Halloween at the Office

Halloween at the Office | CorporetteHalloween is one week away, ladies! We’ve talked about office-appropriate Halloween outfits in the past, but I thought I’d start an open thread to see what’s happening this year: Are you dressing up for office-related Halloween events? What will your costume be? Is Halloween generally a source of stress for you, or a fun time?  (Personally I love the idea of being Rosie the Riveter as a smart costume… maybe next year!)

I’ve seen a ton of articles circulating lately on smart, non-slutty Halloween costumes for women, so I thought I’d round up some of the links below:

  • The Do’s and Don’ts of Halloween at the Office [Levo League]
  • Girls’ Halloween Costumes: 8 Fierce Outfit Ideas That Are Classy, Not Trashy [Huffington Post] (good ideas for women as well as girls)
  • Smart Halloween costumes for women [The Guardian]
  • Easy Halloween Costumes for Adults [Real Simple]
  • Halloween Costumes for Smart and Professional Women [Career Girl Network]
  • Women’s Halloween Costumes 2012: Ideas More Creative Than ‘Sexy Kitten’ [Huffington Post]
  • Women’s Halloween Costumes: Creative, Not Slutty Ideas for 2011 [Huffington Post]

For my $.02, I’ve never dressed up for the office, and haven’t really celebrated the holiday myself since college. (The last costume I can remember of mine was “Freudian slip,” because, hey, it was college and we were dorks.)  This year is the first year that my son will be old enough to go trick or treating, and the whole thing has turned into a massive source of stress — his daycare “discourages commercial Halloween costumes.”  Because, you know, the working mothers are the ones with the time and creativity to come up with a unique, DIY’d Halloween costume for the kid who barely understands what the holiday is.  (Not that I’m bitter.)  Anyway, it was unnecessarily stressing me out so now my husband is in charge of the Halloween costume.  :D  I will most likely be on candy hand-out duty this year, so I’m planning on being a boring witch: black maxi dress, black boots, and a $7 witch’s hat.  Maybe I’ll have some fun and throw some green eyeshadow into the mix as well.

Update: And I totally forgot that my husband and I had a joint costume right after we got engaged — we went to a Halloween party as “us at 15.”  Funnily enough, friends who knew us back then instantly guessed who we were.  (Me: red lipstick, denim skirt/tights/blazer/Converse sneakers, double LL Bean backpack (and I think I even found a relatively light LSAT book to carry around inside or something).  In other words, dork.  My husband: ripped baggy pants, baggy sweatshirt, skull cap, Timberland boots, and a 40-oz bottle of beer.  In other words: wannabe thug.)


  1. Baconpancakes :

    I am wholeheartedly amused that the ad showing for me right now features a nurse costume consisting of red undies and a red and white teddy at Adore Me. (Your Halloween Costume for $19.95 + free shipping & exchanges!)

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Haha. Mine is for “drop dead deals.” I think that is a little safer for work!

    • What does it say that mine is for a Borat Lycra Mankini costume? I have NEVER searched Halloween costumes at work…

    • Anonymous :

      I have a teenage mutant ninja turtle… the opposite of your nurse costume I think…

  2. Sydney Bristow :

    I’ve never dressed up for work and won’t be this year either. I host a Halloween party every year though that I dress up for. Most of my friends dress up, but not everyone. I love Halloween and creating a costume instead of buying one. It was my boyfriend’s turn to pick our costumes but he waited too long and wanted to be Abraham and Mary Lincoln but I couldn’t find a good dress that wasn’t super expensive. I suggested he do Lincoln and is do something solo but he wanted to do something together so we are doing Pulp Fiction. It’s not the most creative but was easy to pull together.

    I’m looking forward to the yummy food. We are having short ribs, pumpkin Mac and cheese (thanks to the suggestions here!), apple crisp, frosted Halloween shapes sugar cookies, and honeycrisp apple sangria. I’ve been to the grocery store every night this week trying to prep everything and will be cooking and baking a lot over the next 2 days but it is totally worth it.

    • WorkingMom :

      I never have either – we have a costume contest this year… but I don’t want to get crazy, but would like to participate to not be a party pooper. Would be completely lame to wear black and put on a witch hat for the “costume portion” of the activity? (There is a 1 or 2 hour afternoon snack/treat activity.)

  3. Wardrobe help needed please:

    Ladies. I have a charcoal jacket I love (it has a fancy collar that works for me). But what do I wear charcoal with when there is no matching skirt/pant option. Ideas?

    • A Nonny Moose :

      How fancy is it?
      Charcoal is a great color. In winter and fall, I’d’d wear it with mustard, emerald, oranges, and purple.

    • Aggie2145 :

      Charcoal is extremely versatile and if the fancy collar works for you then rock it! I often wear charcoal with navy, burgundy or a deep purple. As your jacket is a neutral, take the opportunity to add some color to your pants/skirt….I always feel I can be more daring with my charcoal or dark gray pieces.

    • bananagram :

      The right shade of red can look fantastic.

    • Newbie in MSP :

      I’d probaly wear it with black pants and a colored blouse (mustard, emerald, deep red/purple) or a dress of similar color and black tights. OR maybe with a white shirt and a pretty scarf :)

      I’d love to see the jacket, can you post a link?

    • Anonymous :

      I think charcoal and camel is a great combo, too. Perhaps with a top that matches one of the two pieces, or a black or oxblood shirt, or even better a shell that combines the two colors.

      • Charcoal is a neutral, it goes with everything, except in this case, no OTHER charcoal/gray pieces because they won’t match.

  4. I’ve been Rosie the Riveter for Halloween before, and everyone enjoyed it–I was posing all day! Last year I was a zombie redshirt, and this year I’ll be the most conservative Lara Croft on campus. Being an undergraduate has its perks, and one of them is still being able to dress up for classes on Halloween.

    • Rosie is an awesome costume, very clever!

    • I’ve been Rosie before, too – really easy to pull together and a great one if staying warm is one of your requirements! (I was volunteering at a road race on H’ween and outside for 4+ hours.)

  5. My organization has a Halloween lunch potluck, and costumes are encouraged. This is the first time I’ve ever worked someplace where Halloween was a Thing, so this post is very timely :) My department might all show up in devil horns, since an irrational rage-y parent called our director the spawn of Satan and said we were all doing the work of the devil. Love a good theme.

  6. Senior Attorney :

    My organization doesn’t do costumes, but I do have a pair of dangly jack-o’-lantern earrings that I bust out on Halloween if I remember. I’ve also been known to rock an orange blouse with my black suit.

    • Aggie2145 :

      Senior Attorney, you and I are on the same page. I have a black cat lapel pin that I might wear next Thursday with my deep orange blazer.

    • Miz Swizz :

      My office is full of ladies who adore Halloween so they dress up and I will probably wear a black dress with my bat pin and call it good.

  7. Our company is doing a potluck. We can bring in pumpkins for a decorating contest and are allowed to wear costumes. There are a lot of people from India so sometimes the women will wear saris to celebrate Diwali, if the dates coincide.

    Not a lot of people dress up though and I think part of that is the cultural differences.

    As far as potlucks, sometimes I feel a bit weird about eating food from a stranger’s kitchen without knowing how it’s prepared.

  8. My office does “Halloween On Your Head” so folks can easily take off their costume when they go to a meeting. It’s actually a great way to be fun (we’re a pretty close-knit office) while still being professional.

    • This is my kind of office Halloween. Last year – my first with this company – we had an auditor coming in so any type of costume was absolutely off limits, which makes me think costumes are the norm, at least among the admin staff. For myself, I think I’ll see if I can find one of those sproingy headbands.

  9. Great links – thanks! Re: your son’s daycare – ugh, seriously?
    My COO loves Halloween and always has a party during the workday and comes up with the best costumes. Most of the women in my office play along and do a little something just to participate – things you can add to business casual type clothing and not be completely inappropriate. Hardly any of the men do anything other than show up for the free lunch. Not that I’m bitter, either.

  10. TO Lawyer :

    I’m grumpy and hate Halloween so I’m glad that my office doesn’t require dressing up. I usually stay home the weekend before Halloween because there are tons of people who don’t usually go out dressed up in costumes, unable to handle their alcohol (I feel like Halloween, along with NYE, is amateur night). Halloween sucks in that weird in-between stage when you’re not a kid and/or in college, and you don’t have kids to hang out with. (IMO – I may just be cranky about Halloween because the last 3 have sucked)

    • I think I have the purrfect costume for you – #15 here: http://www.ryanseacrest.com/2013/10/02/best-halloween-costume-ideas-for-women-men-and-couples/

    • I’m with you. We’re allowed to dress up, but it’s not required. I usually work late so I’m not home to hand out candy to trick or treaters. I’m definitely scrooge on the block. I don’t have kids so maybe I would feel differently if I did.

  11. Anonymous :

    Whats with the shade to stay at home mothers? Have your husband make the costume then Kat. I don’t understand that sentence it seems so out of place

    • I read that as referring to the fact that most kids in daycare have moms who are working… and as a result don’t have as much time to make a costume.

      • S in Chicago :

        I read that as Anonymous wanting to sound PC around “who has more time-SAHMs vs. working, because they should be equal.” Hopefully, we’re not really going to bite on that one today.

  12. amelia earhart :

    I’m going as Amelia Earhart this year (surprise!). The company runs a contest between departments to win a week of dress down, so people make it high-stakes. My department, however, is not participating in that this year.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      That’s a great costume idea. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone dressed as Amelia Earhart, but it would be totally recognizable.

    • Good idea! I should do this next year before my hair gets to long to pull off her hair style.

  13. My office used to get really into it, despite it being at our busiest time. I was Sherlock Holmes 3 years running (tended to wear a tweed blazer anyways, kept the pipe and hat in my desk drawer). Grateful to be in Europe wear Halloween is not a thing. Adults in costumes really make me uncomfortable.

    • “Adults in costumes really make me uncomfortable.”

      Me too! When I was living in the UK I just could not get into all the fancy dress parties. I’m sure there is a good anthropological explanation for the UK’s fascination with fancy dress….

      • Especially if they have masks on.

        Oh yes, there is! I feel like there was a section in Watching the English on this. Now it just manifests in grown people wearing animal onesies for fun. A total mystery to me! Mr Cb’s best friend is buying him one for his birthday. I disapprove of gag presents in general (just feels wasteful) but he better not wear it around me.

      • Agreed. Second the problem with the masks, as well. But over all, adults in costumes at work is just too juvenile for me. I got roped into it 4 or 5 years ago and incredibly uncomfortable all day so I vowed never again. I felt it put far too an unprofessional spin on my image.

  14. I’m going as the “Attorney General.” I’m wearing a black pencil skirt, the merino tippi sweater from JCrew in houndstooth (it has cool shoulder details), and then I got a general’s hat, some fake medals, and little pin-on epaulets with gold fringe. Get it? I’m the attorney . . . general. If I need to look professional, I just take off the accessories.

    My friend is going to be the Surgeon General – dressing in scrubs and a stethoscope, but with the same “general” garb.

  15. I’m throwing a big party hour on Halloween at work, and our team is going as members of Duck Dynasty. All in, beard and all. : )

  16. Seventh Sister :

    My kids’ daycare does the same, but I always interpreted that statement to mean, “no obvious D.isney movie princesses or superheros.” So I just went online and got a relatively generic costume, except for the times when my mom has made a costume for my oldest.

    This year, my kids are going as Princess Tiana (green flower girl dress + plastic bits from skimpy licensed dress-up costume) and The Man in the Bomb Suit (puffy green jumpsuit, black helmet + ruff).

  17. Miss Behaved :

    My office has decided to combine our office outing/day thing with Halloween. Annoying! So they’re taking over the local indie theater and showing a halloween movie and telling us we can wear halloween costumes that will be judged.

    I’m anti-halloween and always have been. I don’t like costumes and I definitely don’t want to have any candy around. Usually, I hide out in my apartment and hope nobody comes by. This year I’m going over to my brother’s after work to see my 2-year-old nephew in his costume so… with an eye to that I’m going to get as “Halloween” as I’ve ever been and wear my new leopard print Land’s End ponte sheath. When I get to their house, I’ll have my sister-in-law, who’s a whiz with makeup, add whiskers!

    • Baconpancakes :

      That sounds adorable! I think with the popularity of leopard print this season, there will be a lot of big cats in offices this Halloween.

  18. I am not into dressing up in a Halloween costume at work. I actually hate dressing up as an adult anyway – I’m debating whether I can get away with not dressing up for the party I’m going to on Saturday…

  19. Lady Harriet :

    I won’t dress up at work, but I’m dressing up as Belle in the evening to help my friend take her three little girls trick-or-treating. I got a big gold gown as a hand-me-down from a friend who was moving, and I found a tutorial on Youtube for how to do my hair. I love dressing up in costumes, and I know the kids will appreciate my outfit.

  20. S in Chicago :

    Halloween costume ideas for those with baby bumps. Too good not to share:


    • Houston Attny :

      Not pregnant but love these! My favorite is the bun in the oven. :)

  21. My first job out of college was an office that got REALLY into Halloween and you had to dress up (especially the younger post-college folks) and everyone voted on the best costume. I went along with it, because I didn’t know better. If someone came to my current office (biglaw) in a full crazy costume, I would think they were insane.

    Thinking back, that work environment was basically Office Space.

  22. I love Halloween! Even before we had our son DH and I would dress up to hand out candy. I have a great Cruella Deville (101 Dalmatians) wig that I wear with a black sheath dress, red shoes, and a black and white polka dot wrap. It’s great for work because I can just take off the accessories and look normal if needed :)

  23. I refuse to dress up, and I plan to hide from any trick or treaters.

    I am pro-candy corn and mini chocolate bars, however.

  24. Patent Anon :

    Last year I was Katniss Everdeen, which only required the Hunger Games crow pin and an archery set. The year before I was Lady Gaga, which required a blond wig, crazy makeup and I picked up a generic green dress.

  25. Kat, I totally get the unnecessary stress over Halloween. No moms want to deal with that (except the crazily talented crafty ones with time to spare for making special costumes). I have tried to make it simple for myself by creating costumes out of things we already have (Conincidentally, my daughter is actually being Rosie the Riveter this year–super easy for a baby and super super cute. I was Rosie a couple of years ago and we may be Rosie twins on Halloween). How about an athlete (sweats and sports equipment), businessman/lawyer (tiny suit, briefcase/bag/lunchbox that kind of looks like one), rock star (jeans, tee, jacket, spiky hair, toy instrument), or animal (sweatpants with matching hoodie that you add eyes/ears/scales to create a dinosaur/dog/whatever). Think about what he already has in terms of clothes and toys that can be accessories.

  26. I intend to dress as an evil Minion this year. If I am in on the fancy dress day…. last time I was my costume went unnoticed due to apparently not differing enough from my usual casual froday wear….

  27. Discouraged commercial costumes!!!??? What. Ever. If I can’t buy it on Amazon, it’s not happening. Totally feel for your pain on that one.

    • Anonymous :

      What does that even mean? Do they not want them to dress as commercial characters, or is any storebought costume out, or what?

      Honestly, I would put a storebought costume on him and deal with the side-eye and people will probably forget about it by the next day.

  28. Some people in my government office do Halloween. It’s a very casual office, so I usually wear dark jeans and a Halloween-themed tee. This year I also made myself a scarf of crocheted skulls (http://crochetyourselfhappy.blogspot.com/2009/09/day-of-dead-crochet-skull-pattern.html).

work fashion blog press mentions