Seven Halloween Costumes to Avoid

There's only ten shopping days left before Halloween. So, it's time for Halloween costume listicles! Lots of people want to tell you what to wear. We'd like to spare you the humiliation of following their advice.

Every year there are a bunch of people who all decide to take something topical as inspiration for a "witty" outfit. We have a good idea what they'll be this year, and you should check yourself before you scare everyone. So, to avoid the great Borat outbreak of 2006 or the Dark Knight/Joker takeover of 2008, here are some pop cultural outfits that you definitely want to leave in the costume shop if you don't want to run into several dozen other yahoos wearing the exact same getup.

Seven Halloween Costumes to Avoid

Sarah Palin
Why Not: It was a bad idea last year. It's even worse this year. Besides, while everyone who doesn't race snow machines is still trying to forget her, you'll just be helping her sell books.
Safe Alternative: Levi Johnston
What You Need to Make It: This is a boy's only costume. All you'll need is a nude body stocking (or a pair of briefs if you're bold) and attach a vintage copy of Playgirl to the crotch. Bonus points for carrying a baby and/or a bag of pistachio nuts. If you have a friend who will dress up as Tank Jones, your look is made.

Seven Halloween Costumes to Avoid

Max from Where the Wild Things Are
Why Not: This would have been cute a year ago, but now that the movie's out, everyone's going to try to replicate it. You can do better than that.
Safe Alternative: H.R. Puffinstuff
What You Need to Make It: You're going to need a whole lot of paper machine, fabric, paint, and time to do this other retro children's hero up right, but it will be a huge hit.

Seven Halloween Costumes to Avoid

Summer of Death Celebrities
Why Not: No, it's not too soon, it's just not very creative. So yes, that means no Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, or any of the others we've lost recently. It's not edgy, just lazy.
Safe Alternative: Elizabeth Taylor or Kirk Douglas. They're not dead yet, but they could be any day. Go as the next dead celebrity.
What You Need to Make It: For Dame Liz, a wheelchair, a crazy hat, and some White Diamonds perfume. For Kirk, a cleft chin, a tuxedo, and disappointment in your son, Michael.

Seven Halloween Costumes to Avoid

Zombie/Vampire
Why Not: Because every movie, TV show and book these days is about one or the other. Every teenage girl and boy is going to be rocking this, so you'll look like you're trying too hard to be down with the youngs.
Safe Alternative: A banshee. They are so the monster of 2010.
What You Need to Make It: Long hair (a wig will do), a long white gown preferably tattered, and a loud shouting voice.

Seven Halloween Costumes to Avoid

Balloon Boy
Why Not: This is going to be popular because it will be easy to rig together and everyone will think it's funny and current. It's neither. And let's hope that in 11 days this story is officially over.
Safe Alternative: The old man from Up.
What You Need to Make It: Square glasses, grey hair, a sweater vest. Attach a bunch of baloons and a cardboard cutout of a house to your back and it's up, up, and away.

Seven Halloween Costumes to Avoid

Don Draper from Mad Men
Why Not: Just because you put on a suit, a pocket square, and slicked down hair, you are not Don Draper. Everyone will know that you came up with this at 2pm on October 31 and probably never even watched the show. It is also not an excuse to drink and smoke a lot. Just do that on your own.
Safe Alternative: British Guy from Mad Men. You know, the one who got his foot run over with a lawn mower.
What You Need to Make It: An antique John Deere, a bloody stump, and several blood-sprayed onlookers with a shocked look on their faces. It's disgusting and creative. Perfect for Halloween!

[Image via Getty]