With Halloween coming up in just a few days, chances are you’re going to dress up in something crazy, scary, or ridiculous and then go to work. It’s the one day of the year you can go a little wild around your colleagues (okay, the second day of the year if you count your office holiday party) without anyone taking you too seriously. Hopefully, others at your place of work will dress up, as well, so you don’t look like the lone candy corn in a pile of wet autumn leaves.

If you’re dressing up for Halloween at work, or even if you’re just going to an after hours party that a lot of your co-workers (and maybe even your boss) will be attending, then you might want to reel in your inner teenager just a bit. We’re not saying you can’t have fun just don’t do anything that makes you look like an irresponsible goon. So if you like where you work, and would like to stay employed there for years to come without everyone whispering “He’s the one who came to work dressed as a vasectomy last Halloween” (just use your imagination), then you might want to consider these helpful workplace costume tips.

On the Don’t Side…

  1. Don’t dress up as your boss
  2. Trust me, no matter how much of a character you and everyone else in the office thinks your boss is, he or she sees themselves differently (almost always less colorful). Oh sure, you may think your boss is a good sport, but don’t put that to the test when you come in dressed as your boss as a character from La Cage Aux Folles because “everybody knows he’s gay, right?”

  3. Don’t wear something overly sexy or hard to walk in
  4. Unless you want to be labeled the office slut (male or female) don’t dress in an overly provocative costume. Even if you’re comfortable showing some skin, it makes everyone else in the office extremely uncomfortable (even on Halloween). Similarly, don’t don footwear that’s so hard to walk in you couldn’t get out of the building quickly even if it was on fire. This means no mile-high spiky heels or Frankenstein boots that make you 10 feet tall. If you can’t do the Michael Jackson Thriller dance in your shoes then wear some different ones.

  5. Don’t wear a costume that resembles your personality
  6. Why? Because then it’s just too easy for the office smart-mouth to make you the butt of his jokes. If you’re known for being the office taskmaster and you come as a witch, the gags just write themselves. Show everyone up instead by coming as Glinda the Good Witch of the North (from the Wizard of Oz). Always go against type (it’s funnier, and makes for a better ice breaker at parties).

  7. Avoid political statements
  8. You may be a diehard liberal who hasn’t missed an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in years, but your boss may be a Fox News conservative. So don’t put your foot in your mouth by showing up as a Christine O’Donnell Witch or a Glenn Beck troll. Similarly, avoid the Obama masks with the big ears or the Nancy Pelosi-plastic-surgery-gone-bad-masks. Halloween is a bipartisan holiday and you want to keep it that way.

On the Do Side…

  1. Do pick a costume that’s clever and not complicated
  2. For example, clever: sunglasses and a hardhat make you a Chilean miner. Complicated: A zombie with make-up so messy you leave a trail of fake blood and body parts everywhere makes you annoying (and not all that scary, really).

  3. Do wear loose-fitting clothing without a lot of extra props
  4. This pretty much eliminates the Lady Gaga meat suit or anything like it. Remember, you’re at work so you want to be comfortable and maintain at least a minimum amount of professionalism. (I mean, gosh, what if clients drop by?) Plus, you don’t want to have to keep track of a bunch of junk like swords, pirate hooks, broomsticks, cooking utensils, or magic wands that you’ll just end up losing anyway.

  5. Do use clothing you already own to create a costume
  6. Go ahead and enhance that old bridesmaid dress (to be a fairy princess) or your tux (to be an undertaker or a scary waiter). If you use your own clothing you’re ensured of a proper fit, which means you’ll be much more comfortable. Plus, you’ll save money by not having to buy some cheap costume that you’ll probably only wear once.

    And finally, if you don’t want to dress up that’s fine, too. But just so no one accuses you of being the Halloween equivalent of Scrooge, bring a bowl of candy to work and set it up outside your office. This shows you’re still in the spirit, but that you draw the line at turning yourself into the undead. Everyone will forgive you if you come loaded with a bunch of fun size Snickers as a peace offering.

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