How to Dress for Halloween – At Work

How to Dress for Halloween - At the Office | CorporetteHow to Dress for Halloween - At the Office | CorporetteHow do you do Halloween at the office (or even at a party with many of your coworkers)?  Being scantily clad for the holiday is so normal, it’s become a joke — and there’s nothing wrong with going that route, if you want to, for a regular party with friends.  But when Halloween and coworkers start to mix, it’s always a good goal to maintain some level of professionalism — which usually can’t be accomplished when you’re dressed as Snooki.  So what do you wear — without spending a ton of money or time on the costume? We’ve had so many great ideas from previous threads that I thought I’d round up a few of my favorites… Ladies, are you dressing up for an office-related Halloween event this year?  What will you be?  (Also: has anyone decorated their office to any degree?) 

Smart Costumes for Smart Women

  • Rosie the Riveter
  • Lara Croft
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Carmen San Diego: red trench coat, red pants, and black boots
  • Sherlock Holmes   (tweed blazer, hat, pipe)
  • Female politician — pick a well known political or business figure whose wardrobe resembles yours (Sarah Palin if you tend toward bracelet length jackets and pencil skirts; Hillary Clinton if you tend towards colored pantsuits; Condi Rice if you like knee high boots, etc.)
  • Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s — black sheath, loads of pearls, and cigarette holder.
  • Peggy / Joan from Madmen
  • Pirate: white blouse, black pants, tri-point hat, eye patch, plastic sword
  • Legally Blonde – pink suit, heels, stuffed toy puppy peeking out of your purse
  • “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.
  • Waitress from Office Space: white polo shirt with basted-on green felt stripes, khakis, suspenders with a bunch of pins (courtesy of my nephew, who gets them at soccer tournaments), and a waitress-apron-thingy that I pinned together from some black fabric.
  • Witch (dress in black with green eye shadow)
  • Mad scientist (lab coat, glasses, crazy hair)
  • Headless goblin (cardigan over your head, jack o lantern under your arm)

And just for kicks, here are a few smart and easy couples’ costumes for office-related Halloween parties..

Couple’s Costumes

  • Pulp Fiction. It’s not the most creative but was easy to pull together. (Couple costume)
  • Abraham & Mary Lincoln
  • Christmas tree (green dress, brown tights, garland, tinsel, etc) and present (lots of bows as part of the outfit)

Any favorites in the list, ladies? What will you be this Halloween?  Does anyone have any fun Halloween-at-the-office stories (either of fun times or of costumes gone horribly wrong?)

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Pictured: , originally uploaded to Flickr by StayRAW.


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  1. (former) preg 3L :

    This is a fantastic post. Thank you Kat!

    I would add:
    – 3-Hole-Punch [Your Name] if you’re a fan of The Office
    – Cat (all-black outfit, headband with cat ears and a tail if you’re feeling adventurous) (ETA I guess that’s not too “smart”)

    • I love the Office episode where all of the women dress for Halloween by wearing animal ears.

  2. Senior Attorney :

    I would never consider wearing a costume at/to the office and I can’t imagine any law office doing such a thing.

    That said, I do like to observe the day by wearing my orange blouse with my black suit and my jack-o-lantern dangly earrings.

    And my favorite Halloween story is the time I was in misdemeanor court on November 1, and they brought this 20something woman in, in custody, to be arraigned for a DUI — still in her “sexy kitty” costume and makeup from the night before!

    • My law office does this. More of the assistants dress up than the lawyers, but probably 20% of the lawyers dress up. We also have a small party during the afternoon. I have dressed up in some years and not in others, when I dress up I try to wear something that I could take off easily and meet clients if need be (for example one year I was little red riding hood, I wore a normal black work shift dress with black round toe shoes and topped it off with a red hooded cape, which I only wore to the party part of the day.)

      • Yay! We are also doeing a big party for Haloween, and the manageing partner is makeing us dress up useing our 2014 theme, which is based on the TV show “Sex in the City”. I was designated by the manageing partner to be Mireanda, even tho I am NOT sexueally promisusus, but the manageing partner insists b/c I am the onley blond in the office. I realy wanted to be Charlotte b/c she is the cutest, but that went to Lynn, who look’s NOTHING like her. The manageing partner made Madeline Carrie, and the manageing partner is Mr. Big, which is funny, b/c that mean’s HE would be the one to have sex with Madeline! I hope he learn’s his lesson and I guess I am lucky after all! YAY!!!

        • Oh Ellen, you tease. You know Samantha is the “promisusus” blonde.

    • Super Anon :

      Our law office has an annual costume contest! Most people don’t do anything crazy — mostly costumes like the ones Kat listed, where you can still wear a normal business casual outfit but with some fun accessories. Last year we had a Clark Kent (suit, glasses and S curl), some “sports fans” (wore jerseys), and several people wore cat-ears headbands.

    • A friend works for a firm where costumes are “strongly encouraged” for everyone. It’s kind of a nightmare that I love hearing about after.

    • Everyone (staff, associates, partners) wears costumes at my BigLaw office on Halloween. Nothing too crazy, but one year I wore a white outfit with a a halo handband and angel wings, and a good friend of mine wore all black and red devil horns. We’ve had a managing partner (female) dress as a cheerleader, as well.

    • Anonymous :

      People do at my Big Law office although the participation rate is fairly low and more staff dress up than attorneys. I’ve never worn a costume. I hate Halloween, although in the last few years friends have started having kids and I enjoy seeing them dressed up. I imagine once I have a kid Halloween will be fun again. If you have to dress up, I like the ideas in this post.

    • Shopping challenge. :

      Sexy kitten mugshot! wow

    • Senior Attorney :

      Wow. I am really surprised at all the costumes in law offices! I guess I need to get out more! ;-)

      • I’m an admitted Halloween Grinch— when it comes to adults. Kids in costumes, and candy, I ‘m all for. Grown-ups in costume leaves me cold. Which is why I was appalled at my last job (municipal gov’t attorney) we “had” to dress up for Halloween. My department ended up doing a group Mad Men thing, so it could have been worse, but I felt ridiculous, and we all looked ridiculous. It feels like an invasion of privacy or something; I just don’t like being told what to wear.

        Grinchiness aside, though, I don’t think it’s ever cool for a job to require you to spend money on anything that isn’t related to your job. And by “require” I also mean “the office culture strongly encourages…”

        • Senior Attorney :

          I totally agree. I am still boggled at the idea of lawyers dressing up at work. I like to think I’m pretty easy-going and fun and whatever, but honestly if I were a client and saw everybody dressed in costumes I would really question whether they were serious about my case.

          And you kids? Off my lawn!

  3. For low- key offices, I just do festive earings/ a headband with ears. I’ve worked in places where going as a particular charismatic (and easy to imitate) c-level executive was really popular. I’ve also worked in places where people went all out. Going anon for this, but I worked at a place that did a lot of data analytic around risk (think: insurance adjustment/actuarial type stuff). People went as: OLAP cubes (this is something only data geeks will get); a data warehouse (both made from cardboard boxes during lunch when it was announced there was a $500 for best costume), tom cruise from RISK-y business, “remote workers” (costume: pajamas and a headset), “Employee #2” of the company that is now publicly traded: hawaiian shirt, coconut drink, and faux gold rapper $$ necklace.

    If you were in the right kind of law, and in the right kind of office, I’d pick a famous case and a buddy and go as “X vs Y” .

  4. I usually do just a headband–like cat ears–with a plain black outfit, either a black dress and heels or black suit. Then I can be a cat for Halloween, or if confronted with a client or big meeting, slip off the headband and be completely professional.

  5. purplesneakers :

    I’m not a lawyer, but when I was working I went as the devil’s advocate (I’m well known for being both opinionated and well to the left of my coworkers.) Black sheath (we didn’t do suits at my office), black pumps, pearls, and a set of devil horns. It went over pretty well!

  6. Shopping challenge, narrowing it down :

    I couldn’t find what I was looking for at any of the usual suspects, so am trying two new-to-me places. If you’ve heard of either, and can give either positive reviews or warnings to stay away, please let me know!

  7. Not for work, but I’m going as a French Kiss. Think Kiss makeup & hair crossed with French things (beret, striped shirt, red neckerchief) etc.

  8. Dressing up (though work appropriate, as in kid friendly – nothing skimpy/provocative) is encouraged and appropriate at my workplace. Many go all out and there are parties and contests. That being said, at the management level it’s a bit trickier. We want to support staff dressing up, but have to be able, ourselves, to look normal enough for meetings with outsiders.
    I’ve become a big fan of the simple, removable, punny costume. Last year, I taped a quarter on my back, and wore dollar bill earrings – I was a Buccaneers quarterback. This year, I’m wearing black and grey with a stripe pattern cardigan (normal clothes) with a toy airplane on each shoulder – an aircraft carrier. :) The accessories are quickly removable if need be.
    There are enough of these ideas at this helpful site to carry me through to retirement. :) [note, not all here work appropriate, but enough are.]

  9. I’ve got to point out that Holly Golightly from breakfast at Tiffany was effectively a prostitute, lol. Not sure that I’d classify this as for smart women.

  10. Rogue Banker :

    My current job doesn’t let us dress up (phooey on security regulations) but at the casinos… whooooey.

    I think my favorite was the dealer who came in as Tinkerbell. She rolled up to work in a full corset, tiny miniskirt, strap-on wings, and covered in glitter. Management had been stupid and didn’t set any limits on costumes, so they couldn’t exactly tell her to go home… she made some INCREDIBLE tips that day, as I remember, so it all worked out. :P

    My go-to over the last few years has been vampire – long black dress, full length black cape, pale makeup and bright red lipstick. Going for pirate this year though, just to switch it up. (and because it’s gotten cold early this year, yay for long sleeves on costumes :P)

  11. Shopping challenge :

    I’d love to go as Miss Piggy or as Wilbur this year, having helped a friend put together a costume for her kid’s “book character” day at school, but want to find a Kermit or Charlotte to go with me. The costume’s really simple:
    pink dress and shoes, more pink blush than I would usually wear, dusted on my forehead too, and a pig nose. Taking off the pig nose and changing the shoes would make it totally work-appropriate.

  12. One idea is to wear all black with dark lipstick, etc. in order to be an “[insert your job here] in the underworld.” I had a great time one year as a real estate agent specializeing in Hell.

  13. Kate Middleton :

    Pick me! All you need is a pair of beige patent leather pumps, panty hose, a conservative blue dress with 3/4 sleeves, a bouncy blowout, and a costume sapphire ring.

    • I like this!

    • I like this! If you’re a brunette you could basically wear normal office clothes with pantyhose…although now you need to pad out a baby bump :)

      • TO Lawyer :

        This sounds amazing. Plus excuse for a blowout!

      • S in Chicago :

        If you’re blonde, you can do basically the same and pin a bird or two onto your top. You’re Hitchcock’s The Birds.

  14. Shopping challenge :

    I’m not decorating an office this year, but if I were, this is what I’d use:,default,pd.html#q=halloween&start=1&sz=60&showAll=175

  15. My office has a combined Halloween and Diwali festival because many of the employees are contractors from India. The majority of the people dress in Indian clothes. There is also a potluck. But after reading the comments on an Ask a Manager post about potlucks and people’s questionable hygiene, I may skip out on that part of the festivities.

  16. Blonde Lawyer :

    Yay! Two of my prior costumes (though not worn at work) are on here!

    I can tell you one NOT to be at work unless you want people talking about you for years. I didn’t see this one in person but it occurred at my friend’s large insurance company: Monica Lewinsky. The blue (?) dress may be professional. The mayo you applied to it is not!

  17. Anonymous :

    I was blessed with receiving some of my grandmother’s 1940’s suits in my 20’s, which I adored, and wore on occasion. Post-kids, I was able to hold on to one…which is why I wear vintage suits on Halloween, and pick a historic female of the era, pin on a nametag:

    Birth-Death years
    Phrase or sentence for what she is famous for.

  18. Binder clip a lot of file folders to yourself, go as a litigation hold

  19. is a brilliant site for, as it says, women with imagination. Basically, it’s trying to be the answer to the “sexy-insert-noun” Halloween costumes for women. Lots of smart, relatively easy to assemble costume ideas for historical, literary, and legendary female characters such as Ada Lovelace (Victorian proto-computer scientist), Pele (Hawaiian fire goddess), & Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt.

    Tech companies here on the west coast typically have a big Halloween party, tho’ as the companies get older, it’s more a day for people to bring in their kids dressed up, which means the costumes have gotten less interesting. A decade ago, people were very creative with lots of bad pun costumes, current events costumes, & in-joke costumes about company products. There’s still a lot of office decorations, at least, which everyone appreciates & some people still get creative with, thankfully.

  20. I like to go as Lois Lane. Wear your regular work clothes with a daily planet name tag and carry around a notepad or small recorder. If you’re a guy do Clark Kent, wear a suit with a superman tshirt underneath. Close up the suit when not at the party.

  21. I love Halloween! This year I’ve been wanting to go as Marie Curie… sharpie (or embroider, if you have skills) her name onto a lab coat and throw some glitter/glow-in-the-dark paint on for radioactivity (I know, it’s a bit of a stretch). This is my first Halloween at my current employer though so I think I’m going to play it safe and not dress up. Maybe next year…

  22. I’ve dressed up before and decorated my office. One year I wore a suit and vampire fangs with one of those “Hello my name is” stickers that said “Bloodsucking lawyer”. That was a pretty big hit at my company. The following year I wore a red sheath dress with a pair of devil horns. I wanted to go as a shark (another lawyer pun) by wearing a gray sheath dress and some sort of fin, but I couldn’t figure out the fin quickly enough.

  23. I’m black. I’ve just worn a regular suit and put on a name tag with the name of a black politician/lawyer. Last year I was Carol Mosely Braun. I am running out of famous black women to be for Halloween though. This year might be the last. I also have a poodle skirt which is work appropriate if everyone is dressing up for halloween.

  24. Anonymous :

    This website has some amazing suggestions for costumes!

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