Halloween Costumes in the Office: The Good, the Bad & the Inappropriate

Oct. 27, 2015 How to get Hired, Staffing News


Halloween is a time for the spooky, the creative, and the comical. What it isn’t the time for is offensive costumes that will make your coworkers extremely uncomfortable. Here are some tips that will help you avoid being that coworker at the Halloween party and instead help you make good choices for Halloween Costumes at work.

DO THIS: BE CREATIVE
NOT THIS: BE UNCOVERED

Keep your company’s dress code in the back of your mind as you’re assembling a costume. Though Halloween is a time to express yourself and be creative, you’re still around your coworkers in a work environment. If you’re going to come in an off-the-shoulder bed sheet/toga as Julius Caesar, make sure you’re wearing a shirt (and shorts) underneath your garment. If your Queen of Hearts dress is a little too short to be considered work-appropriate, consider wearing leggings underneath it for the work day.

Once the work day is over, you still have the choice to remove these extra layers to attend your Halloween parties and events with friends.

DO THIS: BE A SKELETON
NOT THIS: BE A SUGAR SKULL

Though sugar skulls are beautiful, they actually have nothing to do with Halloween and everything to do with Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), a holiday that started in Mexico and is exclusive to the Mexican culture. Dia de los Muertos isn’t even on Halloween; in fact, the holiday is on November 2nd.

Sugar skulls represent a departed soul. Often you’d see names of the souls written on the foreheads of these sugar skulls. Sugar skulls are a way to deeply honor the return of a particular spirit. Due to their cultural significance, it may be disrespectful to recreate a sugar skull look on your face. We advise going with the culturally aware option, sticking with a standard skull/skeleton combo instead.

DO THIS: PICK A FAVORITE TV SHOW/MOVIE/BOOK CHARACTER
NOT THIS: ALTERING YOUR SKIN COLOR WITH PAINT/TANNER TO MIMIC SAID CHARACTER’S RACE

Work Appropriate Halloween Costumes

This is something that shouldn’t have to be said, but unfortunately when you see celebrities, like Julianne Hough in 2013, darkening their skin color to portray a character, it’s time for a reminder. Altering your skin color to portray another race is blatantly offensive. Don’t do it. Odds are, your coworkers will not find it funny and you may end up in the hot seat in the HR department. A great example on what is 100% acceptable is this group on the right dressing up as a variety of characters from the 1980s film Coming to America.

Socially acceptable skin color changes include characters like: Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, Gonzo from The Muppets, and characters like Disgust and Sadness from Pixar’s latest film Inside Out. You get the gist. Just use your best judgement.

A good rule of thumb is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask “could someone find this offensive?”If you’re unsure, either ask someone in HR or err on the side of caution and go with another option. We hope this list helps you keep your work-related Halloween events fun and trouble-free! Have a Happy Halloween everyone!