When we were kids, Halloween costumes consisted of some very specific staples: there were the princesses and fairies, the ghosts, witches, and vampires, and then the pirates, spacemen, and cowboys. Sure, there were variations on each, and some of the more creative-minded parents would go all-out on homemade suits that resembled crayons or food items, but the majority of those waddling from block to block were nearly identical. As more companies and specialty stores got in on the holiday, though, the hot ticket pop culture characters became fair game, and soon Ninja Turtles and Care Bears roamed with reckless abandon. Nowadays, it seems those fads are drawing more and more interest and inspiration, retiring some of the tried and true classics simply because they have not been revamped for the times, and kids aren't the only ones getting in on the dress-up fun. Despite what Miranda claimed in The Sex and the City Movie, the only two choices for women are not "sexy kitten or witch" anymore!
And the timing couldn't be better because for the first time in years, I am finding myself mildly interested in taking part in the long-lost tradition. Between the office costume contest I have heard so much about and being invited to three separate parties, I feel like I just can't avoid it this year. I don't want to be too common with what I opt to do, though, and of course the political costumes will come out in droves: Obama supporters going as Obama, McCain supporters going as McCain, some menfolk as Joe the Plumber, and even women against Sarah Palin going as Palin... and then bringing along a friend dressed up as an assassin to act out a little skit in the middle of any party or parade. However, those choices are a bit obvious. Some may even get a group of their best girlfriends and go as the girls of Sex and the City themselves, which is really just an excuse to buy a new designer outfit, if you ask me (and yes, I'm a little bitter that I didn't think of it first!). But that won't win too many points in the creativity department either. This year seems to be all about nostalgia, and those who want to take home a Best Costume prize should start looking back in order to go forward.
Trends are cyclical, and 2008 has truly been about the most popular kids in the class coming back to their reunion and still ruling all. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and 90210 are back on TV again; the New Kids on the Block released a new album and toured the country; and Indiana Jones released a new, if somewhat lackluster, installment. A great group costume would be to go as the NKOTB boys circa their late-eighties heyday, sure to garner laughs as well as a trip down memory lane. This-- or any boy band costume (another favorite would be 2ge+her)-- is a unisex idea, but perhaps works best when it is a woman in drag, stepping into the shoes (and Hammer pants) of her favorite Block member of yesteryear. Even cone-bra'd Madonna or jean jacketed Debbie Gibson is a nice callback. Plus, it's an excuse to dig out your old leg warmers, crimping irons, and plastic neon bangles, and the best part is, you won't have to spend money on an expensive get-up out of which you'll only get one use.
In honor of the new Harry Potter film, which has been delayed until 2009, many are opting to dress up as Harry himself or simply one of the other Hogwarts students. Logging onto the official Harry Potter website, you can get assigned to a specific school within the campus and then get directed to a costume website that will help you pull your "official" look together. The sweater is simple enough: gray with gold and maroon stripes that could pass for a piece of USC merchandise, but pair it with an embroidered robe, a light-up wand, and some spell books, and you're in business.
After her reality show spun catchphrases by the handful, Rachel Zoe became a household name to more than just the fashion-philes. With her black leggings, black boots, loosely draped fur, flying saucer-sunglasses, and Starbucks cup and Blackberry perpetually glued to her hands, it should be a fairly easy ensemble to put together. The one downside to going as Ms. Zoe this year is that if you forget to pencil wrinkles and dark shadows under your eyes, most will probably mistake you for an Olsen twin and relegate you to the "outdated and no longer relevant" costume category.
Similarly, some other choice costumes that will only be clever for a limited time (read: this year) include Lil Wayne for the dudes (a black mop, a white wifebeater, and some liquid eyeliner to draw on tattoos), Teen Pregnancy in honor of Jaime Lynn, Bristol Palin, and presumably Miley Cyrus or Vanessa Hudgens in a year or so for the chicks (complete with Mrs. Jonas tee-shirt riding up to the midriff thanks to the bump), and Celebrity Rehab (big sunglasses, crazy long hair, endless supply of cigarettes—not completely unlike the Rachel Zoe costume), which works for either or both, and also plays into the nostalgia factor because most of them are C-List has beens anyway. But personally, I think I'm leaning toward being "Facebook" and basically just sticking a bunch of little round buttons all over a plain tee shirt and jeans and calling myself "Flair." Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments!