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The 15 Worst Halloween Costumes You Need to Avoid

From the offensive to the lazy, these are the worst Halloween costumes out there.

Just because Halloween is fun doesn't mean it's not also endlessly stressful; social media has made the need for creative, eye-catching costumes more pressing than ever. However, though there are so many options for great Halloween costumes, year after year, people continue to make the absolute worst choices when it comes to their Halloween looks. To avoid inspiring some serious eye rolls or seriously offending someone at your Halloween party this year, read up on some of the worst Halloween costumes you should definitely avoid.

Just a mask

plastic halloween masks

A mask is a great accessory that can take plenty of Halloween costumes to the next level. Just wearing a mask and calling it a costume, however, isn't enough these days. Sure, this might've constituted a costume when you were at that age of being almost too old for trick-or-treating but still wanting to put in the bare minimum. But as an adult, a mere mask just makes you look like you forgot to prepare for the holiday.

Just animal ears

girl wearing cat ears

Along those same lines, wearing animal ears and putting no further effort into your costume is an insult to actual animal-inspired get-ups. Cat ears do not make you a cat—they just make you someone lacking imagination. You can basically wear animal ears all year round without getting any side eye, and that's proof enough that this sole accessory does not a Halloween costume make. Oh, and don't try to play some mouse ears off as a Mean Girls costume, either—we're onto you!

Anything racially appropriative

A family dressed inappropriately as Native Americans

Here's some straightforward advice: If your costume involves dressing up as a race that isn't your own, just don't do it. It seems simple enough, and yet people still seem to miss the mark every year. Remember, racial identity is not a costume for people of color, so it shouldn't be for you, either.

Cultural stereotypes

White woman inappropriately dressed up as a geisha

OK, so you're not dressing up as someone of another race—that means you're in the clear, right? Not quite. Culturally appropriative costumes are also damaging, and given how many options you have, there's no reason to go there. Dressing as a geisha, a Romani person, or a mariachi singer is not a wise decision. It might seem like it's all in good fun, but these costumes are all reflective of very real cultures that get diminished when you play dress up.

Ironic minimalism

Bad Halloween costume of a ghost made out of a sheet

It's October 30th and you need a costume fast. Unfortunately, though, taking a Sharpie and writing "THIS IS A HALLOWEEN COSTUME" on a white T-shirt just isn't going to cut it.

That's not to say there aren't plenty of fun, inexpensive, last-minute costumes you can put together yourself. But the ironic, self-referential, not-a-costume idea has been done to death, and at this point, it's obvious you weren't just out of time—you were out of ideas, too.

Anything unnecessarily sexy

sexy mr rogers costume, halloween costumes 2019

Listen, if you want to wear something provocative for Halloween, go ahead and get down with your bad self. There's no judgment here! But if you're taking a normal costume and forcing sexiness on it, you might want to go back to the drawing board. Sexy Big Bird, Sexy Ronald McDonald, Sexy Mr. Rogers? No, no, and no. These are sure to make people cringe.

Politician masks

president mask

If you're not robbing and bank—and we hope you're not—leave the politician mask at home. Sure, it made sense for the criminals in Point Break to wear these things, but for everyone else, it just feels tired.

Besides, in a culture as saturated with politics as ours is, do you really want to force people to think about former (or current) presidents during Halloween? Not to mention the fact that those latex masks get very uncomfortable and hot after an hour.

Recently dead celebrities

Man dressed up as Michael Jackson for Halloween

Though it might seem edgy to you, dressing up as a celebrity who only recently passed away is just tacky. Sometimes the effort to be timely crosses over into the realm of "too soon." (And no, dressing up like the zombie version of a recently dead celebrity doesn't make it any better.)

Anything that body shames

boy wears sumo wrestler inflatable fat suit halloween costume while sitting on bench

If the joke of your costume is that fat people are funny, you can and should do better. People with bodies that are different than yours deal with enough on a day-to-day basis without having to see a costume that makes them the butt of the joke.

There are plenty of forms of body shaming, but fat suits are the most common when it comes to Halloween costumes. That means it's not only hurtful—it's also unoriginal. (Besides, think how much you'll sweat under there!)


Emoji costume

Sorry to these costumes, but the "sorry to this man" idea is already played out. The problem with meme costumes is that memes have a very short shelf life, which means that whatever seems clever now is going to feel hopelessly dated by November.

Besides, if it's recognizable, that means it's a meme that people have already seen over and over again on their Twitter timelines. Memes are overdone by definition. You're better than that.

Overly complicated group costumes

halloween group costume

Group costumes can be great, but there's a difference between going as the Flintstones (which is charming and simple) and going as every era of Taylor Swift (which is a logistical nightmare). Trying to coordinate everyone for a group pic will absolutely derail your night.

True crime victims

zombie costume with bat

As you get older, Halloween often segues from scary to sexy, but there are still plenty of grown-ups who want their costume to be a big, bloody mess. And that can be great! Apply all the gory wounds your zombie heart desires. When you start to move into the territory of cosplaying as an actual victim, however, you're bound to leave a bad taste in people's mouths. It's simple: Steer clear of real people when you're bringing violence into your costume.

Just body paint

body paint

Body paint will not keep you warm—and unless you live in the South or on certain parts of the West Coast, you're going to want to wear some actual clothes to celebrate Halloween.

Besides, body paint, no matter how well applied, is not going to leave much to the imagination. You can get more creative—we know it!

Anything that encourages harassment

Doctor in lab coat

Costumes that encourage other people to let you touch them inappropriately are not cute or charming—they just make people want to stay far away. Identifying yourself as a "boob inspector" at a Halloween party is an absolute no-no.


Punny Halloween costume
Nicholas Neufeld / Alamy Stock Photo

Remember the first time you saw someone dressed as a "Freudian slip"? Yeah, you had a good chuckle, but now every time you see this costume, all you can do is groan. The problem with pun costumes is that they're either too obvious—in which case, you can bet everyone has seen it dozens of times—or they're way too complicated. If it's the latter, you're going to spend the entire night explaining the joke to people. And if you have to explain the joke, no one's going to be laughing.

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