Tomorrow is Halloween! It's a sacred holiday for children, what with the heaping mounds (if you do not feel like a nut) of candy and the fun, scaaarryyy costumes. The costume aspect also makes it something of an important day for adults because, to paraphrase the Dead Kennedys, you get a night of being someone else before you step back into your mold the next day. But really, you're always you and one can tell a lot about a person from their choice of Halloween attire. Really, there are five types of costumes (and only five types of people!), and we'll dissect them—and what they say about their wearer—after the jump.
The Sexy Blanks Arguably the most popular costume for women, the sexy/slutty variant costumes run the gamut from slutty ironic (Sexy Sarah Palin!) to the shatteringly mundane (Sexy Nurse, Sexy French Maid, Sexy Sex Worker). The implication of these costumes is by no means that the be-Sexied are, in fact, promiscuous women in the light of day, but that the whole enterprise of a Halloween party is, for some, an excuse to finally play into creaky and ugly sexual mores about what men want and what women are willing to give them. If it's all pretend, if it's all for a joke, then Gloria Steinhem won't mind! And then in the morning, when they wake up next to a coyote ugly whose name they think might be Gary and they tiptoe out in their torn fishnets and shiny plastic skirts into the cold November 1st air, it may seem like a sad mistake. But come 363 days later, they'll probably be shopping for the same kind of thing. Unless they get married! (There is a gay guy equivalent for this, and it usually involved Sexy Prep School Harry Potter.)
The Ironic References Wouldn't it be funny to be, like, Zack from Saved By the Bell? Or, um, what about that guy from Head of the Class? The allure of doing something kitschy and pop culture chic can be strong! Members of the opposite (or same) sex will laugh and smile at you and think you terribly clever and you'll have a nice jumping off point for conversation ("Oh my god, remember that episode when...?") The problem is, nine times out of ten the costume has been done before and been done better. Even worse, there might be two Miami Vices at the same party and you'll both just kind of look silly and not at all funny. These are the people who take improv classes and send weird YouTube videos to all their friends. These are some of my people, and good people they often are. But sometimes it's all laid on a little thick and it makes everyone feel tired.
The Sad Mechanicals Fairies, really detailed Harry Potter costumes, zomg there will be Twilight costumes, things of that ilk. You know, nerd stuff. This kind of costumery can be really aspirational in a quietly haunting way. Have you ever been at a Halloween party (or been that person at a party) who is enjoying their fake magic wand just a little too much? Or maybe you catch them admiring their elf ears in the mirror one too many times? If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then these kinds of Halloween get-ups are the windows to the lonely, echoing corner of the heart where the dream of being someone else entirely is kept locked away. I've no problem with flights of fancy, but to channel it all into one day and couch it all in "just being in the spirit!" is sad and telling. I say embrace it all year! One of my best friends wore a Star Trek outfit to high school sometimes. Like a lot, apparently. In the middle of April. And bless her for it.
The Seriously Scaries Sometimes Halloween is actually scary! How awkward is it when someone walks in who is wearing like just a little too much fake blood. Or they've got on too-convincing zombie makeup. Or they're kind of goth in real life and mostly look the same except they've got fangs in their mouths and are wearing a cape. There's nothing wrong with being creepy on Halloween (see below), but sometimes too much is too much. We are, after all, grownups, who—as banal and depressing as this may sound—appreciate things like decorum and the fact that tomorrow Bob with the guts spilling out and Sarah with the corn syrup smeared all over her face will be reporting to their cubicles or their classrooms or wherever it is they go about working. I'm not saying that they shouldn't go balls out, but it can still awkward and weird. Or am I just a Halloween Grinch?
The Good Ones These are the ones that make you profoundly jealous because you never think of things that good and why can you ever think of things that good? My same friend who wore the Star Trek uniform in high school went as Someone Going Really Fast to a college Halloween party one year. Like her hair was sticking back and she put wire in her tie and staples in her pants and it was really, really cool. Other times people are just the right amount of scary—but they still look like people—and you quietly (or drunkenly and loudly) applaud them for their moxie and ingenuity and you look at your non-costume and think "what the hell is wrong with me?" Actually maybe there's a sixth type. The People (Like Me) Who Are Shitty And Don't Wear A Costume At All. Because we're too embarrassed or too above it or just "didn't have time" and will now sulk and drink glumly in a corner, quietly hoping to go home with that Sexy Stewardess, or that Ron Weasley with his tie perfectly undone, or that fairy girl dancing by herself, or Ned from HR who is pretending—quite realistically—to devour Frannie from Development. I guess that's it. Usually all you want to do at the end of a Halloween party is slink off into the night with someone, leave your costume in a pile on the floor, and just be that scariest thing of all: Your naked self.