones that need a double-take. When you’re scanning the room and you see that one costume that is a cut above the rest, that makes you think ‘Huh! I wish I thought of that’.

Creative costumes are a great option because they can be super budget friendly and still have the ‘wow’ factor that every costume needs. From the sayings of everyday life to puns on well-known books and movies, there is no one way to have a creative costume this year.

A couple of my favourite ideas include a wrestler costume wrapped in Oreo packets (a tough cookie) and a t-shirt covered in different shades of grey with a sign saying, ‘New York Times Bestseller’. Whatever you chose this year, light-hearted and creative costumes are always a hit.

Get your mates involved:

Whether it’s a favourite childhood squad from TV, a Marvel super team or a pack of highlighter pens, group costumes are the best for letting the party know that you and your friends have arrived. In my opinion, group costumes make for the best memories. They help share the experience and look great in photos. The trick is to find something you and your squad all enjoy and talk about, then turn it into an iconic set of outfits.

On a practical note, collaborative costumes are also useful for keeping track of where your friends are when on a big Halloween night out, it’s important to stay safe on Halloween and group costumes are a fun way to keep that in mind.

Keep it trendy:

2022 pop culture has given us a treasure trove of costume ideas for this year. Every Halloween we see the classic zombies and ghosts, so why not keep it current this year and make a reference to some of the biggest trends and events of 2022? From Top Gun Maverick to Stranger Things, there are so many films and TV shows that can help you keep your costume contemporary.

Think about the occasion:

Is it your family’s annual pumpkin carving competition or a spooky underground rave? Whatever it is, let the occasion guide your costume. Ask yourself some key questions. Who is opening the door to the party and is this costume setting the right tone? If not, it may be time to reconsider.

If in doubt about what to wear, a good idea is to go as what you wanted to be when you grew up. The answers are usually quite innocent but still a lot of fun, perfect for all occasions.

Don’ts

Culturally appropriate:

Taking someone else’s culture for your own amusement is never ok, a point that becomes especially relevant around the Halloween period. Every year costumes are bought and sold that often trivialise minority groups in an attempt to give the general public ‘exotic’ garments for an evening. By wearing culturally significant objects, you dehumanise minority groups and set aside the deep relationships that come with things like traditional tattoos, objects, and clothing. Before you go trick or treating, be sure that you are not taking credit from or making fun of a culture that is not your own.

A constant example of this is the issue of donning Native American traditional dress. The Smithsonian National Museum of the Native American Indian has said that “dressing up as a Native American is never appropriate“ and that “Traditional clothing, or regalia, is an important and lively aspect of Native cultures”. Please respect this statement on Halloween, and every other time of year.

Be boring:

It’s ok not to be the biggest and loudest costume of the party, in fact playing it cool and understated can make for the best looks. But, if you are going to a full-on ‘fancy dress’ gig, do not just slap on some cat ears and put a little black dot on your nose. It will dampen the vibe, and nobody wants that. No one is making you do Halloween, so if dressing up is not your thing then keep the evening chilled or go to a non-fancy dress event. But, if you are going out, do something memorable and do something bold, as long as you are comfortable with it.

Mistake traumatic events for something to joke about:

Let’s get something straight, you can be something scary for Halloween without being insensitive. Vampires and Grim Reapers are both scary and unproblematic so think more along those lines, do not go as a past tragedy or a current issue.

An example that seems to be looming this year is the infamous serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. With Netflix’s new series flinging Dahmer haphazardly into pop culture, it may seem like he is a good option for a scary Halloween outfit. Please do not do this, not only is it insensitive to the victims’ families, but it also perpetuates the romanticisation of serial killers alike.

As well as this, there are now costumes available to buy referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. Buying one of these is not the joke some of you may think it is. It has been a turbulent two years and making fun of something that not only had us locked up in our homes but also killed thousands of people is not right for Halloween

Wear something that will only last for 5 minutes:

Making an entrance is important, I get it, so if you are wearing a costume that will only last for enough time to take an Instagram boomerang then have something else up your sleeve. Giant inflatable costumes are hilarious, there’s no doubt about that and I have a lot of respect for those who can wear them for longer than half an hour. But if you are like me and will totally overheat or be dragged down by a chunky costume, having a backup plan underneath is a good idea.

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