Look, I know how Halloween works. I LOVE Halloween and I’m still scrambling for a last minute costume that’s topical, clever, sexy, comfortable enough to dance in, and cheap enough that I can make it for under $30. It’s hard. But don’t just fall into the trap of going to the pop-up Halloween store in your local strip mall and getting whatever cheaply made Mario (“Italian Plumber Hero”) costume or god forbid being the twentieth Barb from Stranger Things to show up at your party. I’m here to help.
DON’T BE: Harambe
INSTEAD BE: Arthur Clutching His Fist
Harambe is vaguely racist and so, so overdone. Honestly, if you do that one, you’re the worst. And besides, no one looks good in a full gorilla suit. You’ll be hot, with beer spills matting your fur and you’ll have to take off your mask if you want to commute anything other than, “Mmmphhhmmhmm.” If you really want to be a meme, dressing as Arthur is cheaper, easier, and more subtle. Besides, if anyone doesn’t know what you’re dressed up as, you have the perfect way to react.
DON’T BE: Donald Trump
INSTEAD BE: Howard Dean, screaming
We already see way too much of Donald Trump. If you want to wear a suit and yell, go as 2004 Howard Dean. A blue button-down and a microphone is all you need to just start yelling states and yelping to remind everyone of a time politics were more innocent and adorable.
DON’T BE: Ken Bone
INSTEAD BE: David S. Pumpkins
Yes, they’re both overdone recent TV moments that made us all giggle. But at least David Pumpkins takes a little bit of effort (getting the pumpkin suit, and streak in your hair if you have the energy) so the chances are there will be only 15 of you at the party as opposed to 500.
DON’T BE: Barb
INSTEAD BE: Rory Gilmore
I know why you want to be Barb—she shows you’re “in the know” and it’s a pretty easy costume. But you’re not as clever as you think you are. If you’re going to be one of TV’s favorite bookworms, go as Rory Gilmore (dressed in a Chilton uniform so she’s as recognizable as possible.) Bring along a friend in a tie-die shirt and jorts to be Lorelei if you can. Even if people don’t get your costume, you get to wear a sexy schoolgirl uniform without feeling slutty about it. Way more fun than mom jeans and a ginger wig.
DON’T BE: Eleven
INSTEAD BE: Carrie
If ComicCon is any indication, every one is going to be Eleven. No, really. Everyone. “But I got a wig!” I know, so did everyone. “I’m bringing waffles!” Yup, they all are too. “I even drew a little nosebleed!” Stop it. You’re embarrassing yourself. Be Carrie instead. She’s just as recognizable, you still get to wear a silly-looking dress, and now you get to use a lot of blood!
DON’T DO: A Stranger Things group costume
INSTEAD DO: Ferris Bueller group costume
If you’re going to do the ’80s, actually do the ’80s.
DON’T BE: Sandy and Danny
INSTEAD BE: Brad and Janet
Grease Live is last year. This year was all about Rocky Horror. But seeing as no one you know watched the FOX version, go old-school with a couples costume that will make everyone jealous.
DON’T BE: Jared Leto Joker
INSTEAD BE: Heath Ledger Joker
You still get to be the Joker, but somehow this way is more hilarious and somehow sadder.
DON’T BE: Khaleesi and Khal Drogo
INSTEAD BE: Ina and Jeffrey Garten
That’s… not really a couple you want to emulate. And unless you’re a Polynesian body builder, it comes across really weird to dress as Khal Drogo. Besides, he’s been dead for like, a WHILE. Instead, go as the greatest couple in America with a chambray shirt and a tray of baked goods.
DON’T BE: “Sexy” Occupation
INSTEAD BE: Pretty Woman
You’ll feel gross in one of those poorly-made Party City pieces of spandex. Get a blonde wig, tall boots, and a dress with a metal O in the middle for some reason and you get to dress as sexy as you want and still feel good about it.
DON’T BE: Margot Tennenbaum
INSTEAD BE: Regina George
We get it, you’re smart and know movies. But we’ve all seen The Royal Tennenbaums. It’s like bragging about reading The Catcher In The Rye. Be everyone’s actual favorite blonde anti-hero by cutting the boobs out of your white tank top and wearing a purple bra. If you and your boy were going in a Royal Tennenbaum couples costume, just turn your Regina into Regina and Aaron Samuels by wearing a sexy bunny costume and putting him a football jersey. You’re dressed as people dressed for Halloween! It’s meta!
DON’T BE: Harley Quinn
INSTEAD BE: Just anything else. Come on, you know everyone is doing this. If you already bought the blonde wig, be Lady Gaga or something. If you’re just dying to have two-toned hair and a bad-girl attitude, be Cruella De Vil.
DON’T BE: A different race
INSTEAD BE: Someone who stays home and thinks really, really hard about their life and the world around them.
IF YOU HAVE NO IDEAS AND YOU’RE NOT CREATIVE: Black Mirror. Wear all black. Hang a small mirror from your neck. Spend all night on your phone.