The best thing about Halloween is Drew Droege’s hilarious impression of Chloë Sevigny saying “Halloween.” And though you’d have to have a heart of stone and battery acid not to appreciate Halloween in “creative professional” havens like my ‘hood, where the kids come dressed as Wes Anderson characters, it’s not for me. And my Halloween horror started raging long before my hormones did.
Candy vs Costumes
Unlike many Halloween enthusiasts, I must admit that I don’t fully embrace Halloween, not even as a child of the ’70s and ’80s when Halloween was exceptionally important. I’ve never been the type to spend hours crafting the perfect outfit for a night of tricks and treats. As a child, my approach was entirely different from that of my friends.
While my friends were passionately crafting and creating their costumes from construction paper and Elmer’s glue, I took a different route. On Halloween, you could find me rummaging through my basement’s cedar closet, sifting through a treasure trove of vintage clothing from my grandmother’s once-owned clothing store. I’d pick out items like boas, necklaces, fur muffs, or a charming vintage sailor dress. One item that always fascinated me was a pair of rhinestone heels, a tad too big for my tiny feet. After adorning myself with these treasures, I’d add a dot of red lipstick, perhaps a beauty mark, and I went off without a hint of cardboard or plastic. I was never one to pretend; I just wanted the candy. Full stop. Here’s a pic of me in a wig that I liked. That was the level of effort I would put towards trick or treating.
The Quest for Authenticity
In a broader, metaphorical sense, not much has changed for me. I’m still pursuing all the “candy” that life offers, but I’m not willing to pretend to be someone else to get it. I’ll play along with the holiday spirit, but always on my terms. Pretending to be someone I’m not has never been my strong suit; plus, not many people know this but I’m shy and don’t love attention. So, call me a Halloween agnostic or someone more comfortable just being me. Don’t even get me started on Burning Man. Fire + exhibitionism + weird costumes + tech bros = the stuff of nightmares.
The Career Costume Parties
My past life as an employee in a top advertising agency often meant office holiday parties with themed costumes, which would make me want to take a Xanax for the obvious pressure to be as creative as I could. Imagine the head of your agency rolling into the office with his crew on motorcycles in full Cobra Kai costumes for an ’80s-themed evening. That’s way too much for me. While I admired how my colleagues fully embraced the costume themes, I only partially did. I’d nod to the theme, maybe wear polka dots for a circus-themed party or add a hint of red for a “red” party, but that’s about it. You could call me a Halloween party minimalist. I don’t like to cause a fuss. And PS, don’t look at me.
I’ve always been true to myself, even during Halloween. I’ll admire all you fabulous people in your creative costumes, but you’ll find me being just me. That’s all I know, and I’m sticking to it. I don’t think I will start craving costumery at this age, but you never know. After all, I’m a girl who will wear sequins to brunch, so I have little use for a costume.
Some costumes I may be able to tolerate
I’m forgetting what movie this reference is from, but I love the idea of a slip dress with a picture of Freud. You get the gist. Cerebral-ween is much preferred to Hot Girl-ween.
Also, Jane Fonda in Klute. I have a shag haircut and was wearing a long macramé dress to a party the other night (as one does), and somebody mentioned “I was giving” Jane Fonda from Klute. That I like.
Devil horns. I like those with red lipstick. That’s my idea of a costume.
Classic also wins with me. A sheet with some holes. One and done. And forgiving enough to accommodate a sack of candy. Score.
One year, my husband and I thought of being Hall and Oates. I’m Oates. That would be fun, somehow. I am from Philly, after all.
I know my lack of relevance or cultural gravitas is unnerving. This is why I should be far from a costume.
While I may not be the one marching in full costume in a Halloween parade, I find joy in this holiday’s simple pleasures, surrounded by those who bring their unique flair to the festivities, like my wonderful neighbors here in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. So, whether you’re a Halloween enthusiast or a minimalist like me, let’s enjoy this time of year in a way that feels fun for you. Happy Halloween, everyone! Now give me all the candy. Or this strapless leather Proenza Schouler dress featured on none other than Chloë Sevigny. This I would wear to a frightfest any time. Or anywhere. Maybe even brunch. I’m fun like that.
Oh, and if Halloween is very much your vibe, here are the top costumes of 2023, according to USA Today. Hint: Hi, Barbie!