I love Halloween. I have ever since I was a child. I was the spooky kid who was into horror movies and who would plan Halloween costumes for months before the holiday arrived. And I'm still one of the spooky people who love Halloween, although I'm far from being a kid anymore.
So I probably take the business of selecting a costume more seriously than the average person, as do many of my friends. And while nothing warms the cockles of my black little heart more than seeing someone with a great Halloween costume, some people choose to wear outfits that make me wish they hadn't bothered at all. There are some broad categories of costumes that I wish people would just stop wearing, because they're awful for one reason or another. Let's look at some of these terrible types of Halloween costumes.
5. Generic "Sexy" (Fill in the Blank) Costume It's a fact that, for some reason, many women and men use Halloween as an annual excuse to dress "sexy." I'm no prude, so by all means feel free to leave the house as a sexy witch or whatever, but keep in mind that pretty much everyone has a camera on them at all times these days. If your costume consists of a witch hat, a corset and a thong, it IS going to be photographed, and it's almost certainly going to end up on the Internet.
I'm not here to rescue anyone from making a costume decision he or she will regret, so go for it. My primary problem with the "sexy" category of costume is that so many of them suck.
Since the emphasis is on being titillating, most of the time, the costume concept itself is lacking. I guess it gets difficult to come up with a cool costume that's made from the same amount of cloth as a handkerchief, but people should try harder. If a person browses the sexy Halloween costume choices sold at costume places, an astounding number of terrible concepts comes to light -- "Sexy Big Bird"? "Sexy Olive Oyl"? "Sexy Ninja Turtles"? What the hell? And yes, those are all real, and probably not the dumbest sexy costumes available these days.
It has gotten to the point where we are entering "Sexy Garbage Can" and "Sexy Leprosy" territory.
4. Creepy, inappropriately "sexy" costumes for tweens and young teens This is a trend that's been criticized in recent years, but there are lots of costumes being marketed to young girls -- and many are disturbingly similar to those sexy adult costumes in the last category. Yeah, I'm guessing that they generally cover a little more than the thong and bustier mixed with terrible "concepts" that seems to be the design strategy used for most sexy adult costumes, but in a lot of cases, the kid costumes aren't much more restrained. Sending out a 12-year-old girl in a skintight catsuit or a fairy princess costume that looks as if it should be worn at a fetish ball just seems ill-advised to me.
3. Current-event or political costumes Nothing says "argumentative prick" like walking into a Halloween party dressed like "The 2nd Amendment" or a caricature of a recent political candidate. Aren't we all bombarded by political and social issues enough in our day-to-day lives? Who needs some chucklehead dressed like a simian version of George Bush Jr. or Sarah Palin to walk in the door? There's a reason that talking about politics and religion was once considered a social faux pas, and while most people seem to have forgotten that useful rule of conduct, is a Halloween party the time and place to let everyone know the ugly side of your political or social outlook?
Dress like a tiger instead. Everyone likes tigers.
2. The "I didn't even try" joke costume Every time I've had a Halloween costume party, at least one or two people, usually guys, show up in a shitty "costume" they cobbled together at the very last minute. The worst of these was the terrible T shirt that said "Halloween Costume" on it, but a crappy fake mustache fits this bill, too. Oh, you dressed up as yourself but with a mustache? How awesome.
What a great shirt. It's your Halloween costume? Har-har! I mean, if you're that low of a costume achiever, why bother at all? Halloween may not be serious business, but being a complete slacker is boring.
1. The conceptual word play costume
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Once, a woman came to my Halloween house party wearing pretty much what she would any day of the week, except she had used makeup to create a black eye on herself, and had attached a big letter "P" to her shirt.
At first I didn't get the costume concept, and then it hit me. She was a "black-eyed pea." Brilliant, what a great idea. But that was a long time ago, and I've seen a lot of similar costumes using a play on words since then. My favorite to date was one a friend lifted from old carnival sideshows. He just showed up with a bucket of fried chicken and ate some from time to time. He was a "200 lb. man eating chicken." He fooled us rubes good.
But these sorts of costumes are usually heavy on the concept and light on actual costume. Being clever doesn't make them much more visually impressive than that lame "Halloween costume" T shirt.
One of the nice things about Halloween is that there aren't a whole lot of rules. A person can be whatever or whoever he or she wants, and costumes should express that freedom. But just slapping together some crappy joke outfit or wearing your underwear mixed with some pop-culture reference, that's weak.