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How to choose a Halloween costume that's appropriate for work

INSIDER logoINSIDER 10/12/2018 Amanda Krause
a group of people sitting at a desk © The Office US/YouTube

  • If your job encourages you to wear costumes to work on Halloween, you'll need to find a balance between having fun and staying professional.
  • Speak to your managers and establish clear guidelines as to what your office deems appropriate to wear on Halloween.
  • Aim to have fun with your costume, but also make sure that you don't have any big meetings or presentations scheduled that would make wearing a costume awkward.
  • Remain sensitive to others around you - don't wear anything that could be considered cultural appropriation, too gory-looking, or politically charged.
  • Don't force anyone on your team to dress up.

Halloween is usually associated with free candy, fun costumes, and classic movies, but those who have to spend the day at work might end up associating it with stress and discomfort.

While some may find dressing up to be a fun break in a grueling work week, others are left confused as to what to wear. If that's the case at your job, you'll need to find a balance between festive costumes and work-appropriate attire, which can be difficult.

To avoid looking unprofessional, we've compiled some tips for dressing up at work below.

Talk to your managers about what's deemed appropriate at your workplace on Halloween

Especially if this is your first Halloween spent at your job. Make sure to ask supervisors about what is expected of employees. Your office might have strict rules - or could be completely lenient - but you don't want to be the last one to know, either way.

Similarly, make sure to ask your coworkers what the culture of your job is like on Halloween. Fellow employees are probably the only ones who will warn you if people tend to opt out.

Make sure that your costume doesn't interfere with your job

a man standing in front of a store © Spritzer Holding Company

Just because your boss says that it's OK to dress as Pac-Man, a LEGO, or any other bulky costume in the office, doesn't mean that you should.

If you can't sit down, walk comfortably, or perform any of the basic functions needed to do your job, you should pick a new look. The same goes for costumes that may be considered distracting.

You'll also want to stick with your company's dress code and avoid unsafe clothing. For example, if you're generally not allowed to wear open-toed shoes to work for safety reasons, follow that rule when choosing your costume.

And it's not just your personal safety that you should look out for. Avoid wearing costumes that include excess body paint, fake blood, or any other transferable coloring. You should have fun on Halloween, but not at the expense of staining office furniture.

Check your calendar before choosing your costume

a woman wearing a dress © 20th Century Fox Studios

Once you know what's acceptable to wear, take a look at your calendar. If you have a big meeting, are planning on hiring or firing someone, or have any other major work plans the day of Halloween, you're better off skipping a costume.

If you must be festive, try a fun accessory or bold makeup look instead.

Bring a change of clothes with you in case something serious comes up

You might not have any appointments scheduled on Halloween, but that doesn't mean that something won't come up.

Just in case, bring a change of clothes with you to work. After all, you don't want to get an unexpected office visit while wearing a clown costume, or something equally absurd.

To really err on the safe side, create a DIY costume using your regular work clothes.

Remain sensitive to other employees when choosing your costume a woman with pink hair taking a selfie © Paramount Pictures

A joke that seems funny to you might come across as insensitive to a coworker. Any costumes that include crude jokes, foul language, harsh political views, or are meant to imitate or mock fellow employees should be avoided as a result. Besides, they're generally not acceptable in work settings to begin with.

You'll also want to stay away from special FX makeup, fake blood, clowns, and other costumes that others may find too gory or disturbing.

Most importantly, you should remain sensitive to all cultures, even if you don't think they're represented in your office. Avoid wearing offensive costumes like these. Even if they are sold at major retailers, that doesn't mean they're acceptable to wear. If you're questioning whether or not your costume portrays a cultural stereotype, you're better off not wearing it at all.

If your costume features a weapon-like prop, leave it at home

A wide range of costumes - from arrow-slinging superheroes to baseball bat-carrying characters of "The Walking Dead" - require weapon-like props.

In today's society, workplace violence is all too common and makes carrying realistic props into work a bad idea. People should be able to figure out what your costume is without a fake weapon. If they can't, it's worth picking a new costume entirely.

Don't force anyone in your office to dress up

People in leadership positions might feel disappointed by those who don't share an enthusiasm for Halloween.

Though it's not wrong to encourage team participation, dressing up for Halloween isn't a required work task. Keep in mind that many people don't celebrate the holiday for both religious and personal reasons, so costumes and other festive activities shouldn't be forced upon any employee.

Related Video: How to Carve a Pumpkin With Power Tools (Provided by Buzz60)

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