As Cady Heron (in one of Lindsay Lohan’s finest performances ever) famously put it in the 2004 masterpiece Mean Girls, “In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say anything else about it.” If you’ve ever been out on All Hallow’s Eve, you know exactly what she means.
The risqué Halloween costume trend has been around for years, and seems to be staying put. Whether gals do it subtly by channeling a sexy zombie or frisky feline, or more overtly by dressing as a Playboy bunny, showing skin is a given on the holiday.
But not everyone feels that this trend is one worth continuing. To hash out the debate once and for all, Who What Wear editors Kat Collings and Meghan Blalock go head to head on the topic—one woman is pro, the other is con. Keep scrolling to read their opinions!
In the past few years, there’s been a lot of backlash against sexy Halloween costumes. Before you sneer at the sultry snowman or firefighter’s outfit, consider my experience freshman year of college, I dressed up as a
slutty scintillating French maid, in a $39.99 costume [pictured above] complete with bloomers and a feather duster—for swatting off the boys I assumed.
The costume was my first experience dabbling in the art of provocative ensembles. To put this in perspective, my most memorable high school-era Halloween get-up was John Kerry. Clearly, college was the ideal time to do a 180 and unleash my inner vixen. I stepped out in my alarmingly short outfit (plus bloomers, because decency) and couldn’t be stopped. I was a lady on fire with all the possibilities of my mass-produced, culturally-approved sexiness.
I knew my domestic servant costume was a hit when the next day, the cute guy who lived down my dorm hall slid a mix CD* [pictured below] under my door addressed to “the French Maid.” He may not have cared to note my name, but no matter, I was downright delighted with the attention my costume had attracted. You may be asking: Is this the right way to attract suitors? Shouldn’t you be dazzling them with your wits, your charm, or at the very least your Jane Eyre book collection? To this I ask: Is that the right question?
In the words of Mindy Kaling, my costume made me feel all hot ‘n’ popular. As cliché as it may sound, it was liberating to experiment with an alluring outfit, and I enjoyed exercising my prerogative to wear it. Bottom line: It made me feel good. Which is really who you’re dressing for, right? So whether the Halloween style that makes you feel your best is more geriatric politician or seductive cleaning lady, we should be celebrating the art of costume, and in a larger sense, dressing, as our choice to wear whatever ridiculous, awesome, sexually-charged things we want.
*Please note, aforementioned CD was a compilation of meditation songs. So what if I liked ge practices and had a penchant for slutty costumes? I was a woman of the world, dammit!
—Who What Wear Senior Editor Kat Collings
Admittedly, most of my friends and family would be shocked to hear that I fall on the “con” side of this debate. Here’s an abridged list of the ladies I’ve gone as for Halloween since high school: Beyoncé from the “Single Ladies” video, Beyoncé from the “Crazy in Love” video, Lady Gaga during her bra-and-panties stage, Lady Gaga in an all-white lace bodysuit, and, yes, an actual Playboy bunny.
And yet, here I am, asserting that the slutty Halloween costume phase is so overdone. And let me tell you why: Because in the past when I’ve gone as something risqué for Halloween, the potential trashiness of my costume was outweighed by its sheer creativity and top-notch follow-through (if I do say so myself). For the Lady Gaga underwear costume, I spent hours bedazzling a bra by hand with rhinestones; for the Beyoncé “Single Ladies” costume, I built the one-hand metallic glove myself. The Playboy bunny costume, sadly, was store-bought—and it’s possible I’ve never regretted a single decision more than that one.
If you’re going to be slutty for Halloween, the only time it’s okay is if you are super creative in your sluttiness. A good example? I had a friend tell me recently that she wants to go as a slutty unicorn because she found a really cute unicorn horn online. I let out a heavy sigh, and suggested she could at least make a little bit of effort and go as Slutty Unicorn-on-the-Cob. I mean, come on!
And now we get into the meat of this debate: Why isn’t it okay to just throw on a costume that looks like underwear, and be done with it? Because, once again, it gives the men in our overtly patriarchal society all the power. After all, who is it that tells us a woman in a skimpy cat costume or dressed as a bunny in a bodysuit comprised of little more than black lace is sexy? As much as Beyoncé might tell us otherwise, it’s the men who have told us this.
If you look at modern fashion trends, you might be as delighted as I am to find that many of the things we ladies are rocking these days are not things men have told us are sexy and attractive. Oversized boyfriend jeans, Birkenstock sandals, the military trend—I like to think these are trends we women started, because we finally are taking charge of our personal style in a way that puts our own preferences ahead of those dictated by men.
Personally, I’d like to extend that same empowerment to our costume choices this year. Don’t clad yourself in next to nothing just because you think that’s what men want to see. Wear a costume that you want to wear just because you want to wear it. This is why I’ll be going as Garth from Wayne’s World this year—because, as Garth would put it, there’s nothing more “magically babelicious” than being true to yourself at all times.
—Who What Wear Managing Editor Meghan Blalock
So what do YOU think of the risqué Halloween costume trend? Tell us in the comments below!