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7 Essential Rules For Choosing a Halloween Costume

How To

photo: ste3ve

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you probably want to go to a Halloween party (or at least try to get some free candy), and you still haven’t picked out a costume. Complain all you want, but there’s nothing lamer than showing up to a Halloween party without one. And don’t even try any of that, “I’m going as myself” crap.

Even if you’re totally wild for Halloween, sometimes coming up with a cool, original costume can be a challenge. So, we have put together a set of guidelines to help inspire some ideas and narrow down your choices. 

1- Dress up as a group

There’s nothing like rolling up to a party five dudes deep looking like you’re all part of some crazy Halloween gang. You don’t even have to all go as something specific, like a band or group of movie characters, but if you and your friends can agree on a common theme, you could all form like Voltron to make a giant robot of a costume.

That’s not to say you and all your friends should dress in the same exact costume, which is totally boring. But in a group, you’re going to have a common foundation from which you can concentrate on giving your costume some unique and interesting details. Plus, hit up people in your group for stuff for your costume. Who needs the Halloween store when you have friends?

2- Don’t be afraid to dress subdued

No one says you have to go balls-to-the-wall elaborate for Halloween. Sometimes a cool mask or some creative face paint combined with some formal wear more than gets the job done. It can be a good way to stand out when everyone else looks over-the-top crazy. Best of all, costumes like these are totally flexible and can have countless variations.

In fact, a nice suit or formal dress alone could work perfectly if you’re the type of person who’d never be caught dead in one. Defy expectations by doing something unexpected — that’s what Halloween is all about.

3- Don’t get too conceptual

Sure, everyone will be talking about each others’ costumes on Halloween, but that doesn’t mean you want to be stuck all night explaining what you’re supposed to be. An abstract costume, or one that’s merely undercooked, can lead to a truly frustrating evening. So, unless you know for a fact that you can pull it off, you might not want to go as the SATs or your favorite flavor of Doritos.

4- Be timely

It’s something hard to judge, but if you’re going to go as a real person you have to keep it current. There’s no strict set of rules for this, and no time constraints, but chances are if no one in your office or none of your friends are talking about it, then it’s not going to make a good costume. So, Steven Slater is totally out, though feel free to go as anyone whose reality show is currently airing new episodes on either MTV or the Discovery Channel, but definitely not Bravo or TLC.

If you have an idea, but aren’t quite sure how to pull it off, flip through some tabloids or run a Google image search. But again, make sure you’re looking at current pictures. You don’t want everyone to know how ill-informed you really are.

5- Plan ahead

The absolute worst place to find yourself in, short of having no costume at all, is running around last minute trying to figure out what you want to be. By then, not only have all the good ideas been taken, but even if you do come up with something, you’re going to have a hard time getting everything together.  

Halloween stores sell out of stuff quickly, so make sure you’re stocked up at least four or five days in advance. You really don’t want to be standing in the clearance aisle of the drugstore looking through a bin of ill-fitting costumes in open plastic bags.

Also, do yourself a favor and have a dress rehearsal. Make sure your costume fits, and that all the different pieces work where they’re supposed to work. For you and your costume, the two scariest words of Halloween are “wardrobe malfunction.”

6- Be tasteful

There’s a big difference between dressing as something scary on Halloween and being shocking. Not everyone is going to appreciate a Brett Favre with fake penis costume. Actually, no one will appreciate that costume. You want people to like your costume, not be terrified of you in it.

This rule applies to making fun of dead celebrities, controversial public figures and cultural stereotypes. Halloween is meant to be fun for everyone, and an easy way to ruin a party is to dress cruelly. You never know who you’ll offend, so try to be thoughtful.

7- Don’t overspend

Remember, you’re probably wearing this costume for about six hours on Halloween, so don’t go overboard on buying stuff to wear. You might think you’ll impress your friends with a costume you ordered from Japan that arrived in three separate boxes, but what are you going to do with all those extra cyborg attachments come November 1st?
In fact, your friends won’t even be impressed; they’ll think you’re a loser for dropping a ton of dough on something no one will remember in a week. And if you are remembered at all, it won’t be for having a great costume, but for all the money you put into it.  

As a rule (and this is true for almost all aspects of life), something you took the time and effort to make yourself will always go over better than something you merely spent a ton of money on. 

How To: Dress Up For Halloween provided  by


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