What does your Halloween costume say about you?

Based on no science at all, zero case studies and purely personal experience, I have put together this post for your enjoyment.

Answer the following questions:

  1. What did you dress up as for Halloween last year?
  2. What was your costume on your 10th birthday?
  3. What was your costume on your 18th birthday?

Looking back on your previous costumes, do you detect one prominent pattern or theme? Another way to find your pattern is to figure out if you have ever dressed up as the same thing multiple times.

For example, most of my costumes over the last 30 years have relied heavily upon glitter: Fairies covered in glitter, princesses sprinkled with glitter, vampires dipped in glitter. This life changing realization taught me absolutely nothing about myself, but is now a fun fact I share at parties.

Read on to find yours…

Halloween Costume Personalities

Here are the different Halloween costume categories and their explanations:

Historical

Good for you! You are well-read, love academics and favor history to reality TV. Halloween is your time to honor it.

  • Obvious Explanation: You really want people to look at you and say, “Aha! Benjamin Franklin!” but most likely people will look at you and say, ‘Who are you supposed to be?” Prepare yourself.
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: I think dressing up as a historical person is a lovely way to make a statement on a silly holiday. You educate people (Buzz Aldrin—you know the SECOND guy to land on the moon?), you encourage people to Google the name you mention (I’m Jean-Paul Sartre… that’s Jean-Paul with a dash and spelled S-A-R…) and it gives you an excuse to talk about your favorite conversational topic (So whose your favorite historical leader, living or dead?).

The Funny Guy (or Gal)

Did you dress up as Barney the purple dinosaur? How about the Kool Aid guy? If your number one goal was to make people laugh with your costume then you are the funny guy (or gal).

  • Obvious Explanation: You like to bring joy to the world. Bringing a smile to people’s face is the best part of your day.
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: You’re proving to people how funny you are. Wearing a funny Halloween costume is a little like when actors read pre-written jokes off a teleprompter during an awards ceremony. You have had all year to come up with your funny costume – so yeah, you get some credit, but it’s not necessarily an indicator of how funny you really are.

The Sex Pot

If you wander the aisles of Halloween stores, you are guaranteed to overhear girls saying something along the lines of “How low is too low?” and “If I show my legs can I also show cleavage?” and “Is this good slutty or bad slutty?” And you know the guy who takes his shirt off at every (non-Halloween) opportunity? He will DEFINITELY have his shirt off for Halloween (think 300, Michael Phelps or Baywatch).

  • Obvious Explanation: Halloween is the one time of year where girls can wear almost nothing in public and not be called a slut (behind her back). Guys with 6-packs can walk around without a shirt on without being called a douche (behind his back).
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: You work hard for your body. You don’t eat white food, you do lots of sit-ups and you want to show it off. Good for you. If you got it, why not flaunt it?

Something in a Recycled Box

A washing machine. A robot. A rectangular R2D2 . You’ve repurposed a giant box and turned it into a brilliant costume.

  • Obvious Explanation: You’re an upcycler—the new recycle. You take something and give it a new purpose and use. It’s cheaper, it’s clever and it saves you from having to breakdown the cardboard and squeeze it into your garbage chute.
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: I have this theory that people who have any kind of cardboard box costume are really frickin’ awesome. It seems like my favorite people who are super cool have tackled this costume (my sister Haley, my 6th grade English teacher and my blonde friend—you know who you are.) I think this is because the Box costume takes ingenuity (cutting cardboard isn’t easy), courage (it’s really hard to fit into cars and some doors) and authenticity (let’s be real, a box ain’t so sexy but it’s definitely eye catching).

Scary

Anything with fake blood falls into the scary category. So do zombies, grotesque anatomy related make-up and references to frightening characters.

  • Obvious Explanation: You love practical jokes, jumping out of closets and playing this Youtube video for your friends:

  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: You secretly like the dark side. Maybe you spent a few months as a goth in High School or maybe you like dark and brooding make-up. Here’s your excuse to take a trip to the darker arts.

Too-Soon

It’s too-soon for Hitler. It’s too soon for Hurricane Katrina. It’s too soon for the Columbine (yes, even if you wear a Columbine t-shirt with bloody bullet holes).

  • Obvious Explanation: Ok, so you didn’t run this idea by your best friend. I believe you—it was supposed to be funny and fell flat. Turn your shirt inside out and say you’re an obscure reality TV star. People will forgive you.
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: You hate Halloween and this is a really clever way to make people uncomfortable and be asked to leave the party early. SCORE! An excuse to turn off all the lights and watch Netflix.

Drag

You’re a guy and you dressed like a prom queen. You’re a girl and you dressed like a Frat Bro. Good for you—Halloween is the time to experiment.

  • Obvious Explanation: Curious what it’s like to step into someone else’s shoes? Have you always been curious to literally wear someone else’s shoes? Take this pumpkin-filled night to satiate your curiosity.
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: I had a lot—I mean A LOT of guy friends who dressed in drag in college. By Senior year, I began to suspect that it had something to do with them wanting to riffle through my underwear drawer.

The Pair or Group

Are you usually a dynamic duo? Have you been someone’s Ivanka to their Donald? A Minnie to someone’s Mickey? Have you dressed up as a big group of smurfs?

  • Obvious Explanation: Dressing up with someone else makes Halloween a multi-day experience. You get to brainstorm with friends, shop together and get ready all day. It extends the joys of Halloween beyond the night.
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: You want to go wild, BUT you need a security blanket. Dressing up with friends makes it easier to go crazy and assures that you will not be left alone during the festivities. A duo also helps you claim your partner—you know who you’re going home with.

Punny

Some of my favorite clever costumes: An identity crisis (someone with a bunch of different name tags on their shirt), Tropical Depression (someone in a Hawaiian shirt holding a bottle of Prozac) and Judgement Day (someone holding a calendar and a gavel).

  • Obvious Explanation: You’re super clever and you want your costume to show it.
  • Not-So-Obvious Explanation: You’re tired of having to freeze your bum off dressed in a tiny maid costume or you’re tired of hobbling home after a night in “fireman heels.” You’ve decided to use your brain not your body.

So, what will you be this Halloween? Tweet me! click to tweet

Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Hi, I'm Vanessa!

Lead Investigator, Science of People

I'm the author of the national bestselling book Captivate, creator of People School, and human behavioral investigator in our lab.

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