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Tips and Guidelines for Wearing a Halloween Costume to Work

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S. Davies believes relationships should be built on mutual respect. She gives talks and workshops on cultivating good career connections.

When it comes to Halloween, dressing up for work is a little different than dressing up for a Halloween party. Learn the dos and don'ts of workplace costumes!

When it comes to Halloween, dressing up for work is a little different than dressing up for a Halloween party. Learn the dos and don'ts of workplace costumes!

Halloween Costumes for Work

Going to work on Halloween can be a blast, especially if you're allowed to show up in costume! Before you don your October best, however, it's important to make sure your costume is suitable for the workplace. After all, daytime office holidays aren't quite as rambunctious as evening Halloween parties.

Whether you work in an office, warehouse, retail store, restaurant, or coworking space, be sure that you have put some thought into what you are going to wear to work on Halloween. Here are some tips and tricks for creating a costume that will look good and be comfortable and appropriate for the workplace.

What About the Dress Code Policy?

Even though your boss may have approved of you and your co-workers wearing Halloween costumes to work, don't forget that the workplace dress code may still be in effect. If the workplace policy is that clothes must be clean, tidy, and professional-looking, there may or may not be exceptions made for holiday attire. If the policy requires you to dress conservatively and in a modest fashion, don't pick a Halloween outfit that is too revealing.

If you're not sure whether a dress code policy applies to Halloween costumes, check with your supervisor. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to inadvertently cross a line. Keep in mind that you can have more than one Halloween costume—what you wear to work during the day doesn't have to be what you wear to the Rocky Horror Picture Show later that night!

10 Easy Rules for Workplace Costume Success

While every workplace is different, following these 10 guidelines is a good way to make sure you're on the right track when planning your costume.

Make Sure You Have Permission

It's always a good idea to talk to your boss and ask them if it's ok to wear a costume to work on October 31st.

Do Not Bring Replica Weapons to Work

It goes without saying that you shouldn't bring real weapons to work. The last thing your company needs is a SWAT team descending on the office because someone saw you toting what they thought was a real shotgun. Use common sense when designing your Halloween costume. There are plenty of great costume ideas out there that don't involve weapons or violence.

Be Respectful of Other Cultures

Dressing up as someone from another culture or ethnic background should always be avoided. Appropriating motifs and cultural artifacts is insensitive and offensive. For example, wearing Aboriginal regalia, such as feather headdresses, as part of a Halloween costume is disrespectful. For more information about how dressing up in costumes that represent other cultures can be offensive, check out Cultural Appropriation and Costumes.

Avoid Costumes That Are Too Revealing

Any costume that is labeled as a sexy version of any person or thing (e.g., sexy nurse, sexy tiger, sexy zombie, etc.) should be avoided when dressing up for work. Save those costumes for Halloween night!

Don't Scare Away the Kids

Avoid wearing a gory or scary costume if you think you might encounter small children at work. While there's nothing wrong with a good Halloween scare, it's always a good idea to be mindful of others—especially children—when wearing a horror-based costume.

Be Safe

Don't wear anything that could interfere with your ability to do your job in a safe and effective manner. Do you work with heavy shredding equipment? Then don't be a dummy by wearing a mummy outfit that could get tangled up in a motor or whirling blades.

Wear a Costume That You Can Quickly Change Out Of

Bring a change of clothes to work so that you aren't the only one in the office wearing a silly costume if the need to be more serious arises. You never know when you might have to deal with an unexpected meeting or an important client visiting the office.

Choose Something Comfortable

A furry, one-piece puppy dog outfit might seem like a cute Halloween costume idea for the office, but how comfortable will you be wearing heavy synthetic fibers indoors for six to eight hours?

Avoid Costumes That Allude to Social Issues

Dressing up in a costume that makes light of or glamorizes other people's struggles is not a good idea. Costumes that make fun of poverty (e.g., homeless person), violence (e.g., "pimp and ho"), racism (e.g., blackface), or disabilities (e.g., blind person) are not cool.

Put Some Thought and Effort Into Your Halloween Costume

There are a few quick and easy Halloween costume ideas at the bottom of this article, but make sure that whatever you choose to wear looks smart, polished, and well-constructed. If you don't have time to put together a costume that will look good and feel comfortable all day, maybe dressing up for Halloween at work isn't a good idea. Remember, your priority is to do your job and do it well. You should only wear a special outfit to work on the 31st if it enhances your profile, endears you to customers, and makes your office look like an enjoyable and professional place to work.

Costumes like this witch's hat are perfect for work because they can be easily removed if necessary. If your workplace is pet-friendly, bring in your cat to complete the look!

Costumes like this witch's hat are perfect for work because they can be easily removed if necessary. If your workplace is pet-friendly, bring in your cat to complete the look!

Easy Workplace Costume Ideas

Here are some easy-to-assemble Halloween costumes that are fun to wear and appropriate for work.

  • Kitty Cat: Draw a few whiskers on your cheeks with an eye pencil, wear a cat-ear hairband, and tie a swishy tail to your waist. This simple workplace costume looks cute and is quick to remove if necessary.
  • Puppy Dog: Paint a few spots on your face, add some whiskers, and don floppy ears for this easy office Halloween costume.
  • 1930s Flapper Girl: Pair a feathered headband with a sparkly tank dress for this quick and simple office outfit.
  • Vintage Aviator: Just toss on a leather jacket, a snugly fitting cap, and goggles or shiny sunglasses, and you're ready for takeoff!
  • Mythical Goddess: Wear a flower or ivy headband on a braided updo over a shiny gold belt, strappy sandals, and a plain white sundress.
  • Gilligan From Gilligan's Island: Put on some jeans or bell bottoms, a long-sleeved red shirt with a white collar, and a sailor's bucket hat. You're ready to set sail.

What makes many of these workplace costume ideas so great is that they can be rapidly disassembled should you need to quickly change out of them to attend a meeting or help a client. Put a smart blazer over your tank dress or sundress, and no one at the unexpected video conference will know that you were wearing a Halloween costume at work 20 minutes ago. Don't forget to pack some makeup remover and wet wipes so that you can quickly remove any costume makeup if need be.

Your makeup palette may be all you need to create a fun Halloween costume for work.

Your makeup palette may be all you need to create a fun Halloween costume for work.

Non-Costume Ideas

If you can't or don't want to wear a Halloween costume to work, but you still want to bring a bit of All Hallow's Eve fun to your office, here are some things you can do:

  • Bake some spooky Halloween cupcakes to share at work.
  • Put out a bowl of peanut-free candies for your customers and co-workers.
  • Add a few cute Halloween accessories to your desk.
  • Wear a stylish and spooky brooch or pendant.
  • Paint your nails with little ghosts and goblins.
  • Download some fun Halloween music and put the ghosts and goblins at work in a groovy mood. Good Halloween songs to play at work include Michael Jackson's "Thriller," "Monster Mash," and "The Time Warp" from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

One Last Thing: Be Mindful of Phobias

If you work with someone who has a deathly fear of spiders, clowns, or snakes, don't be a jerk and show up to work in a Halloween costume that will cause a panic attack. Some people do have very real phobias that they can't contain. Be considerate of other people's feelings, and don't play on their fears at Halloween. Celebrating the spooky season at work should be fun and light-hearted. Don't let your costume become the cause of a heart attack!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 S Davies


Blackspaniel1 on October 11, 2014:

I suppose the complex social issues includes politicians.

Mackenzie Sage Wright on September 22, 2014:

These are such great tips, thanks for sharing. It's not something people often think about.