Halloween costumes at work: where’s the line?

A reader writes:

I’ve generally worked places where people like to dress up in costumes for Halloween, and sometimes I’ve wondered if I’m being too uptight or if my coworkers just have terrible judgment. I’ve seen people wear costumes that show a ton of skin (something I might wear to a bar but not to the office), costumes that seem insensitive to outright racist (like costumes based on cultural stereotypes), and costumes that just seem impractical (a guy I once worked with kept a full-body gorilla suit on the whole day, and it was not easy to hear him talk through it). I’d think my employers would have laid out guidelines for costumes but they never did! So what are the right guidelines for Halloween costumes at work?

You can read my answer to this letter at New York Magazine today, where I also answer other Halloween questions, including:

  • I don’t want to wear a Halloween costume to work!
  • My office goes overboard for Halloween
  • Is it weird to take Halloween off from work?
  • Can I wear a Halloween costume to a job interview?

{ 348 comments… read them below }

  1. Amber Rose*

    Please be aware that “interfering with the ability to do your job” can hit in subtle ways. I wore a unicorn onesie to work a few years ago, ended up in an impromptu important meeting with upper management, and had them struggle to stay on topic/ take me seriously.

    Today I’m wearing fluffy cat ears, because they’re cute and fun and most importantly, easily removable with only minor hair mussing.

    Our decorations are some cartoon ghosts and bats on people’s doors. I think if it’s appropriate for kindergarten, it’s probably OK at the office. We can acknowledge the spooky holiday without trying to actively make people scared at work. Unless you work in a haunted house. ;)

    1. many bells down*

      A friend of mine who was a QA Director for an international company dressed up as Frank N Furter one Halloween. The office had a strong tradition of elaborate costumes so it would have been fine… if he hadn’t been scheduled at the last minute for lunch with several people from the Japan office. He didn’t find out about the lunch until he arrived that morning.

      Fortunately, he says the Japanese executives found it hilarious.

      1. H.Regalis*

        I’m picturing a conference room door opening, and initially just one leg in fishnets and high heels slowly stepping into the room XD I’m glad the execs had a good sense of humor ^_^

          1. Ms. Murchison*

            He’s just a
            little brought down because
            when you knocked
            he thought you were the copy machine repairman.

      2. DramaQ*

        omg please tell me he owned it and walked in singing Sweet Transvestite.

        I would have given him a raise!

      3. Alexander Graham Yell*

        We had a potential client show up to a meeting today in a Napoleon Dynamite costume. It was IMPRESSIVE, and since it was a sales call, it really made me want to work with him!

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        *GIANT EYES*

        I honestly don’t know what I would do! Even if you changed clothes that makeup would not come off easily!

      5. AskJeeves*

        Oh no hahaha. I had an internship in a federal government agency during grad school, and my supervisor dressed up in drag for Halloween. I was surprised that was allowed at our normally very staid office, but no one seemed to mind, and he was definitely the best-dressed that day.

    2. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I wore a unicorn onesie a few years ago and ended up wearing normal clothes underneath just in case. Was I a little too hot all day? Yes. Would I have been able to change if our CEO (who was visiting that day after having recently taken over the role) hadn’t been super into it? Also yes.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I was wearing normal clothes under mine, but it’s not like I could ask management to wait ten minutes while I fought my way out of it. It was a bit tight.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Husband got a great outfit together this year; The Gill Man (aka Creature from the Black Lagoon) on Spring Break that featured one of those spandex one piece suits in bright green–think Charlie from It’s Always Sunny. This thing covers your hands, your feet, everything, with no openings except a zipper up the back.

      It wasn’t until THIS MORNING that it occurred to him that it was going to be difficult to type constantly with spandex covered hands, or to go to the bathroom in that rig. Luckily I remembered that he had some more conventional black long underwear that would work and he’s using that as I type.

      They just took his picture and our manager is delighted. Thinks he’s put us in the running for best costume!

    4. pumpkin head*

      I only wore my costume for the judging process. I was a porch decoration with a real carved pumpkin on my head, a pair of work gloves, jeans, a flannel and snow boots.

  2. Exhausted Electricity*

    My company’s are:
    1.) No Weapons
    2.) No Stereotypes
    3.) No Excessive Gore
    4.) Same or More Coverage as Business Casual
    5.) (not a rule but a guideline) Punny (funny puns) land better than scary

    1. JustaTech*

      Oh that’s an excellent list!

      Two things I would add, just based on experience at my company are:
      Able to move around enough to do your job (or you can take off parts to improve your mobility) – we work in a lab so you can’t be wearing your awesome robot costume that doesn’t let you lift your arms, for example.
      Not sexual – one year we had a guy dress up as a Twister board with a single red dot in a suggestive place AND a guy in a banana costume where the face was … not at the top. It was intended to be dirty and a lot of people called him out on it.

      Back when our Halloween parties were legendary most people would only fully dress up for the party and wear either normal clothes or the base of their costume while they were working.

      1. straws*

        I read that as “you can take off pants to improve your mobility” and got awfully confused about work appropriate attire for a moment.

        1. SomeWords*

          One of the first things I do when I get home! From the other reactions I have a suspicion I’m not the only one. lol

      2. Exhausted Electricity*

        Solid Additions! Mobility/Safety hasn’t been an issue yet, most of the people who dress up also have ways to take their costumes from “Fun” to “Completely Professional and Safe” in less than 5 minutes in case of client calls.

        the… Not sexually suggestive is going on the list of “No” this year after a costume incident.

      3. Anax*

        I would also suggest:
        Avoid religious, political, news-related, or otherwise emotionally-charged costumes. I love Buddy Christ as much as anyone, but that’s probably not a good costume for most workplaces.

        I do think those topics can be an important one to discuss in the workplace, depending on context, but since Halloween costumes are meant to be fun and often flippant, they aren’t really conducive to… nuanced discussion, and you don’t want to wear a costume that makes people wince all day.

        And on that note, I can imagine a lot of news-related costumes which might be funny in a vacuum, but might be wince-worthy if any of your coworkers are personally affected by that issue – anything from ‘inflation’ to ‘the road construction on Main Street that never ends’.

        1. allathian*

          Some schools have started doing Halloween parties here, and in some suburbs/cities kids are going out begging for candy (HOAs frown on tricks). There’s a problem, though, because Halloween’s such a new thing here, I think I saw the first Halloween decorations and candy about 20 years ago, people can’t seem to agree when to celebrate Halloween. So you might have people coming to your door on the last weekend of October, October 31, or All Saint’s Day, celebrated here on the Saturday that falls between October 31 and November 6.

          One high school Halloween party made the news here when a student showed up dressed as an SS officer, including the red armband with the swastika. He did take the armband off when it was pointed out to him that it was inappropriate, although I suspect he did it because he would’ve been denied entry to the party venue if he hadn’t.

          Halloween parties aren’t really a thing at most offices here. I suppose some subsidiaries of American companies might have them, but very few Finnish ones.

    2. Worldwalker*

      My inflatable T-Rex would qualify…but I know from experience that tail would knock down half the office. I have a costume that I can’t wear anywhere indoors. :(

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        Have you seen the person doing ballet (en pointe) in one of the T-Rex costumes? Look it up, it’s crazy impressive!

        1. Cyclone Fan*

          Google “Iowa State band dinosaurs”. You’ll find a video from 2018 and one from just a few weeks ago. :)

      2. Anax*

        We actually had our department head wear one in the office in 2019, ‘chasing’ other coworkers down (for funny pictures, with full consent). It was hilarious, but I can see how that costume requires some extra room!

  3. Someone Online*

    For a modest touch, I wear novelty Halloween earrings. I think they are fun, but no one is going to have trouble staying on task while talking to me.

    1. Susan Calvin*

      This very slightly backfired one year when I was wearing my tarantula studs – silver and maybe thumbnail sized, not really mistakeable for any real spider, but our office manager (lovely person, life of the party) was, in fact, mildly creeped out by them!

      1. AnotherOne*

        They would not have liked my typical work “costume” which are these spider clips that I put in my hair.

        1. Arabella Flynn*

          I have work and a dance class today. I too am wearing my best hair spiders for the occasion.

      2. Rae*

        Those sound awesome, and like something that many of my coworkers would consider an accessory for a formal event at any time of year – maybe the reason my workplace goes so hard for the celebratory non-scary side of Halloween is the fact that critters like snakes, spiders, bats, or scorpions, or things like arthropod molts or sheds or vertebrate skeletons, are just part of some people’s everyday jobs around here. (One year my “scary” costume was a colorful fantasy animal onesie and me promising, unprompted, that I was definitely NOT an invasive species)

    2. Constance Lloyd*

      I’m wearing a pewter raven necklace and slightly vampy red lipstick. My general approach is to be festive, rather than costumed.

    3. Justme, The OG*

      I’m wearing ghost earrings today. I tend to wear novelty earrings on a regular day, though.

    4. UKDancer*

      Yes. I’ve never worked anywhere where people dressed up for Halloween (I think less common in the UK than the US) but I do tend to wear themed earrings. So today I’ve been wearing skeleton earrings and a scrunchie with skulls on. Subtle enough for the office but fun.

    5. Dek*

      I’ve got a Halloween sweater and some Beetlejuice earrings. And I put on some green eyeshadow that probably isn’t even visible anymore. I like Constance’s “festive, rather than costumed.”

      That said, I’ve done costumes before, but they were usually simple things (think the Riddler–regular clothes in specific colors). But my office isn’t big on dressing up, and I get depressed when I’m the only one.

    6. Loredena*

      At my first job, I’d only been there a couple months at Halloween. My coworkers were youngish and costumes were encouraged but no guidelines provided. I wore my Indian princess costume (this was the 80s, I was young, and am so glad we hadn’t yet hit all your sins are permanently immortalized). I don’t remember anyone elses costumes but I was uncomfortable enough to go home and change at lunch!

      I stuck to novelty witch ‍♀️ hat earrings after that.

    7. RedinSC*

      I am wearing my skeleton earrings, and my zombie shoes. THe shoes are a big hit. (Plus they glow in the dark!)

    8. Anonymous Scientist*

      Same. I have earrings that are crystals in the shape and colors of candy corn. It’s festive but subtly so.

    9. SinginInTheRaine*

      Yes, this year I wore a black turtle neck, an orange skirt with a tulle overlay that had little bats and moons on it and a pair of black cat earrings. My hair is very dark, so they blended in. Our office doesn’t dress up for Halloween, but many people complimented my outfit. It was subtle, yet both seasonally and office-appropriate. Sometimes that’s the best you can do! It also sparked a conversation about maybe encouraging people to dress up in future years, if they want.

    10. Marion Ravenwood*

      This is my view too. I wasn’t in the office on Halloween this year, but last week (the closest office day to Halloween itself) I wore a skirt I made that’s orange and black check and with pockets that have a print of black cats’ faces with orange eyes, so you can just see the eyes staring out at you if you get a glimpse of the pockets, with a black long sleeve top, tights and Chelsea boots. Still Halloween-y but by and large just a normal outfit. The year before I wore a shirt with a print of animals in Halloween outfits (dogs as witches, cats as vampires etc) under a black cord pinafore dress for a similar vibe.

  4. NMitford*

    I had one job with a coworker who was very involved in Renaissance Fair activities and wore what can only be described as her Tavern Wench costume to work on Halloween. It was low cut, and the bodice/corset lifted what was already on display so that you couldn’t miss them. As one of the guys said, “The girls came around the corner before she did.”

    1. Exhausted Electricity*

      yeah a few of my coworkers know I have ELABORATE, hand made, and potentially inappropriate renaissance faire costumes because they’ve seen me at the fair… and instead I’m in a superhero costume I got from amazon a few years ago since I don’t need to have people trying to look down my bodice at the office.
      I’m super proud of those costumes and I wear them outside the office at any opportunity, it’s a huge time and place thing.

    2. KT*

      I’m someone who goes to the ren faire every year and finally put together a closet costume that I also wore to work today. I was very concious about making sure I was NOT that person. I wound up wearing an off the shoulder white top under my corset which doesn’t show anything but my shoulders and collarbones. I work in a super casual office and my shirt isn’t anything I haven’t seen others wear, but I’m constantly checking to make sure there’s been no slippage. There’s no way I could work comfortably in an outfit like you described because I’d be so paranoid of accidentally giving my coworkers an eyeful.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I did that once. Full corset and skirts. It probably wasn’t completely work appropriate, but man did I benefit from the support. I’d never been in so little back pain.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        The bathroom does take longer with a corset, especially since I have shrunk somewhat in my torso since I bought it.

    4. Mouse*

      Regardless of what she’s wearing, that’s a really inappropriate comment to make at work. I’d be more concerned about that than the costume.

    5. Isarine*

      I’m *very* careful to lace my garb differently to avoid this on Halloween! Nothing more than one of my more daring work dresses or blouses would show.

      That said, we’re real estate, so it’s more flexible and depends on what your clients may or may not appreciate. I attract the nerds and more unconventional people, so they usually appreciate my costumes or nerdy accessories.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’ve got an adjacent costume, not Renaissance Fair but would work if I wanted it to. And I have actually worn it to (rare) work events. Including one the last couple weeks. The key is it’s not revealing.

    7. not the fashion police*

      Honestly that sounds like what one of the higher ups here wears on a regular business.

      No disrespect intended, she makes probably quadruple my salary if not more but man is it awkward.

    8. Siren of Sleep*

      Yep, that was my worry this morning as well. I’m wearing part of my getup from my last Ren Faire, but I ditched the corset, have on a long skirt, frock and am wearing a shawl on theme to cover my shoulders just in case. Just add on a ton of pouches and a flower crown with branches (All removeable!) you have a pretty decent forest druid style outfit.

    9. Richard Hershberger*

      Back in my SCA days we considered it cheating to wear SCA garb as a Halloween costume.

      1. starsaphire*

        I’ve only done it a couple of times (we consider it cheating out here too) but I always pick the nice multi layered Saxons with everything nicely covered.

        The bodice and skirts are not for office display. ;)

    10. Annie*

      Haha, I went to the renaissance Fair with my mother way back when, and after we returned she called it a “boobfest”! :)

    11. connie*

      I guffawed the guffaw of a person who recognizes how inappropriate the comment is but would also let slip the same inappropriate comment out of disbelief. And I am a lady.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      Or to quote MST about a young lady with amply supported assets–“She enters a room before she does.”

  5. NotBatman*

    There was a great thread a little while back with people suggesting Halloween costume ideas that can also pass as business casual in a pinch — I’ll have to see if I can find it.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I’ve done Indiana Jones several times at the office – just ditch the fedora, satchel, and whip and you’re indistinguishable from any other day in the office.

      1. Phony Genius*

        If they wanted to do it right, they should have had two of them dress as almost Waldos, and the third as the genuine Waldo.

      2. Justme, The OG*

        I have three coworkers dressed up as Waldo today. They’re all wearing red and white striped work-branded shirts though.

      3. Dek*

        My best friend flipped that script one year and went as Odlaw.

        Which was unfortunate, because he shaved all his facial hair but his mustache and it was creepy af. His wife wouldn’t kiss him until he’d shaved that off too.

    2. Lurker*

      Magritte’s The Son of Man would be a good choice. You could have the apple attached to the hat with a wire so it was removable (rather than painting it on your face).

      1. Calpurrnia*

        This is super fun and nerdy! … but I also guarantee nobody at my last 3 workplaces would have gotten the reference :(

        1. Lurker*

          One time way back in the late 90s/early 2000s – not long after the remake of The Thomas Crown Affair came out – I was at a Halloween party where several (4-5?) guys went as The Son of Man. The idea was to replicate what happens in the film, so you’d think, “Wait is that same guy I just saw over by the punch bowl?” It’s still one of my favorite group costumes I’ve seen.

          1. zuzu*

            I saw a really good group costume in NYC once: the running of the bulls in Pamplona. A bunch of people dressed in white with red neckerchiefs and a guy behind them with a bull head. Every now and again, they’d break out into a slow-motion run.

            1. Lurker*

              Yes, the NYC Halloween Parade is excellent for costume watching. It’s one of my favorite things in NYC!

            2. goddessoftransitory*

              I used to live in Ashland, OR, and the Halloween downtown party was legendary. This is huge theater town, so the costumes were off the hook. One of the best group costumes I saw was the Marquis de Sade with four or five women on long, jeweled leashes–all fully rigged up in dresses, shoes, wigs and makeup for the period.

            3. day late*

              I have always wanted to do a group “Hey Diddle Diddle” costume – cat/fiddle, cow/moon, little dog, dish, and spoon.

      2. Joielle*

        I did that one year! Not for the office but it would work there too. I put the apple on a stick so I could hold it in front of my face most of the time but take it down when trying to talk to someone. Great costume.

    3. Beth*

      A few times people in my office have dressed up as their work bestie (sometimes both of them dress as each other!) and that’s universally hilarious. It does need to be a good work friend, I think–imitating people can come off as mocking without the solid friendship in place–but very good.

      1. nnn*

        Reminds me of when I was in high school, and one halloween the goth kids and the hippy kids dressed up in each other’s clothes

      2. NotBatman*

        My husband and I dressed as each other, back when we worked in the same place. Still the most positive response I’ve gotten to a costume.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          A couple I know did something like this. His real name is Mario, but he dressed up as the Nintendo character Luigi. His wife then dressed up as HIM.

      3. Humble Schoolmarm*

        Not Halloween but “twin day” for school spirit week, about 5 of us all dressed up like the colleague who always wore a shirt and tie to work. 6 Mr. Ms were definitely a hit.

    4. Ranon*

      Our IT guy is rocking a great vampire costume today- white button down with collar up and cloak over, with cloak removed and collar down he’s totally back in standard dress.

    5. Anne of Green Gables*

      I am Minnie Mouse today. Black and white polka dot dress with black belt and pink cardigan. We’re hiring and I had 2 interviews for a part-time position today, I just took off the ears headband. I offered to my co-interviewer to swap out the pink cardigan for a black one but she said I was fine.

      Last year I was Red Riding Hood. When I took off the red cloak, I was just in a normal work dress. I did have a prop basket of fake food, but that was just for when I was student-facing, I didn’t carry it all day. (I work at a community college.)

      1. Diana*

        I also work at a community college–not a lot of students dressed up! I went as a frog… totally green outfit I would wear any day with green eye makeup and my hair in little buns on my head. No one got it, it was way too subtle–but I like that!

        1. Siren of Sleep*

          Maybe next time take some big googly eyes, then attach them to headband or hairclips? That way the eyes are conveyed but can be removed!

    6. the-honey-eater*

      My husband has been Clark Kent a few years in his stuffy office. Fake glasses, loosened tie, and a button down white shirt partially unbuttoned to show a Superman logo tee underneath.

    7. nnn*

      The Paper Bag Princess (from the Robert Munsch story of the same name) is a good costume to switch out of easily.

      Giant paper bag (like for yard waste) cut open to accommodate your arms and head, dollar store costume tiara, and whatever you happen to be wearing that day can go underneath.

      (Just remember to remove your tiara before going to the external client meeting!)

    8. nm*

      Instructors at my university like to do very simple witches and vampires–think, if you took off the hat/cape/fangs and put on a blazer you’d look like a business casual fellow who happens to enjoy wearing black.

      1. AnonORama*

        Always a good call! That’s what I did today – black satin blouse and skirt, black boots, crescent moon shaped necklace/earrings and a witch hat. I don’t usually wear head-to-toe black, but if (for example) I’d wound up needing to meet one of our funders, it would take 5 seconds to look totally work-appropriate. But, in the break room when we were doing a Halloween potluck, it looked like I made at least a minimal effort.

    9. Kari from Up North*

      I’m wearing olive green pants, a black top and black ankle boots – Grown Up Kim Possible. Because everybody come to me to ask about, fix or complain about the ‘sich’.

      1. (Health, Safety) Environmental Compliance*

        I LOVE this. And wish I would have thought of it for today!! Next year!

    10. Watry*

      Last year I went as Ms. Frizzle, in a solar system dress really meant for teachers–I liked it because it looks amazing on me, was available in my size, and had pockets, and I wear it somewhat frequently on weekends. Not quite business casual but appropriate for the position, and since I had customer counter duty that day I didn’t want people getting upset.

    11. Generic Name*

      One of my coworkers is a NASA engineer. She printed out a NASA logo and put it in her ID case. Super easy, super professional.

      I’m a bit less professional in that I’m wearing spiderweb tights with a black dress and spiderweb earrings. But on a Teams call, I look completely normal.

    12. MikeM_inMD*

      My go-to costume for the several decades has be “Middle-aged office worker”. I nail it every time.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        Add some creepy mirrored shades and a deadpan expression, and you can go for Men in Black. Occasionally ask a coworker if they’ve seen anything strange in the sky lately.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I was a Woman In Black at a haunted house some years ago–I hit them with a camera flash (neuralyzer) and suggested they had forgotten the tour and so had to go through again.

    13. t-vex*

      I went as genderbent Negan from the Walking Dead one year – leather jacket, white shirt, red bandanna, khaki skirt, and sh*t-kicker boots. I’m not sure anyone recognized it as a costume, but it made me happy.

        1. t-vex*

          Actually, I think someone gave the IT guy a toy Lucille as a gag a while back. He hangs it on a plaque in his cube.

    14. A-not-nymous*

      I’m a cowboy today. Flannel shirt with a bandana tied around my neck and a cowboy hat. If I take off the hat and bandana, I’m just in regular clothes I wear to my (fairly casual) workplace all the time.

    15. zuzu*

      One year I dressed as Septa Unella – just a maxi dress, a wimple (found a wimple tutorial), and a bell. I shame-walked a coworker across campus into her classroom, though I apparently temporarily deafened a few students who sat on the aisles as I marched her to the podium.

      That shame bell hits a little different indoors.

    16. Chocolate Covered Cotton*

      Ooh, stealth costumes…

      The best is vampire teeth. I did this once when I was working as a chauffeur for a limo company. They were pretty strict about dress code. For Halloween I dressed in the usual business formal dark 3-piece suit with some really good vampire teeth that were subtle enough that I could speak normally. I’d keep my mouth closed until the passenger asked if I was doing anything for Halloween then I’d turn and smile. Got a big laugh.

      Another chauffeur outdid me with something that wouldn’t fly today. He was in his normal black suit with really dark sunglasses. I watched him greet his passenger at the airport, politely take their luggage, then whipped out a folding white cane with red tip and tapped his way to the car to drive them to their hotel.

      I think he got spoken to about that but he remained a legend among the drivers for years.

    17. CR*

      Wear a blue apron, jeans, white t-shirt and kitchen towel – boom you’re a cook from The Bear. Take off the apron and you’re just in jeans and a t-shirt!

    18. Smithy*

      Price is Right contestant is a solid one where if you can get that style of name tag, it’s fairly identifiable and clearly easy to take off/on regular clothing. I do find it a good option to save for a situation where there’s an expectation to dress up but not a strong desire to….

    19. Dr. Doll*

      I went as Jane Goodall: Tan shirt, khaki pants, sensible shoes, straight blond ponytail, and baby chimp stuffie. Worked brilliantly.

    20. unstable marshmallow*

      I’m Wednesday this year! Black sweater, black skirt, white collared shirt, braids that can be taken out if necessary.

      1. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

        I also went for a soft halloween wednesday! White collared shirt under a long sleeved black dress. I skipped the braids/pigtails as my hair is a little short for that right now.

        I also have press on nails that are black french tips with a wee ghost on the accent nail, I also figure that’s pretty subtle. So far no one has commented on them at all which either means I’ve gone much too halloween or not nearly halloween enough!

        1. Arabella Flynn*

          Well, when you’re already three cats in a trenchcoat, I suppose another layer of disguise just adds to the mystique…

    21. Satan’s Panties*

      Fairy Godfather. Pinstriped suit, pinky ring, pointy shoes, pink gauze wings and sparkly wand. He grants you a wish you can’t refuse!

    22. Tammy 2*

      One of my most successful costumes was a stinging jellyfish! I wore red and carried a clear dome umbrella with red and orange streamers and curled ribbon hanging from the ribs. It was fun enough that I won a prize in the costume contest, but when I had to go to an important meeting all I needed to do was leave the umbrella at my desk.

    23. Legally Blonde*

      I am currently Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec today–I just wore a grey pantsuit I already owned, plus a Knope 2012 button and fake ID badge I got from Etsy. I’m a little more formally dressed than normal, but in a pinch I can remove the button/badge. I felt like it was very subtle, but everyone at work got it!

    24. MM*

      President Loki. That’s my outfit for today. Ditched the jacket since it’s 3 layers in sunny SoCal weather.

      Helm is removable and the green and black shirt/vest combos can pass for business casual.

    25. Reed Weird (they/them)*

      I’m rocking my Gomez Addams costume today, I’m more professional than usual! I have an actual pinstripe suit, not a Spirit Halloween suit, so the only thing making it costume is that I drew on the mustache (I usually present as a butch woman), slicked my hair back with black paste, and have a big fake cigar in my pocket.

    26. My cat's a cinnamon roll*

      Back in the 90s and early 2000s I went as Scully from the X-Files. Just a navy suit with a printed FBI badge.

      1. Azure Jane Lunatic*

        My costume the year I worked in a bakery (very strict about dress code for health reasons) was a black tie on the white uniform shirt and a printed “Infernal Revenue Service” name badge on top of my real badge.

    27. ThursdaysGeek*

      I’m the cross between database geekery and High School English Lit. I used duct tape to make the Windows Access Icon on a black tshirt. I’m “The Scarlet Database Letter”.

      Almost no-one gets it because the Venn Diagram of database geeks (who despise Access) and people who read Nathanial Hawthorne has almost no overlap, but it makes me smile.

    28. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Bilbo Baggins — switch from “Hobbit feet” slippers to regular shoes, turn your pants back down to full length, and you’re good to go.

    29. Nea*

      As Misha Collins pointed out in a meme, a man wearing a navy suit, white shirt, and tan trenchcoat can be Castiel, Harvey Dent, Constantine, Columbo, Fox Mulder and so, so many more… (including Season 2 Aziraphale if you add a fedora and a notebook).

      Women can never go wrong wearing all black, accessorized with vampire fangs, cat ears, or a witches’ hat.

    30. Nea*

      I suddenly realized that Barbie is SO popular this year that any of the Professional Barbie outfits are perfect office-worthy costumes.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        A lady in my dance class last night was literally just wearing a t-shirt that said (in the appropriate font) “Nurse Barbie”. I know enough actual nurses to know that, if Barbie were a real nurse, that is about the amount of energy she would have for a costume she was wearing to work on Halloween night.

        (I’m in a college town. I’m willing to be the ER will be VERY busy tonight.)

    31. Software Casual*

      I had a coworker go as the three legged man. He stuffed one pantleg inside the other, filled it with newspaper and pinned a shoe on the end, then belted it on over his normal pants. He’d walk around with his hands in his pockets so he could swing the third leg in time to his walking. So many of us did double takes because it looked normal but off at the same time.

    32. rh1812*

      This year I’m going as Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus series. If I had to, I could remove the wig and the space-themed earrings and I’d just be a regular office worker wearing a slightly quirky dress which is typical for me anyway (it’s a galaxy dress, I’m going as the Frizz from the “Lost in the Solar System” book). Plus, I work with a lot of former teachers, so that’s kind of extra work-appropriate for my employer.

    33. Soupspoon McGee*

      In my office job with sometime-meetings, I would wear all black and claim to be Johnny Cash. A few years ago, I wore mostly black with one long rainbow stocking and braided my red hair; that was my Wednesday Longstocking mashup (claimed a transporter accident). Now I’m in health care and wear themed clothes, like a skeleton dress, but I have a long cardigan to cover if needed.

    34. FlyingAce*

      I did “murderous lumberjack” once – our office was “casual” rather than “business casual”, so the flannel shirt, jeans and boots were not out of place. I waited until the time of the costume contest to do my makeup (mostly fake blood) and grabbed an “ax” I’d crafted the night before (an old broomstick, cardboard and aluminum foil) to complete the look.

  6. Old Woman in Purple*

    My compromise for acknowledging Halloween without dressing up in costume is to wear holiday-themed ear-rings. The rest of me is dressed as normal business-as-usual. (A spare ‘normal’ pair of ear-rings for meetings or other serious scenarios can easily be slipped into a pocket for a quick change, if necessary.)

    1. NotBatman*

      This is actually a good idea for the person wondering about a job interview on Halloween. I’m wearing a big orange pendant with a dragon-shaped clasp today, and it’s been a fun conversation starter while being within our strict dress code. LW5 could wear a spooky piece of jewelry or even just an orange top with black pants, if they want to do something a little fun without risking being over-the-top.

  7. cleo*

    I’m not a big fan of Halloween costumes in offices, but I do think it can be fun in customer facing roles. One year I happened to go to the DMV (dept of motor vehicles) to renew my driver’s license on Halloween and it was DELIGHTFUL. I was waited on by a mermaid and a lumberjack and I have never enjoyed dealing with bureaucracy as much as I did that day.

    1. Phony Genius*

      I once had a deli counter man dressed in a high-quality full Michael Keaton-style Batman suit. So weird to see him slicing meat.

    2. anonanon*

      One year a group of friends and I went to the symphony (in the evening) dressed as vampires — so, mostly nice sober formal clothes, but in goth colors and with added vampire fangs and dramatic makeup, etc. No one else that we saw in the audience had dressed up, but all the ushers had, and they were delighted to see us!

  8. Marna Nightingale*

    I feel like for LW 2 or anyone in a similar situation, it’s fairly easy to turn the conversation so that the overall effect isn’t wet-blankety:

    “I’m just really not feeling it this year — you look great, though! Where did you get THAT idea?”

    (If LW wasn’t dealing with a rough year but just didn’t love the actual dressing up there’s always the option of getting a couple of boxes of candy and a plastic pumpkin with a battery tea-light and declaring that your desk is dressed as “the house with the good treats”. Which I offer for the use of people who hate costumes as such but want to go along with the fun.)

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I have a colleague who, for whatever reason, doesn’t like to dress up (could be sensory issues). She really leans into this and also tends to take part by being our semi-official photographer. (Being a school, we put stuff up on the school website.)

    2. ecnaseener*

      I would suggest LW2 have a joke ready for how their normal outfit is actually a costume – Office Worker, Guy Who Forgot It Was Halloween, a random background character from a tv show or movie set in a workplace, etc. (Of course you don’t have to do this, but I think it’s the easiest way to avoid the issues with not playing along.)

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        One of my students came in in a tracksuit and when asked what he was dressed up as, replied “a teenager.”

      2. t-vex*

        Or the classic “This is my costume. I’m a homicidal maniac., they look just like everyone else.”

        1. Silver Robin*

          I did that as a high school senior after dressing up the previous three years. The dean of my grade asked me where my costume was and, in practiced monotone, I explained.

          She told me never to do that again because I nearly gave her a heart attack. success.

        2. Reluctant Mezzo*

          One guy at an SF con close to Easter dressed in a business suit and a briefcase–he was an IRS auditor!

      3. ElinorD*

        There is a thread on twitter of totally random/normal/boring Halloween costumes, like “Person who missed the train and has an excuse to be late for work.” (person juggling lots of stuff.)

        There is a better name for it, but I’m on a social media hiatus.

        1. Charleston Girlie*

          It’s the Japanese Mundane Halloween! You can find the threads on Twitter :) I loved the train one – when the train is late in Japan, they give you a ticket you can show your boss. So the costume was a worker who was already late (juggling things including a fresh Starbucks), but got the excuse with the ticket.

    3. mcm*

      was coming to say this! I think enthusiasm and support for the idea is likely to make a big difference, even if you don’t want to dress up! People don’t want to feel wet-blanketed or judged for being enthusiastic, so I think as much as you can make it clear that you’re not doing that, the better.

      1. Smithy*

        Yeah – I also get a lot of this vibe from some people who are disappointed or openly antagonistic that fewer people dress up for the theater. That very often it’s not coming from a place of actually believing the performers feel disrespected by people sitting respectfully in their jeans, but rather that they want those places where they can dress up and don’t feel like they can when others aren’t.

        Therefore, efforts to cheerlead those who are dressing up – especially when it is within the bounds of fun and workplace appropriate can do a lot of minimize any snark or heat for not participating.

  9. BellyButton*

    I love love Halloween. I am *that* house in the neighborhood. But I have never once dressed up at the office. I just can’t make myself be that cutesy or “fun” at work, it isn’t my style. The most I will do is wear a sugar skull scarf, that I wear most of the fall anyway. I also won’t wear ugly Christmas sweaters or themed holiday earrings either.

    People can do what they want, and I don’t think less of them, it just isn’t my thing.

    1. Common Sense Not Common*

      I agree. I’m all for making the workplace a safe place for people to participate in work appropriate ways, or choose not to participate.

      It is never okay to badger a colleague for the choice they made.

  10. Snow Globe*

    Saying you forgot about Halloween might not work (for the person who doesn’t want to participate). I tried that one year, and a coworker pulled out a box filled with extra costumes that she’d brought “just in case” someone didn’t have one.

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*


      Like, I love Halloween, but I would definitely not go that hard. I might have an extra pair of cat ear headbands or something (checking currently I actually do not have any in my desk), but that would be it. And I would only even think about offering something like that if someone was really, visibly upset that they somehow forgot to dress up for Halloween.

  11. MidWasabiPeas*

    I’ve always worked in casinos…and the guidelines are no hats , full face makeup, or face coverings (you have to be identifiable), nothing obscene or overtly sexual (no curse words or visual obscenities).

    There isn’t an exhaustive list of exactly allowed/un-allowed costumes (it would be 12 pages long) but if it’s offensive, you will be asked to change.

    1. MikeM_inMD*

      Except for the “no hats”, we had similar rules at a DoD facility I worked at with a big emphasis on the “your face must be recognizable”.

  12. Hannah Lee*

    The easily removable is key! At least at any workplace I’ve been in, because every day is usually “anything can happen day”

    I used to work at a company of several thousand employees, with a thousand or so at office complex where I worked. Many people dressed up in subtle ways, with cat ears or fake nametags with subtle wardrobe changes to be in character. But the payroll manage, who at the time personally delivered stacks of paychecks/pay statements to each department manager every payday loved to dress up on Halloween, or the pay day closest to Halloween. She show up as Raggedy Anne, Glinda the Good Witch, and at least one Halloween, in full gorilla costume. The entire day, she’d make her rounds, rarely speaking out of character. She never chose anything super scary, and it was always a “work appropriate” costume (such as no scantily clad wenches)

    The company itself wasn’t all in on holidays (though went all in on sales reps drinking themselves to oblivion at sales meetings) but she didn’t care. She loved it. She was also something like Employee #30, so she’d been there forever, her Halloween outfits were a fixture no manager would mess with.

    1. many bells down*

      I find that some good accessories can really make a regular outfit into something Costume. Today is just a tee, black pants, and boots, but throw the Pirate Coat and Hat on and now I’m In Costume. Ditch those and I can run errands afterwards.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yup, I just wear a witch’s hat along with a long black skirt and a black top with gold sparkly things on it. This year I added a cat necklace which I had just gotten for my birthday and I often put on green eye-shadow to make my eyes look extra-green. One of my colleagues actually asked if I came on the train like that and I was like “um, I just took off the hat and it’s just a black top and skirt.”

    2. Red Flags Everywhere*

      The bit about easily removable because you never know is huge! I don’t even wear jeans on casual Fridays because I ended up in an unscheduled meeting with the CEO one Friday and was mortified (I was the only person not in a suit).

  13. OrigCassandra*

    I came to work as the demon Furfur from Good Omens season 2 today, minus the sores-and-scars makeup he wears in hell.

    People seem to be into it, and it’s certainly not going to trip any too-much-skin radars.

    I’ve done Madame Tracy before, which is probably nearing the edge (the character is canonically a sex worker). Fortunately her main costume is three full (and long) layers, so those who don’t actually know the book/show or character will only see “loudly-dressed redhead.” Also I’m in academia, where the rules tend to be a little looser.

    1. Csethiro Ceredin*

      *waves to a fellow fan* I’m here as Crowley from Good Omens, because it’s work-appropriate clothes I already had with the sunglasses, snake tattoo and necklace (scarf?) and my hair sprayed red.

      One young woman is here as Western Barbie, and I’ve seen a few witch hats and such.

      But there is a clear winner here: one entire team came to work dressed as one of our managers, who is absolutely not the type to be offended.

      1. my cat is prettier than me*

        This year I’m just wearing orange, but in a previous job I dressed as femme Aziraphale!

        1. Csethiro Ceredin*

          We could have had made a good photo… femme Aziraphale sitting primly on a couch, knees together and hands folded, and femme Crowley sprawled all over the place.

          1. Good Enough For Government Work*

            I did stealth cosplay Crowley (skinny black faux-leather jeans, faux-snakeskin high-heeled boots, black waistcoat and blouse, ornate snake earrings and necklace, red lipstick) for a conference once. I was the keynote speaker, having never EVER been a conference speaker before, so I was very nervous. Dressing as Crowley for the day was a huge confidence boost, and nobody clocked me at all!

            (Although in the bar later, I pointed out what I was wearing to a fellow Good Omens nerd and they SHRIEKED with joy)

      2. OrigCassandra*

        LOL, Crowley you skiver!

        (I actually have to go to the hospital for followup care later today. I’m hoping there’ll be an Azirapapap — Aziraphalala — whatever his name is there.)

  14. mlem*

    I forgot the concept of costumes-at-work until a I had a video meeting an hour ago, in which two of seven participants had costumes (though one took hers off for being too hot). If I’d thought ahead, I might gone for “Depression Barbie”.

    1. Reluctant Mezzo*

      If there was a British version of the Barbie movie, I know who would be the Bad Barbie.

      “Hem, hem…”

  15. Sindirella (the Werewolf)*

    I am a werewolf today. Furry boot covers, ears, tail, fuzzy gloves, grey sweater and pants. And I popped in my vampire teeth for a little extra fun. So far everyone has loved it. Easy to make it fully business casual by just removing the fuzzy things (and a quick swish of some hot water will get the teeth to pop out), but overall, it’s not “scary” or “sexy” and I think it would fly in an even a more professional office space.

    1. Phony Genius*

      If you don’t like to dress up at all, you can just say you’re a werewolf when there’s no full moon out. Which would be a regular person.

  16. Single Parent Barbie*

    My work place is pretty casual, but its manufacturing. I missed the memo but we do dress up. I usually try to do something, so I am wearing dark jeans and boots, (Which is pretty much every day) and and a long sleeve shirt with skeleton torso on it. But we have quite the range here from someone wearing a pumpkin t shirt to someone wearing a fully inflated t rex costume.

    Ultimately I would not put nearly the time, energy or thought into a work place costume as I would a party costume. (My SO and I went to a party this weekend as Paul Sheldon and Annie Wilkes from Misery. He wore pajamas, used a cane, and I slapped a band aid on his head, I dress in an overall dress and flannel, carried a stuffed pig and a sledge hammer. )

    I think ultimately it depends on what you do, where you work and who you work for as well as the culture of the work site. I would love to say use common sense but we all know common sense is not all that common.

  17. em*

    Our office is having a small costume “contest” today (no actual rankings) but there weren’t any rules given. The only person in costume so far is a coworker wearing a bag of sugar in a front-carrier. Sugar mommy!

    I didn’t have time to get anything ready, so I went for an orange dress and green scarf with a spider brooch!

  18. Essentially Cheesy*

    I’m so glad that my employer goes no further than to pass out full size (nut free) candy to everyone at work.

  19. Kat Em*

    I usually just wear all black and a costume accessory, like cat ears, a witch hat, or butterfly wings. Easy enough to put on and take off and otherwise look business casual. But I do love it when people put more effort in than I care to! Group costumes are always fun as well.

    1. Elsewise*

      Go the Wednesday Addams route: “I’m a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.”

  20. Anon, everyone at work has seen my costume plenty*

    I wear a black top, black skirt, pointy black shoes, black and silver spider web cloak, black witches hat (festooned with spiders, netting, crow feathers, black roses), silver or amethyst or jet jewelry — unless it’s stupid hot and humid, in which case I ditch the witchy shoes and cloak and choose a lightweight top. The hat is easy to take off.

    Some years ago a couple of colleagues came as Thing One and Thing Two, it was pretty awesome.

    I work in higher ed, but not high up, and lots of student contact, so it’s all good.

    1. Bruce*

      I remember my kids’ teachers would dress up (and the kids too of course), my younger kid’s 1st grade teacher had a Princess Leia white gown, she wore her strait brown hair up in the ear whorls and it was very effective! I think she wore that costume every year. My wife and I go as Elderly Leia and Han, rocking our grey hair and early 60s physiques!

    2. coffeespoons*

      Your outfit sounds awesome! I also work in higher ed, in what is a mostly student-facing position. Our particular office is leans hard on the “casual” side of business casual on normal days, and today I’m wearing a solid black dress with skeleton torso, matching leggings, and a couple of pieces of skeleton jewelry. It’s not a “costume”–this is basically how I dress in my off hours because I’m a “Halloween is every day” sort of human, but I love having an excuse to get away with wearing skeleton clothes to the office. I’ve done something similar every year–festive, but not costumed–and the only times anyone has ever said anything about it has been to compliment me, so it’s never been a problem. It no doubt helps that I’m not in an area like donor relations, or event planning for people alleged to be Very Important. Students tend to respond very positively!

  21. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    I shall be wearing my new tiara today for handing out candy. Its a little heavy to wear while working. One thing I have found about wearing tiaras — they are awesome for posture. You have to hold your head very straight and still to keep them in place.

    1. Reed Weird (they/them)*

      Very off topic, but depending on your tiara’s design you might be able to add ribbon or elastic to pin it in place! Check for loops at the ends of the tiara, or for circle crowns inside the circle near the base. You can tie ribbon or elastic that matches your hair color between the loops, and then bobby pin that into your hair to keep the crown in place.

      1. Arabella Flynn*

        Wig clips. You can get little ones at Sally Beauty. Or, if you want to be able to take it off with enough force, magnets on the tiara and several bobby pins in your hair. The pins are made of steel, and the tiara will withstand a fair amount of shaking.

        1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

          People who wear ‘real’ tiaras often sew them into their hair, think a little braid behind the base, which can be used to brace it.

          (There are blogs.)

  22. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

    My office’s basic rule is that the costume or makeup cannot block your face.

    In past years, I’ve stuck with a “Charlie Brown” shirt (yellow with zigzag black line) or a Star Trek DS9 captain’s uniform.

  23. Cat Lover*

    My old company was super into Halloween. Each office picked a theme and dressed up, then everyone submitted a group picture and we voted. It was super fun! One year we did Pac-Man, last year was stranger things.

  24. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

    I always dress up for Halloween. It’s pretty common in my profession, working with students. For me it’s one of the major perks of my job, being able to dress up for Halloween, because it is my favorite holiday.

    That being said, I tend to go with pretty straightforward costumes–fairytale characters, book characters, and usually outfits that are essentially modifying regular clothes; a black dress plus a hat and maybe a cape=witch, black dress plus cat ears=cat, fancy dress plus tiara=princess, fancy dress plus wings=fairy, that sort of thing. Blue checked dress plus red shoes, pigtails, and a basket with plush dog=Dorothy. Blonde wig plus pink clothes=Barbie. That sort of thing. I need to still be able to do my job.

    I avoid gore because it’s messy and more makeup than I want to do, honestly. But also, just in general, it’s good to avoid costumes that purposely creep people out. And I would never wear a costume that exposed a lot of skin or was “sexy”, because it’s work. I have some onesie character pajamas that I probably could wear to work as a costume, but I haven’t because I would feel weird using the work bathrooms given how much you have to strip down when wearing a onesie.

    As far as decorating goes, I put up some ghosts and black cats in my cube and call it a day. The real decorating I do at home/in my yard, where I can start putting things up mid-September if I want.

  25. thatoneoverthere*

    Today I did my eye makeup to look like spider webs on the corners. I also am rocking my McDonalds BooBucket earrings.

    No affiliation I just love them!

  26. I'm just here for the cats!*

    This is where the line should be:
    *No dressing up as other cultures (native Americans/ indigenous, japeneese etc) or people with disabilities (down syndrome, crippled/wheelchair user, etc)
    *Do not dress up as someone in an insane asylum. I know it’s fun to watch stuff about haunted hospitals and asylums but mental illness is not a Halloween costume and the things that went on in those institutions prior to the 1970s was horrible (and some places its still horrid)
    *Nothing gruesome, overtly sexual, etc.
    *Don’t dress up as another coworker unless you get their permission and they are cool with it (like you dress up as each other). It can be really hurtful.
    * If you are dressing up to be mean just don’t do it. It’s not funny.

    1. Elsewise*

      I would add “nothing political”. I had a friend circa the 2012 election dress as “Binder Full of Women” (her boyfriend dressed as a “Sexist Pig”- he had a pig nose and opened every conversation with a sexist joke). This was hilarious for a party, but probably wouldn’t have been great for work. I also had a (white) boss dress up as Colin Kapernick one year. He didn’t do blackface, but he did wear an afro wig and kneel, which he thought was hilarious. Unfortunately he was high up enough and unreasonable enough that no one was able to call him out on it.

      1. Bruce*

        I remember going to see a show on Castro Street in SF back in 2012 the weekend before Halloween, there were several people in high quality early 60s Jacquie O drag (pill box hats and tailored skirts) wearing binder covers strapped around their nether regions… had a good laugh! (To be clear the show was Alton Brown talking about food, nothing raunchy

  27. H.Regalis*

    One of my favorite simple costumes I’ve seen someone do was their normal work outfit with a Venetian mask. If you can find one that doesn’t obscure your vision, it’s great, because if anything serious comes up, you can just take it off.

  28. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m hating Halloween this year at work . working on these Halloween decorations! Finding a costume! I love Halloween because I don’t have to do anything

    1. Dek*

      That’s the thing! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because you can literally do as much or as little as you want to celebrate it. Halloween is a vibe. It’s supposed to be *fun* with no obligations (unlike, say, Christmas, which is fun, but has a LOT of obligation for most folks who celebrate). If a Halloween thing isn’t fun for you, you don’t do it and that shouldn’t be an issue for anyone.

  29. Jesse*

    My office is very into Halloween. It used to be that areas of the office and/or departments did themes with office decorations, snacks, costumes, activities, skits, whatever, but now we are mostly remote, so groups do video skits. I was in the office yesterday and spent a lot of the afternoon in a sheet ghost costume shooting video for our group’s presentation.

  30. AnonyNurse*

    I think I’ve shared this before, but I’m reminded again.

    Years back, I worked for an agency that did work with the children’s hospital. I was invited to participate/staff a table at an event that was towards the end of October, but the date didn’t even occur to me. I dressed in jeans and a sweater. When I arrived, I saw that every child AND every adult were dressed in Halloween costumes. My contact at the hospital forgot to tell me, as I was the only non-employee involved. I looked like the one grown up who just wouldn’t do fun things.

    So the next year, I was invited back. I wore my dinosaur onesie. I was READY. And … the whole hospital staff had gotten matching t-shirts. And my contact forgot to tell me. Again. So while the kids were dressed up, I was the only adult in a costume.

    I had fun. The kids had fun. I’ve moved across the country. Still makes me laugh.

    1. Nightengale*

      I did an October pediatrics rotation in medical school on an inpatient unit but in an adult hospital. No one dressed up. I think someone had pumpkin earrings and one of the nurses wore themed scrubs. It was so strange – I had thought if there was one place you could dress up for Halloween it would be in pediatrics! I was relieved when I did my actual pediatrics training a year later elsewhere and many of the doctors and nurses dressed up.

    2. DannyG*

      My first year of clinical rotations I drew PEDs in October. The chief of service declared that, if the kids couldn’t go out for Halloween, we would bring Halloween to them. Lucky for me my brother was stationed at a nearby Air Force base. I borrowed a flight suit and already had boots and a helmet he no longer wore. It was a lot of fun and the kids and families really enjoyed the effort everyone put into making the day special.

  31. LawBee*

    Re LW2:
    I haven’t donned a consume for Halloween since my late twenties, and I never will again. It’s just not my thing.

    And that is what I have always told coworkers who want me to dress up. “Oh, I won’t be dressing up, it’s not something I enjoy.” ONE time, I got pushback, but when I asked the coworker if she was really asking me to do something I didn’t like just because she enjoys it, she backed down.

    I happily fly the Freedom From Obligatory Costuming flag. Y’all have fun, just leave me out of it.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      I actually really love that reasoning/explanation. It’s the most obvious thing in the world, but there are so many situations where that exact phrasing would be useful. I’m going to steal it, if you don’t mind!

  32. thatoneoverthere*

    I once went on an interview on Halloween. It was an odd day to interview. The office really got into celebrating and everyone was in costume. Which normally I would think is awesome. I love Halloween. But it was a little odd for Halloween. The person interviewing me was in a really skimpy outfit, fishnets and stilettos. Others wear dressed to the max too. I didn’t end up getting the job, but it was a memorable experience!

    1. Nightengale*

      I interviewed someone once where I was wearing a Glinda costume. Once I took off the tiara and put down the wand, I was just in a slightly too fancy for work pink dress with some silver stars stuck on it. But also, we were both pediatricians and everyone in our department already knew her.

  33. I Speak for the Trees*

    I’ve worked in offices where we had full-on Halloween parties, and most people managed to stay pretty appropriate. The closest I ever came to cultural appropriation was a German Octoberfest dress, but I absolutely am German. At my current office, I keep it low-key, I wore all black with fuzzy cat ears

  34. Ms.Vader*

    I am currently only 1 of 2 people dressed up and I just have drawn spider legs crawling out of my eyes and mouth. I love Halloween and am so sad my coworkers this year didn’t do anything! Usually my department has a lot of people dress up!

  35. Peon*

    My philosophy for work costumes has generally been “easily removed accessories”, like hat and cloak, or one year I wore all brown and made a hershey kiss hat. We used to have a lunch time Halloween party and most people with more elaborate costumes would dress up just before lunch and then go back to (mostly) business clothes after.

  36. Marvin O’Gravel Balloonface*

    This morning I texted my husband to ask if anyone else in his office had come in costume. Since he was dressed like he normally does, he expressed confusion as to his “costume”… Which I told him was obviously “sexy HisJob.”

    You all probably still have time to pull this on your SOs, is what I’m saying.

    1. Norm Peterson*

      Mine said it was too cold to go as slutty llama groomer, so they were going as sexy llama groomer. They make this joke every year.

    2. Mill Miker*

      This backfired, I just got a “What, so I’m not normally a sexy HerJob? Wow.”

      (all in jest, of course)

  37. FakeEleanor*

    I might have shared this once upon a time, but the only office costume I’ve ever worn was just tying a green ribbon around my neck with my normal business casual clothes. I worked in a law firm at the time, not the sort of place where people dress up, but to most people it just looked like a slightly odd necklace. One or two people got it, though, and seemed to love it.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      That and the Scary Stories book were the ones my elementary school classmates and I literally fought over at reading time. We were a pack of little ghouls even back then.

      1. Sally Rhubarb*

        I remember doing book reports in 2nd grade and my friend covered that story. He even brought in a doll that when he pulled off the ribbon, her head fell off. I LOVED it.

        We’d also try to see who could look at the illustrations in the Scary Stories books because they were so disturbing.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          The Thing, Clinkety-Clink, The Bride, and the one with the woman buried in the basement were THE WORST.

          Yes, I have these books memorized.

      1. Stipes*

        Classic scary story involving a lady who never takes off a green ribbon around her neck (~~~ spoilers ~~~ it turns out that she was decapitated before her SO met her, and her head falls off when he removes the ribbon)

    2. coffeespoons*

      Oh I LOVE that. So subtle, but so good!

      Also, if you’ve not read Carmen Maria Machado’s take on “The
      Girl with the Green Ribbon”, I HIGHLY recommend. It’s one of the short stories in her collection titled Her Body and Other Parties, a collection that has enough horror-adjacent stories that it is 100% excellent seasonal reading.

  38. anononon*

    My Facebook memories reminded me that this time in 2019 I (from the UK, ambivalent at best at Halloween) was visiting one of our US offices. I spent the day surrounded by skeletons, ghosts, a lady with an awesome fake snake, an array of pumpkin hats, bat hats, cat hats and and a whole-ass T-Rex, and yet somehow we managed to have a full-day training session including interactive group work.

    (I had run to Walmart the night before and was sporting a HIDEOUS pumpkin tshirt and pair of HIDEOUS pumpkin earrings. They were straight to the charity shop when I got home)

  39. Frickityfrack*

    I love dressing up for Halloween – I’m a mummy today, and have dressed as a pumpkin, Pippi Longstocking, a spider queen, the Rabbit of Caerbannog, and so on. In my current job, I work with a lot of kids of various ages, so I go for cuter stuff but my priority is always A) is it comfortable? and B) is it warm? and so far, that’s served me well. The head of our org is dressed as a boxer today, so even if I had a real fancy meeting, I’d be fine. That said, no one gets crap for not dressing up and everyone keeps it appropriate, so it’s all good here. I’ve definitely worked at places that were noooot so good at those rules.

  40. Tradd*

    Years ago, I worked at a place with a really toxic manager. She was really into what I called “forced gaiety.” She thought as long as something was fun, no one would get offended. She was trying to force everyone in the office to dress up for Halloween. I didn’t want to as I came to work to work, not to play dress up, plus I much preferred being comfortable. There was another women, from another country, who was very religious. The toxic manager kept trying to strong arm her into dressing. Thing is, manager wasn’t her boss! She just thought she was over the entire office. The very religious woman ended up going to HR, who put their foot down and told my toxic boss to stop. Man, was she angry. She seriously could not understand why the employee went to HR.

  41. Dust Bunny*

    I’m Freda Krueger: Red and olive striped dress (I cannot believe I found this fabric); black knee socks; brown lace-up boots. I have a hat and glove but am not wearing them until the actual bark-or-treat this evening. The dress is a pattern I use for most of my everyday dresses so it’s exactly like my regular office clothes, and I wear light boots all the time, anyway. No skin, no boobs, no gore, no impeded movement.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I work for an institution that draws a lot of students from countries where Hallowe’en either isn’t a thing at all, or is nowhere near as big a thing as it is in the US, and the reactions range from slightly freaked out to completely mystified to one girl from Lebanon who was running around frantically trying to photograph everything because she’d been trying to explain Hallowe’en to her family and needed pictures. I was wearing a pumpkin-topper headband and my mom’s jack o’lantern T-shirt that year.

  42. nora*

    One year I worked at a supposedly high-end restaurant and the front-end staff were absolutely forbidden from wearing ANYTHING even vaguely Halloween-related. Not even orange/green/purple earrings that weren’t shaped like anything in particular. NOTHING. Meanwhile all the staff at the attached equally high-end grocery store looked spectacular. By the next Halloween the restaurant failed and the entire corporation was thrown into bankruptcy. Nothing of value was lost.

  43. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

    I work as a public librarian with the youths (yay teens), and I’m pretty sure the unwritten rule is not to wear anything that’ll make a child cry.

    Right now we have some staff dressed as princesses, and characters from a popular Dr Seuss book.

    1. Julia*

      I’m a public librarian (adult services) and I’m President Barbie. We have some youth services staff in some low key animal costumes (animal ears and tails) and such.

      The unspoken rule for adults also seems to be nothing that would freak someone walking up to the desk.

      1. Our Lady of Shining Eels*

        The only time I got a double take was when I dressed as Miss Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson Is Missing. Kids were fine, but the parents got very wide-eyed before bursting into laughter.

        1. Sister Michael*

          That was my mom’s go-to costume!! She taught kindergarten-second grade and would read her students the book on Halloween.

  44. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish*

    I worked my first real job out of college in a State Government office. It was 2013, and I was feeling clever, so I decided to dress up as the government shutdown. I got the blue donkey and red elephant beanie babies and velcroed them to the shoulder pads of a suit jacket I work, and got a “sorry, we’re closed” sign and hung it around my neck.

    I didn’t realize that one of the traditions at my new workplace was the “Halloween Parade”, where everyone who wore a costume had to go up to the office of the Secretary of State, the elected official in charge of our entire division, and show off our costumes. Fortunately he had a good sense of humor, but I was both terrified and embarrassed. I still like making clever costumes for social parties, but the ones I wear to work are always milquetoast.

    1. Julia*

      I had a library job where I dressed up as a stereotype of a librarian. I wore the frumpiest outfit, wig in a bun, glasses on a chain etc etc. My library coworkers donated pieces to the costume. I jokingly shushed people. My new library head asked me what my costume was and I shushed her. The room went dead silent and I was filled with regret. Then she cracked up. PHEW.

  45. CherryBlossom*

    Here’s a fun anecdote with maybe a lesson to trust your intuition:

    I started my job recently, and was put in charge of organizing the halloween festivities. I was told multiple times that people go All Out™ for their costumes, people were volunteering to help left and right, and we were given a ludicrous budget for both food and activities. All signs point to big party vibes, right? As a cosplayer, I was excited to bust out some of The Good Stuff, as it were.

    But something didn’t sit right. As the day grew closer, I expected people to get more excited. But they didn’t. No office chatter about group costumes, no requests for specific candy, not even that much excitement for the happy hour (in a start-up culture that loves its happy hours!) Something in my gut was telling my Halloween-Happy self to calm it down a little.

    So I did; simple amazon decorations in one corner of the office, a few bowls of candy, and my elaborate Kiki’s Delivery Service costume (Complete with broom, cat plushie, and wicker basket full of bread plushies) swapped for a sensible business casual Wednesday Addams.

    I came in perfectly matching the low-key vibes (the most elaborate costume here is an orange shirt printed to look like a container of Tide with a tide pod hat), and vastly under-budget. Sometimes, even when given what may seem like explicit expectations, you gotta trust your gut!

  46. CommanderBanana*

    I’m dressed as a 1960s Barbie, so the only parts of my “costume” are bright aqua eyeshadow and a stick-on nametag that says Barbie.

  47. Unicorn by Day, Knitter by Night*

    I’m wearing a headband with a unicorn horn, ears, and fake flowers that fetchingly match my sweater. Standing in the lobby of the building, a man I don’t know went on at length about how much he liked it. I wished him a Happy Halloween, to which he replied “Oh right! It’s Halloween” and seemed disappointed to find out I’m not a full time unicorn.

    1. Red Flags Everywhere*

      That is absolutely hilarious! I’m imagining his internal dialog after you fessed up that it was for Halloween. Poor fella! LOL

  48. Audogs*

    So, I didn’t have anywhere to put this, but since we’re kind of talking about how Halloween has been co-opted by adults … I listen to the Dateline podcast. Today, Halloween, they posted their previous episode about a “zombie” killer, an evil evil guy who killed at least 2 young women. So, zombie on Halloween … IMHO really tone deaf and exploitive and I feel icky.

    1. Kaden Lee*

      Isn’t Dateline always at least a little disturbing? I think it’s fine to make a spooky/scary/creepy episode of a thing that’s already for adults. Noble Blood’s episode for Halloween was about Eleanor Cobham, who was accused of treason and necromancy (as in speaking with spirits).

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        Poor Eleanor Cobham… (I get sad about her whenever I remember her name…especially as her involvement with ‘witchcraft’ seems to have begun as seeking fertility treatments)

  49. SchuylerSeestra*

    Ive worked remotely for the past 5 years, which makes it easy to adapt my costume if needs be.

    I’m currently dressed as my 3 year old niece. I’m wearing a romper with a whimsical top underneath, and have a bow in my hair. I took the bow off for client facing calls.

    When I worked in an office my go to was the TARDIS from Doctor Who. I wore a blue dress with window decals and a black hat that said “Police Box”.

    I was also Katherine Johnson a few years ago. I wore a vintage dress, cat eye glasses and a cardigan.

  50. Isarine*

    I work in real estate, sales and rentals both, and tenants have either not cared or loved my costumes. We’re also a small, local company and I’m the only one who goes all out. Clients… well, most would not care or love, and the few that might I very carefully schedule for other days (or sadly miss a Halloween day to dress up). I cosplay and do rennfaire on the side, so I’ve got a lot of choices. I try to pick ones that are easy to get into (I’m bad at mornings) and don’t interfere with my ability to do my job, and aren’t sexy. I don’t do gore in general.

    This year I am Keyleth from the actual play Critical Role/animated Prime show Legend of Vox Machina. No contacts and just a hint of makeup, and no staff. So far a few weird looks and a lot of compliments!

  51. LadyAmalthea*

    I have a fake beard I crocheted years ago that ties around my head. Easy to take on and off, fits in my pocket, and I made it so I can eat and drink when it’s on, which was handy because my office complex had a homemade barmbrack gathering today.

    1. Verde*

      Ooo, second mention of barmbrack I’ve seen this week, I’ve only just now learned what it is! I don’t know how I’ve never heard of it before, but now I’m determined to try some.

  52. SequinPantaloons*

    my office is hybrid and I come in 1 day a week, so I’ve been wearing knee length dresses with ridiculous socks or tights all month (i.e. 5 times). Cats, trees, galaxy/stars and the Tardis. Business on top for Zoom and party on the bottom for my colleagues I see in the hallways/kitchen.

    1. Maotseduck*

      There are four people on my floor dressed up today. I’m a skeleton in city planning, engineering’s HR tech is a cat, we have a hippie in parks and rec, and the woman in charge of the city budget is Sally from NBC. We had a potluck that was pretty popular though. I feel like we have just enough going on.

  53. Dek*

    Could always borrow a page from Wednesday Addams: “I’m a homicidal maniac. They look just life everyone else.”

  54. Glazed Donut*

    When I initially joined my fully-remote job years ago, the company decided it would be great to make each office dress up for Halloween and submit the themed photo (for judging!).
    Sitting at home in a costume alone during the day was a different type of experience. Sure, no one was around to see me…but also it felt like I was playing dress up by myself! A co-worker took all our pictures (on video calls) and then photoshopped us into a scene, so the end result wasn’t bad – just not something I want to replicate.
    Here’s hoping for some better ideas for all-remote employee engagement :)

  55. Katie*

    Nothing to add here except to say my kids bus driver dressed as Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus this morning and it delighted the crap out of me.

  56. Lisanthus*

    Not my costume, but I once (pre-pandemic) had to be in Denver airport at oh-god-early on Halloween morning.

    TSA was NOT dressing up thank you very much. Various airline staff got into the fun and were dressed as elves and princesses and such.

    The clear winner, though, was a tall man with a shaved head, wearing dark slacks and a muted shirt and an airport badge of some kind on a lanyard.

    And two huge, theatrical-grade, blood-red spiral horns attached to his head.

    His posture was impeccable as he strode through the concourse not speaking or smiling. You could track his passage as arriving passengers and other airport employees and kiosk vendors opening up for the day all stopped in their tracks to stare.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      It wasn’t Hallowe’en but I once picked someone up at the airport and as we were leaving we drove past a John Wayne impersonator in full cowboy costume putting his bags in a taxi. He looked exactly like John Wayne. It was amazing.

      (This was about 15 years ago so it was very definitely not the real John Wayne.)

  57. TLH*

    One thing we do is pick a theme for the office costumes, which is reasonable and easy to follow. Themes have included 80s clothes, M & M (wear a M & M color T shirt), Barbie (wear pink). People don’t have to participate but it allows for costumes without worrying about what others will think.

    1. Verde*

      I used to work at a well-known, very hip public radio music station and we did Halloween big every year, including an open house/trick-or-treat around the offices “for the kids”. I tried really hard one year to get everyone to go in a united costume of “corporate radio” – tattoos covered, “normal” hair color, business casual clothes [every single person in khaki pants], get some corporate lobby art from Goodwill and swap out the signed posters and gold records for it, play the commercial station on our house speakers, and so on. I thought it was brilliant, but no one would go for it with me.

  58. Mischief & Mayhem*

    Our company has a board meeting today, so I wore slacks and a blouse…under an inflatable 7 1/2 foot T-Rex costume. Easy to remove the costume and look presentable!

  59. Marketing Ninja Unicorn*

    I am wearing tiny, glow-in-the-dark ghost earrings that my daughter picked out for me. I’m also wearing Halloween-themed socks (bats, jack o’lanterns, candy corn) but you can’t see them under my pants and ankle boots.

    Our HR rep is wearing a cat-ears headband, our executive director is wearing a Hocus Pocus-themed scarf, and most other people aren’t doing anything.

    My daughter’s school called a dress-down day in ‘Halloween’ colors, so she is wearing orange pants with cats on them and an orange sweatshirt that says ‘trick or treat.’

    I think it’s always better to err on the side of cute Halloween or generic Halloween rather than go for blood/guts/gore/scare factor, as we saw with an earlier letter.

    1. 1LFTW*

      OK, so my brain scrambled this and on the first go-around I read that your cat dressed up as an HR rep.

  60. HR Exec Popping In*

    I am so not a fan of costumes at work. Not because I’m anti costume but because they almost always go badly. Just earlier today a friend texted me an image from a video call with a co-worker and that person was wearing a sumo wrestler costume. A two-fer: cultural appropriation and fat shamming. Way to be classy.

  61. Turanga Leela*

    For the person who wants to take Halloween off: Taking a day off for a private holiday is one of the great joys of being an adult with paid time off.

  62. Abe Froman*

    I started a new job 3 weeks ago, and my new workplace did a costume contest. I went as “Person with their face blurred out by Google Maps.” I taped a circle of parchment paper to my glasses. Took about 5 minutes of effort. Didn’t win a prize, but people found it funny!

  63. Midwest Manager*

    My last workplace (a hospital) had a very clear policy about costumes (and mostly only people working in the Children’s Hospital would really dress up), which was helpful. In a prior workplace, our female janitor came as a dominatrix—leather chaps and high boots over skin tight jeans, a leather bustier that served up much cleavage, and a whip! Super out of place (esp as this was a municipal government town offices, so entirely public-facing) and she had not a clue. That same year, one of the clerks (like where you go to pay fines, so again, totally public-facing job) had an elaborate Marvin the Martian outfit, which was terrific…until she got hot and took off the hood/headpiece and then she was just….in BLACKFACE while waiting on the public. My boss (essentially the diversity officer) hadn’t seen the full costume and had apoplexy. We had to have a quiet word with the employee that she either had to keep the headpiece on, or wash her face.

  64. Turanga Leela*

    I think the interview-on-Halloween question has come up before, and I always have the same reaction: I would never wear a costume to an interview, but I would absolutely wear my small, otherwise work-appropriate Halloween earrings. (Mine are ghosts, but here’s a similar idea in candy corn: https://www.baublebar.com/products/all-treats-no-tricks-earrings?_pos=3&_sid=f919435e2&_ss=r)
    There are workplaces that would not like this, so I can’t exactly recommend this approach to other people. For me personally, though, if a workplace cannot handle ghost earrings worn with a conservative suit, it’s probably not going to be a good fit.

    1. La Triviata*

      My Halloween earrings are small crystal skulls suspended from ear wires with tiny black ribbon bows.

  65. Grim*

    I work in an aged care home, in a country (Australia) where Halloween is becoming more popular, but it’s a recent enough trend that most of our residents would not be used to celebrating it (let alone those with dementia who I think were pretty confused about the whole thing!). Somebody in management or lifestyle went all out with the decorations this year, complete with fuzzy spiders and cartoon skeletons and fake cobwebs, and all of the staff were encouraged to dress up. I decided not to participate, even though I love Halloween and dressing up, because my job as a personal carer would make most costumes pretty sweaty and inconvenient (I did wear spooky skull-patterned socks though. Just for me). One of the nurses showed up dressed as a fairy, which I think was a pretty good call, because even the residents who didn’t quite grasp what was going on thought it was cute and delightful. Another nurse dressed up in a fake-blood-splattered “scary nurse” costume that I thought would have been very funny for an after-work party, but maybe in slightly poor taste at the actual workplace!

    1. DannyG*

      My late sister, all 4’11” of her, was a nurse for 45 years. The last 15 years were in physical rehabilitation. She milked her diminutive size by dressing as an elf or leprechaun or fairy for various holidays.

  66. Random Bystander*

    When I first started working after moving states, I was in a separate building from the hospital proper and my supervisor was a huge Halloween fanatic. Not choosing to dress up for Halloween would have had consequences. I went pretty low effort but at least obvious ‘costume’. For example, I could wear the same t-shirt as one of my sons who was in Little League. So I wore the shirt (which even had our last name on the back) and a pair of gray sweat pants and “I’m a Little Leaguer”.

    The company then got sold to another, larger company (and we physically moved locations when the hospital did–the top floor was office/classroom space), the new employer did not permit dressing up for Halloween. Said former supervisor (who started as a supervisor and then had to step down to an individual contributor level like my own) was quite unhappy. Most of the rest of us didn’t care. The only difference was that they did have an on-site day care, and they would bring the kids up to the offices to trick or treat, so I’m make sure to have something to hand out (unfortunately, I could not choose Payday bars, which are one of my favorites, because they are peanuts–but I was able to find something else that I liked all right). We moved to working from home after that, and it has not been an issue since (thankfully), though I do get the idea that my current employer wouldn’t be a fan of dressing up, either.

    I have a much more neutral-to-favorable feeling about the whole thing since not being (unofficially) required to participate.

  67. Noncompliance Specialist*

    We had a staff meeting and Halloween luncheon just this afternoon and our new HR Director is wearing a Native American costume. We’re a very liberal nonprofit organization (not saying it’s okay elsewhere though). It’s really making me doubt her judgement going forward…

  68. Mornington Cresent*

    I usually just end up wearing Halloween-y earrings (cute pumpkins, bats, etc), or a themed blouse (it has cats and dogs in costumes on it!), as we don’t tend to dress up in my office.

    There was one year in a previous job, however, where we were encouraged to dress up and I went as a pirate!
    I found a pirate hat, cutlass and eyepatch in Poundland (I didn’t wear the eyepatch on my face, but around my wrist instead- too hard to wear with glasses). I had a pair of big gold hoop earrings and a big gold ring with a skull on it for accessories.
    The rest of my outfit was a blue and white stripy shirt, a red paisley bandana, brown trousers that I ragged up the ends for effect, stripy socks and loafers. I think I had some gold chocolate coins in a pouch and a homemade treasure map too.

    It was pretty cheap- I think I spent £15 if that- and everyone immediately knew what I was (even if all I heard all day was “pirates aren’t Halloweeny!”), but I had fun wearing it. I was customer facing, and the customers loved it too.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, there’s more emphasis on Halloween being scary, and that the costume should be scary in the UK, but pirates are super dark, if you think about it.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I feel pretty uncomfortable with what feels like a shift towards real-life scary instead of pretend-scary. Witches, zombies and ghosts? Great! Favourite animal, profession or vehicle? Amazing! Murdered schoolchild? I don’t like it. Around where I live (north west England), a lot of houses have fake bloody handprints on the windows and doors, and it just sits wrong with me. I guess I feel like something that could happen and wouldn’t be remotely entertaining is a bit over the line. Dunno, I’m a stick in the mud.

  69. Zephy*

    Current Job is a university, apparently a bunch of faculty decided to dress up today in pajamas, which would have been fun. I have footie pajamas printed all over with kittens. I could have been a cat lady or just a walking kitten-pile. But the PJs are very warm – I would have needed to bring a whole backup outfit to change into when I inevitably couldn’t stand it anymore (although my office does stay pretty chilly). I have some spooky jack o’ lantern face press-on nails that are only a little bit difficult to type with, and otherwise I’m a [University] Employee today.

    A previous job at an animal shelter saw more participation. We had group costume contests by department, so one year the managers went as Super Mario Kart characters, complete with cardboard karts with balloons attached. The kennel staff dressed as cats and dogs (easy to remove ears/tails if they got in the way), and even made kennel cards for themselves, which they hung around their necks during the contest. Some of them even grabbed spare collars and accessorized with them, LMAO. The front desk staff were a feral cat colony (cat ears with one eartip missing), that kind of thing.

  70. Bird Lady*

    My museum-world costumes were usually historically informed. Lots of times I just picked a trade that women did during WW2 and wore my “Free a man to fight” button. Easily explained if a major donor walked in the door, since we were delivering programming that day. My other favorite historic costume was suffragette, because wearing an over-the-top white dress can be very fun, and I have lots of “Votes for Women” pins and broaches.

    These days I work remotely at home, but trick-or-treat starts before the end of my day. So this year I’m in my jeans, sweater, flannel shirt-jacket, and a cowboy hat. Pretty much everything but the hat came from my normal wardrobe. I might seem like a generic cowgirl, but I’m Raylan Givens this year. Hat comes off for any Zooms.

  71. Worldwalker*

    I wfh; I’m wearing a Girl Genius t-shirt and scruffy green-gray shorts. There is a dragon skeleton that chomps its jaws and moved its tail sitting on my desk, though. (It also used to make noises, but a pair of wire clippers ended that)

  72. sara*

    My favourite costume I ever wore to work was the Paper Bag Princess (from the picture book by Robert Munsch). I worked at a children’s/science museum at the time, and did the same costume for at least 3 years. I just used large yard-waste bags turned inside out and gently singed, and then a crown and some black eyeshadow as soot. The bags usually only lasted 1-2 days (we were allowed to wear costumes on the weekend we did Halloween programming plus the actual 31st). It was a super affordable and easy costume – and also pretty simple to remove if I needed to be somewhat professional – I was a floor manager sometimes so would have to deal with lost kids/parents, first aid issues, etc. in addition to doing fun science-y things. Oh, and also I’d take off the costume when doing the “Fire Show”…

  73. Rivakonneva*

    I’m dressed up as Bob Ross today. Fuzzy wig and fake beard/mustache, a BR ‘paint’ palette and brush, plus clothes from my closet. Done!

    In years past I’ve been Arthur Dent, Harry Dresden, a Renaissance Queen, a college football fanatic, Menolly from the Pern books, Dark Judge Ruth Ginsberg Vader, a zombie Chopped losing contestant, and more. All cover plenty of skin and are easy to work in. Since I don’t have a public-facing position most of the time, this is doable. :)

  74. Reed Weird (they/them)*

    Oh man, my first Halloween in an office job my boss went around telling everyone that I had been a professional costumer (sorta, I worked in my college theater costume shop) so she couldn’t wait to see what I would wear for the costume contest! I wasn’t gonna do much until she was saying that… I showed up in my pirate outfit, with a white-out contact (mostly not impacting vision) and scar makeup over one eye. I wore an eyepatch over it, so I could spook people with it but keep it covered to avoid big scares constantly. I won the contest, and in fairness one of the owners was rollerblading around the office in a carhop outfit, but I’m much more lowkey about my costumes for work now. Gomez Addams is a pretty simple costume once you have the suit!

  75. Hush42*

    My company does a Halloween Costume contest every year. It’s completely optional. My team has been doing department group costumes for several years and this year a few other teams jumped onto that band wagon so most of the costumes were group costumes. Far more people in the company just didn’t dress up than did choose to dress up so I can say that people really do feel like it’s optional. HR makes it very clear that while the dress code is technically waived for Halloween, there is still an expectation that your costume will be appropriate (i.e. not sexual, not racist, no profanities, etc) and they will enforce it and send people home to change. I don’t think anyone has ever needed to be sent home. This year my team decided they just wanted to be M&Ms so one of the managers on our team and I used her Crikut to print Ms and put them on basic T-Shirts for everyone (everyone picked their shirts ahead of time).

  76. Lenora Rose*

    I was too tired to do the Hallowe’en thing, but we had one of our staff blow it out of the water: he walked in wearing and inflatable Winnie the Pooh outfit – which he shed in surprisingly short order (and managed to don and doff equally quickly for the Hallowe’en photo op). Underneath it he also had a SWAT team outfit. I was almost waiting for him to prove to have a third outfit still…

  77. Mary (in PA)*

    My bestie up in Canada is an executive assistant and she and her colleagues all put on Pac-Man ghost signs.

    She then sent me a video of her boss, wearing a Pac-Man sign, walking down the hallway at their office and saying, “Wokka wokka wokka…wokka wokka wokka…” Then the ghosts chased after him, one by one, each saying, “I just need five minutes! I just need five minutes!”

  78. Tiny clay insects*

    I showed up last year in a Mothman costume with a full head so it wasn’t possible to see who I am. And almost no one else at my work dresses up. But I teach college, and everyone, students and coworkers alike, knows I go all-out for Halloween, and I have a sense of having to top the previous year each year. (I took off the Mothman head when actually teaching, only wearing it in the hall and at the very start of class.)

    I don’t teach on Tuesdays so I wore a full possum costume yesterday, and brought candy for everyone.

    I do think somehow that the fact that I teach makes a difference here, even though very few of my coworkers dress up (a different department regularly does group Halloween costumes: it really varies by dept).

    I also never wear anything possibly able to be seen as sexy. That is the last way I want my students or coworkers to see me.

    So I tend to choose either bizarre stuff (Mothman, Frog Mario) or animal costumes (giraffe, squirrel, possum, etc)

  79. Higher Ed*

    Back in the early 80s, I got my braces on Halloween and my Orthodontist had on a full clown costume, including makeup, wig, etc.

  80. Overnight Oats*

    I went to work as a white rabbit when I was pregnant.
    I went to work as the Budget Fairy when I was serving as a faculty representative on Budget Planning Council for the university and a meeting was scheduled for Hallowe’en. Long dress, tiara, sparkly shoes, magic wand.
    Up until 5-6 years ago, the majority of staff and a plurality of faculty dressed up at least somewhat for Hallowe’en. That level of loving being here is gone, at least in my college, sadly.

  81. Spaceelf*

    I usually go with something tame enough for the office, yet still a costume, like a Starfleet officer or something. Not really offensive and worst case scenario someone just doesn’t know what I’m going as.

  82. Ex-prof*

    I had a doctor’s appointment today, and one of the nurses told me the staff were all dressed up as each other.

    That seemed like a nice low-key level of costuming.

  83. Ladycrim*

    The job interview question reminded me of my previous job, where my first day fell on Halloween. Not knowing the office’s style (except that it was casual), I wore a red sweater and black pants, and brought a devil horns headband with me. I walked in, and several people were in some level of costuming, including one guy in a full Dracula outfit. On went the horns. I worked there for 21 years and dressed in full costume every year after that. This is my second Halloween at my new job, and I’m here dressed as Weird Barbie.

  84. Wonder Woman's Tiara*

    I will never, ever understand what drives people to concern about taking annual leave for ‘frivolous’ stuff like their birthday or… whatever the hell they want, really. It’s annual leave! It’s for you to have life in!

    I took an ENTIRE WEEK off work this year for my birthday, and it wasn’t even a ‘big’ one. Both my boss and my grandboss both knew full and well what I was doing, because they’d asked (multiple musicals, a museum, afternoon tea, a night out at a favourite gay bar, and the zoo, thanks awfully). I took another day off recently in order to binge a new favourite TV show. My own boss regularly books Mondays off when she knows she’s going to have a heavy weekend and wants time to deal with her hangover.

    It’s LEAVE. It’s for whatever you want it to be.

  85. ChristyV*

    Our office likes to celebrate Halloween with costume contests and I’ve seen my share of questionable outfits. The one that made my jaw drop was when one of my colleagues dressed up like a prostitute (clothing safe for work), which included a made-up black eye. This was not an employee early in her career but one who has been a professional for nearly 40 years. Another colleague saw her and made her wash off the black eye before our CEO saw it. Just unbelievable.

  86. Good Enough For Government Work*

    I’m in a new job and in a country where Halloween isn’t as big of a deal as in the US, and although our office is pretty casual I decided not to risk an outfit today. This turned out to be the right call, as absolutely no-one even mentioned what day it was and nobody dressed up in any way whatsoever.

    However, when my formerly-favourite TV show’s second series dropped a few weeks back, I came to the office in ‘stealth cosplay’ as one Ed Teach: nice plain purple t-shirt, skinny black faux-leather jeans, buckled biker boots and ‘kraken’ jewellery, plus a rosy maple moth and Blackbeard’s flag pins on my usual black leather jacket. (Once I’d left the office for the day I added a ‘Be Gay Do Crime’ necklace.) I’m fairly sure nobody else noticed, as it was all stuff I already wear regularly and the show isn’t well known here yet, but it made me happy!

    The season 2 itself… maybe not so much. But that’s another story.

  87. Zilch*

    This wasn’t at work but at court. I was on a jury and we had court on Halloween. Our foreperson showed up in a clown wig and a red foam nose. As we sat out in the hall waiting to be called in, he continued to wear it. We were used to often waiting for a while in the morning outside the courtroom while the lawyers and judge wrangled over evidence, etc. This day, though, we waited…and waited… when we finally got called in, our foreperson stashed his wig and clown nose away and court proceeded. Found out after the trial ended that the long delay that morning was because the lawyers and the judge were trying to figure out what to do if foreperson came into court still wearing his clown costume.

  88. Coin Purse*

    My father died on Halloween in a hospital and there was a raging costume party going on at the hospital unit he was on. All the RNs and floor staff were in full costume. It was kind of creepy and to me, disrespectful. I am an RN so I get the need for an outlet and camaraderie but as a customer, I was not thrilled.

  89. bureaucratte*

    I work for the federal government in a place that used to be all business formal and now post pandemic has some business casual. I’ve been there for about a decade. Yesterday I saw SIX people in costume including one person dressed as a rabbit, like the Easter Bunny, complete with a mascot head. That is six more people in costume than I’ve seen in the last ten years combined at work. In the last it was notable if someone wore orange tights or novelty earrings. I’m still scraping my jaw off the floor

  90. DivergentStitches*

    And employers wonder why some people prefer to work remotely. It’s because of stuff like this! Either the whole thing is difficult to manage in one’s head, or other people don’t act with the sense their mamas gave them, or or or. So many reasons. Some of us can’t people.

  91. Zach*

    My last office was VERY costumey for Halloween, and I am not.
    I would always dress slightly nicer than usual and say “I’m going as an office worker!” Since I dressed up slightly nicer than usual it passed and I didn’t actually have to dress up.

  92. Chris Hogg*

    In a very large company where I worked back in the “good old days” many people fully “costumed” on Halloween, and it was a grand old time.

    Around noon a couple of us were gathered around the coffee pot, and there was a secretary, in business attire standing there drinking coffee. The other 3 or 4 of us were also not in costume.

    From another department an engineer, wearing a full-sized gorilla head, walked up behind the secretary and tapped her on the shoulder.

    When she turned around …

    … you know what’s coming, right? …

    … she let out the loudest blood-curdling scream I’d ever heard, backed away violently into a a nearby filing cabinet, and with one swift move grabbed at her chest as if having a heart attack and threw her coffee everywhere.

    The engineer immediately unmasked, profusely apologized, begged forgiveness, apologized, asked if she was alright, and apologized.

    Later that day the engineer met me in the hallway, apologized, and said he would never wear a Halloween costume again as long as he lived.

    But it was an aerospace company full of engineers, so you know this was not the only time something like this happened.

  93. Azure Jane Lunatic*

    This year I dressed up as Dulcinea Septimus from the Locked Tomb series. (I’d previously decided I wasn’t going to engage with the Seventh House, but after getting an upsetting return diagnosis I decided, well, that sorts my costume for this year…)

    Since it was a frilly seafoam green nightgown as a top, a fluffy white skirt, a whitish sweater, a white lace parasol, and an astonishingly frivolous hat that I’d put together as an unrelated project some years ago — I figured it was safe to wear to get my chemotherapy, since everything but the hat and parasol could reasonably be street clothes, and sometimes I do dress fairly extra.

    I lost count of the number of compliments I got on the hat.

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