Last Minute Halloween Costumes That Aren’t The “Sexy”, Store Bought Norm.

It’s almost that time of year again when unoriginality prevails and hemlines rise in an effort not just to fill pillowcases or cheap plastic pumpkin pails with the most candy but to elicit the most controversy: Halloween.

Already we’ve seen the mass production of Halloween costumes of the likes of Caitlyn Jenner and Cecil the Lion’s killer, and you can rest assured there’ll be many an outraged news story about those brave (stupid?) enough to dress as Rachel Dolezal or a member of ISIS.

But Halloween is also the time of year when many a thinkpiece about freedom of speech, taste, and a woman’s right to dress as sexy as she wants (and I’m certainly not innocent of going that route) start doing the rounds, of which I’ve been guilty myself.

So I thought I’d write a different kind of story featuring suggestions for the trifecta of Halloween costumes: some unique, possibly envelope-pushing and fun ideas for this year’s All Hallows Eve. And with October 31st falling on a Saturday this year those invitations should have come thick and fast, so you’ll want to be prepared (hey, there’s another costume idea: Scar from The Lion King, which my friend April went as to my [non-costume] birthday last year!)

(Disclaimer: if costumes aren’t slutty enough—and some of them most definitely tick that box—just add cleavage and substitute regular-length pants for hot ones.)

magic mike xxl

Magic Mike: XXL.

Baggy pants, white singlets, backwards caps and a bandana around the neck are all you’ll need to recreate arguably the sexiest dance scene ever in this year’s sequel to Magic Mike. If you want to put a little more effort in, there’s Tarzan’s painted portrait, Tito’s “Candy Shop” routine, Ken’s sexy “How Does It Feel” rendition or Richie’s groom cum S&M dom. A little less effort? A bottle of water, packet of chips and “I Want It That Way” on loop.

halloween rosie the riveter marilyn monroe

Rosie the Riveter.

Feminism is so trendy, didn’t you know, so what better way to pay homage to the movement than dressing as someone whose image is often co opted by it: Rosie the Riveter. I went as her one year and all you need is a blue shirt; jeans, overalls or denim shorts, depending on the level of sexiness you want to go for; a red and white polka dot scarf, and you’re set.

When I was in New York for Halloween one year I saw a woman in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade who even went to the trouble of fashioning a “We Can Do It” speech bubble.

adam and eve

Adam & Eve.

The perfect couples costume, all you need is some vines, an apple, and a toy snake. From there, go as dressed up (or down) as you’re comfortable with.

gloria steinem undercover playboy bunny

Gloria Steinem Undercover as a Playboy Bunny.

Yet another costume I’ve worn over the years and probably my favourite. Grab a cheap, mass-produced corset from Valley Girl or similar, some high-waisted vintage knickers (or boy shorts for more coverage), a Playboy cuffs and ears set from most party supply stores, and a white loofah sponge from the supermarket for a tail.

To differentiate yourself from a typical Playboy bunny, wear a feminist badge of some kind and for extra journo cred, carry a notebook, tape recorder (did they even have those in the ’60s?) or a copy of Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions, the book her report “A Bunny’s Tale” is published in.

suffragette costume

Emily Davison.

Best known as the woman who rushed King George V’s horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby, she died from fatal injuries sustained in the act of protest. A suffragette, a Davison costume is not only timely with the release of the movie Suffragette in which she is featured, but it’s marginally more tasteful than Cecil the Lion: hit up your local costumery for period threads then stop by a toy shop for a hobby horse.

josephine baker

Josephine Baker.

There are many ways you can go with this: traditional 1920s fare, or for the more exhibitionistic, hunt for the components that make up her famous banana costume. A healthy helping of plastic bananas threaded together could work, or banana lollies from your local Woolies add elements of sexiness and Halloween candy metatext. This is one costume that knows no bounds.

girl scout costume

Girl Scout.

A friend had this in mind for the time we were in New York for Halloween, but it never came to fruition. You can be the one to make it happen, by either forking out for the cheap, mass produced version or shifting through Etsy and vintage eBay sellers for cute vests, badges and maybe even a box of cookies or two. Know a Brownie? Borrow their garb for the evening.

beyonce feminist costume

Beyonce Standing in Front of the Feminist Sign.

Granted, this would have been fitting for last year’s Halloween (and I actually went as this for my work Christmas party), but Beyonce is nothing if not perpetually relevant.

I had a copy of the “Feminist” sign blown up and printed at Officeworks, mounted it to thick cardboard and strapped to me like a backpack with elastic strips, with portable LED lights along the bottom. Add a leotard and presto: you’re Beyonce!

wrestling costumes

Mick Foley. (Honourable mentions: Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Tyler Breeze.)

As wrestling historian and podcaster David Shoemaker has said, wrestling cosplay has never been easier with guys like Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns: just add a white fedora and a Hawaiian shirt, and a flak jacket, respectively. A Cactus Jack t-shirt, a red flannel, leopard print boots and, of course, Mr. Socko make you Mick Foley’s most terrifying incarnation, while a selfie stick and a trip to Spotlight sees Tyler Breeze come to life at your local Halloween party.

marsha p johnson sylvia rivera


A lot of controversy has been kicked up surrounding the release of the white- and cis-washed retelling of the historic Stonewall riots. Instead of taking a page out of the movie’s script, why not go as some of the historical figures who were actually involved, such as Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. (Note: proceed with extreme caution as cosplaying these trans pioneers could come across as insensitive at best and transphobic at worst. The last thing you want is an equivalent of the Caitlyn Jenner costume so if you’re not confident you can pull it off without offense, then maybe choose something else from the list.)

cookie costume jazmine hughes


While not as successful in Australia, Empire is all the rage on U.S. TV screens and Taraji P. Henson’s Emmy-nominated portrayal of music matriarch and former inmate Cookie is ripe for the costuming. Sequins, animal print (preferably sequinned animal print) and faux fur complete the look. New York Times writer Jazmine Hughes even wrote a story for Cosmopolitan about dressing up as the character just in time for the holiday.

taylor swift squad goals

Taylor Swift & Her Squad.

For the more dedicated costumers, Swift’s “Bad Blood” video look can be completed with some dominatrix gear, weaponry and perhaps a red wig to complete the look. Otherwise, just grab your besties, chuck on your usual party gear and when people ask what you’re dressed as just tell ‘em “#SquadGoals”.

scream queens chanels

Scream Queens’ Chanels.

Three words: Fur. Pastels. Earmuffs.


Serena Williams.

2015 has been the year for women in sport. There’s currently a #DivasRevolution in professional wrestling, the World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s soccer team has been lauded at every turn, and Serena Williams dominated tennis, as she has every year but we finally started noticing. Raid your local Vinnie’s for some tennis duds and grab a racquet. Or, if you’re in need of some new workout gear, stop by your local sporting goods store and show Serena’s line some love.


Speaking of Serena and tennis, head on over to Junkee to check out my “Hotline Bling” Drake contribution as part of their roundup.

Related: Happy Slut-O-Ween: The Hyper-Sexualisation & -Feminisation of Costumes for Women.

Costumes & Gender.

A Very Manhattan Halloween.

Elsewhere: [Junkee] People Are Really Getting a Jump On Their Terrible, No Good Halloween Costumes This Year.

[Grantland] Reality Takes Over Night of Champions, For Better & For Worse.

[Facebook] Students Teaching About Racism in Society (STARS).

[Cosmopolitan] I Dressed Like Cookie for a Week to Get Over Imposter Syndrome.

Images via The New Yorker, Your Tango, Demotix, Moorewr, Pinterest, Heave Media, TBO, Bleacher Report, Neogaf, The Incidental Review, Cosmopolitan, Hollywood Reporter, Teen Choice, Odyssey, Vine.

Event: A Very Manhattan Halloween.

halloween miley cyrus robin thicke

halloween marilyn monroe

orange is the new black costume


We found Wally (or Waldo, as they are wont to call him over here).

ursula the little mermaid costume


Pets on parade.


greenwich village halloween parade 2013

Feminists in arms. (Norma Jean did work in the factories during World War II, after all, just like Rosie!)


greenwich village halloween parade 2013 1

regina george halloween costume

On Wednesdays we wear pink.

greenwich village halloween parade 2

tonto halloween costume

greenwich village halloween parade 2013

jellyfish halloween costume

the birds halloween costume

Unfortunately you can’t see The Birds, but this is Tippi Hedren.

In New York City’s Greenwich Village Halloween Parade I was surprised to be the only Marilyn Monroe in attendance that I could see. There were some arguably culturally insensitive costumes (a Tonto and a plethora of “sexy” Native Americans), a Banksy, some political statements (anti-fracking, anti-spying) and a kick-ass version of Orange is the New Black, complete with whiteface, marching in one of New York City’s most revered institutions.

Revelers dressed as jellyfish with umbrellas ruled the night and came prepared for the rain that was forecast and appeared on schedule as the parade began around 7pm. 60,000 people were expected to show up to walk and, seeing as last years festivities were interrupted by superstorm Sandy, 2013’s Halloween was a long awaited one. New Yorkers have a knack for rising above adversity and Thursday night was no exception.

While the parade is certainly an event that adults relish the opportunity to participate in, being a non-alcohol and -drug-fuelled event there were plenty of children and pets dressed up and ready to march up 6th Avenue, between Spring and 16th Streets, where the parade ended. A few blocks away (thought that didn’t stop my party from getting lost in transit!) was the official parade after party at Webster Hall, transformed into Webster Hell for the festivities. Thousand-dollar prizes were given to the best dressed, which included a white Little Wayne, Regina George, several Rosie the Riveters (the best one I saw came replete with the posters’ yellow background festooned to her in cardboard, which we didn’t manage to catch on camera) and many a Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus. A virgin was sacrificed on an occult alter at midnight, which we unfortunately missed on one of the many floors of partying. Tickets to the after party don’t come cheap, though, starting at $40 and increasing as the event draws closer (I paid $75 for my ticket, while those who opted to buy on the door were looking at $100 a pop!). Webster Hall undoubtedly pulled in an exorbitant amount of cash in ticket and bar sales, but the actual parade relied on $50,000 of KickStarter donations to get up and running again this year, as they were uninsured for the effects of Sandy.

Halloween is certainly gaining traction in Australia, increasingly among adults as much as trick-or-treating children, but America goes all out. Part of the reason I’m in New York City at this time of year is specifically to attend the 40th anniversary of the parade and the after party, assembling my costume months in advance and carting it halfway across the world, while the friend I’m staying in the city with and I traipsed through the Upper East and West Side’s thrift stores in search of the finishing touches for her costume (a silent film star).

Halloween here is not for the faint-hearted; many residents and businesses adorn their facades in all manner of holiday paraphernalia, soccer mums ferry their kids to and from school in costume, and over $7 billion is spent on costumes, candy and general Halloween merriment. No matter how you feel about it, All Hallows Eve is an exercise in Americana that doesn’t look to be going anywhere any time soon, especially not in the heart of New York City.

Elsewhere: [ New York] Village Halloween Parade Needs $50K to Recover from Hurricane Sandy.

Images via April Bonnick.

Costumes & Gender.

Snow White, Catwoman, (slutty) Rosie the Riveter, (slutty) Tiger Lily, Katy Perry in her “California Gurls” video, Eve… These are some of the costumes I’ve dressed up in for a variety of costume parties over the years. You will notice that each is either hyper-feminine and/or hyper-sexualised (when I went looking for a Belle from Beauty & the Beast costume for my 21st, the only one I could find for hire was a short, tight one that resembled the original character’s garb in no way).

At the other end of the dress-up spectrum, I have a couple of friends who relish costume parties as opportunities to stretch the gender performance barriers. Michelle has a penchant for covering her face in all manner of makeup and face paint for her takes on Puss in Boots, The Joker and Elphaba from Wicked (also known as the Wicked Witch of the West). Lana dresses skankily as often as she does dowdy, mixing it up as a bandit for our most recent Christmas party, Little Red Riding Hood, a male pirate when all her fellow females were attended as slutty wenches or slutty pirates (or slutty Tiger Lilys!), and Cher.

And on the other side of the coin, there’s Jackson, who was the scantily clad Adam to my Eve. When I suggested deviating from Captain Planet (for which he tried to convince me to let him wear just body paint. To a work do? I don’t think so!) to Adam, he said he’d go as whatever I wanted him to provided a) I organised the costume and, b) he got to show off some skin. He spends most nights in the gym, so what not flaunt what he’s worked hard for?

Around Halloween time, I read an article on sexy costumes for men, and how there are none. At least none that focus on the man as a sex object; rather, they suggest he’s the recipient of sexual favours from women:

“When men go sexy, it means joking about how men should be sexually serviced, have access to one night stands, or being in charge of and profiting from women’s bodies. A different type of ‘sexy’ entirely.”

For a man who’s confident—not cocky—in showing off his body (he’s even tossing up [pardon the pun] becoming a male stripper as a way to pay for a helicopter flying course), Jackson as Adam is certainly one to add to the seemingly non-existent “sexy male costume” column.

I find these attitudes to gender and costuming refreshing. Personally, as much as I talk the anti-gender stereotyping talk, I prefer to dress hyper-femininely, especially when it comes to costumes. Honestly, I guess I’m scared of coming across as anything less than “female” and whatever that means these days. I enjoy showing off my face, hair (which is why I chose to leave it out instead of wrapping it up in Rosie’s polka dot bandana) and body. I wish I were confident enough to buck this all-too-common trend amongst women and get my drag king on every now and then. In fact, my back-up costume if Adam and Eve fell through was Michael Jackson, so maybe I’m not as frightened about tapping into my masculine side as I thought.

While I’ve already got my Halloween costume in mind for this year’s festivities (Gloria Steinem undercover as a Playboy bunny: you can’t get much more hyper-sexualised than that!), perhaps this year I will resolve to step out of the one-slut-fits-all box and try something a little less feminine…?

Related: ’Tis the Season…

Elsewhere: [Ms. Magazine] What Do Sexy Halloween Costumes for Men Look Like?

Did Rosie the Riveter Wear Hotpants?


From Tiger Beatdown:

“… It is true: Beyonce does in fact dress as the iconic proto-feminist industrial worker when she has a particularly tough mechanical project to attend to. And she is, in fact, wearing hot pants! However… for those who take issue with the accuracy of her costume, remember: We only ever saw Rosie the Riveter from the waist up. We don’t know what kind of pants she was wearing. Rosie the Riveter may not have worn pants at all.

If this is true, I’m totes going as her for Halloween next year. And no, it’s not too early to start planning my outfit! We can do it!

Related: The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

Elsewhere: [Tiger Beatdown] Why Don’t You Love Beyonce? An Inquiry.

[Jezebel] The Many Incarnations of Rosie the Riveter.