by Heather Foley
Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, and why not? I love candy, I love dressing up, and orange is universally flattering. Since I love dressing up so much, right around September 1st, I start mentally putting costumes together. The problem? Well, even though I love Halloween and dressing up, I kinda hate knuckleheads, and knuckleheads just looooove to go out on Halloween, so I rarely do. And every year since I really, really want to dress up, I ask mysel, “Can I wear a costume to work?” I know I’m not alone. I know plenty of you out there have tossed and turned many a night wondering about proper Halloween work etiquette stuff and the like. Do I dress up? If I do dress up, what’s appropriate? Can I wear the same costume I planned on wearing to da club? Well, luckily for you I’m here to help you out.
First things first – should you wear a costume to work on Halloween? In the days leading up to Halloween, you might get an email from your employer or the HR department outlining some dress-up guidelines. If you’re planning on dressing up read them and read them closely. I once worked someplace that aggressively pushed Halloween costumes, yet specifically outlawed jeans on Halloween. And just because your employer has costume rules doesn’t mean they really even want you to dress up, maybe they just don’t want to get into a tussle over civil liberties and the rights of employees to wear cheap crap from iParty – I don’t know. I advise against full on dressing up unless your employer encourages it, and the easiest way to tell it;s encouraged? Easy, the higher ups dress up. If your boss is going to wear a costume, it’s cool to dress up, if no, save it for after hours. Other signs you may work in costume friendly environment? A costume contest with a decent prize, encouragement of a team theme, or throwing a kick ass lunchtime Halloween party.
Okay, so you’ve decided to dress up, now what to wear? Rule number one – nothing with the word “slutty” in the title (unless you dance for dollars, in that case go hog wild). Actually, you know what, I don’t trust your opinion, Kelly Bundy. Run your costume by your mom, if she doesn’t give the side eye you’re good to go. Some dead giveaways your costume crosses into slutsville? Fishnets, nip slips, a slit high enough to see your tonsils, visible belly button, and undercarriage to seat contact on the bus.
Speaking of the bus, remember you have to commute to work in your costume. If you drive, you can probably pack up most of your costume, unless you want to cause an accident on the expressway. If you’re a plebeian like me and ride the T every day, you have to think long and hard about making a commute compatible costume. I ride the Number 7 every day, and though I have an ample booty, I’m far from plus sized and I just barely fit in the seats. I can only imagine how much worse it would be if I had wings (butterfly, angel, or peacock), a headdress (Native American or showgirl) and other various props such as club, bow and arrow, rocket launcher, sheep, baseball bat, etc. Another thing to remember, you’re still putting in an eight hour workday, and some costume fun was not meant to last eight hours. Your cutie pie clown makeup may be adorable at nine am but you’ll look a hot mess by three pm.
But fear not! There are plenty of work appropriate costumes to chose from, you just need to put your thinking cap on, and just in case you lost your thinking cap here are a few ideas.
Tippi Hedron as Melanie Fields in “The Birds”. Melanie Fields’ iconic green tailored suit would be recognized in pretty much any workplace but you can throw a little stuffed bird into the mix just in case. Don’t have a green suit? Put your hair up and throw on a matching muted cardigan and fitted skirt, you’re good to go.
Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. Mary Richards was on the cutting edge of office fashion back in the day and she’s the perfect Halloween muse. Mary’s wardrobe consisted of colorful knits, flared pants suits, chic mini dresses, knee high boots, heavy winter coats and of course that beret, which you can adorably throw in the air whenever you want. And don’t forget to bust out your big fat curling iron and flip up the ends of your hair.
Annie Hall. In my humble opinion, menswear inspired fashion is always hot, and Annie Hall’s style will always read as effortlessly chic. Wide leg trousers, button down shirt, vest, tie, and poof you’re done.
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Black opera length gloves, a tiara, and your favorite LBD and you’re good to go. Sure Holly Golightly was technically a hooker, but this costume is about 95% more office appropriate than anything else on the market today.
Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker in “Bonnie and Clyde”. Fitted sweater, skirt, silk scarf around your neck, beret and bam, you’re recent history’s most glamorous bank robber. Maybe you can even talk your work husband into dressing Clyde Barrow.
Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway in “Mad Men”. All you need to do is buy a red wig and grab your most hourglass-enhancing outfit. Simple ladylike touches like a vintage broach, red lips, structured handbag, and gloves complete the look. Just don’t make like Don Draper and have a martini lunch.
Well, ladies I hope I’ve helped your costume conundrum. And just in case you’re curious, this year I’m dressing up as Sue Ellen Mischke, heiress to the O’Henry! Candy bar fortune! Trick or treat, y’all!