Without a doubt, Halloween is one of the most entertaining and carefree holidays; it’s all about dress-up, candy, and a few healthy scares. And who doesn’t relish slipping into somebody (or something) else’s skin and shedding real life for a few hours? Naturally, many of us want the fun to start the instant we wake up on October 31st and although you can’t really take on a brand new persona or play pretend at the office, the creative costume here and there certainly gives the average workday a burst of much-needed energy.

However, before you whip out the hot little Lady Gaga number you’ve been planning since June, it pays to stop and take a moment to consider your workplace. Sometimes wearing a costume to the office is not an option, so be aware of your workplace climate. In the current economy—with job security being what it is (or isn’t)—many workplaces have become rather tense. This can go either way, a little dress-up is a great way to blow off some steam and bond with your co-workers; however, job stress can also make a usually low-key environment less friendly to fun and games. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and save Halloween for after hours.

If you are planning on bringing some Halloween spirit to work, a little strategy goes a long way in fashion and in your career, so be sure you’re making the best impression possible. Here are a few tips to ensure your costume is a professional hit:


Know your audience and think long-term.If you’re making an important presentation in a few weeks, or a performance review is on the horizon, you don’t want anyone picturing you in clown makeup and a rainbow wig.

Wear something subtly playful. Think tiny devil horns and a tailored crimson jacket, or a halo and flawlessly angelic winter whites.

Plant the seeds of success and opt for an aspirational costume. Dress as a powerful woman you want to emulate—perhaps judge’s robes à la Sonia Sotomayor or super-chic, subtly glamorous separates and glowing skin à la Nina Garcia. Yes, these aren’t the most exciting costumes but you can break those out after hours.

Have a backup. Bring a quick change, just in case you arrive at the office only to discover that after all of yesterday’s Halloween talk, nobody else dressed up.


Don’t dress as a sexy anything. Nurse, policewoman, schoolgirl, Snooki from Jersey Shore, Catwoman, etc. Keep your look PG and appropriate.

Avoid masks, over-the-top makeup, or cumbersome props. Again, you want to maintain a touch of your own persona and the ability to do your work throughout the day.

Steer clear of political or religious figures. Just like cocktail parties and small talk, keep it light, you never know who might be offended.

Don’t dress as any notorious person from the news. Casey Anthony is a no-no, see above.

And finally, don’t dress as your boss or anyone else you work with. No matter how much self-deprecating humor they indulge in, most people do not like to feel that they are being laughed at rather than with.