From princesses to Risky Business: How to avoid overdone costumes this Halloween

We can all agree that the pigtailed cowgirl or the smudge-faced Joker costume is all a bit overplayed on Halloween. Are they classic? Of course. But creative? No.

Each year, planning for Halloween is like preparing for a middle school dance. There’s the overly-enthusiastic people who spend months drafting ideas, buying props, and purchasing outfits until the picture in their head becomes a reality. Then there’s the not-so-thrilled ones, who dread Halloween and leave their look for the last minute. I’m the latter.

Still, both groups are guilty of making one simple mistake: reproducing the same characters and costumes, only to find five or six more of the same costume at every Halloween party. While it can seem nearly impossible to think of an original and unique Halloween costume idea, it’s actually very doable.

Here’s how to avoid overdone costumes this Halloween.

The key is to abstain from “eleventh hour” looks - princesses, Grease-themed outfits, and even the classic Tom Cruise in Risky Business costume. It’s time to retire these iconic characters, even though they often require minimal thought, and consider something unique instead.

There’s always the internal dilemma of not wanting your costume to be too obscure, or else no one will know who you are. Nobody wants to receive uncomfortable blank stares and pity nods when asked about their Halloween costume. For example, I was Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for Halloween last year. But because I wasn’t packing a blow-up suit underneath my blue track set, not one person guessed who I was, even though I had a blue nose and chewing gum.

Depending on how much you care about people recognising your Halloween costume, there are few things to keep in mind so that you appear original on the spooky holiday.

Avoiding unnecessary consumption is beneficial to both your wallet and your costume. If you begin by looking for ideas while shopping, you run the risk of purchasing pieces and props that you’ll never wear again. Steer clear of all Halloween-themed stores until you have an idea, and don’t go looking for inspiration in stores that organise their inventory based on typical Halloween characters.

Run through your wardrobe. You don’t have to own eccentric clothing or accessories to use something already in your closet. An old blazer, a button-up shirt, and a pair of suspenders are all perfect for a Peaky Blinders-inspired look. Meanwhile, a flowing white dress and cream-coloured headband is the foundation for Florence Pugh’s finale outfit in Midsommar.

If there’s absolutely nothing from your personal collection that could work as a Halloween costume, I suggest digging through your local thrift store to find one-of-a-kind items you wouldn’t find on the rack of every other retailer.

Plus, you can always add something extra to a character or costume idea to make it more personalised. If you have a favourite film and found an item that can easily become a costume, try to incorporate elements of the movie or character into your costume so that it connects to the overarching theme without being so basic.

For example, take the Barbie movie. Director Greta Gerwig’s live-action film prompted a pink fad for the summer, so it’s likely you’ll be spotting many people dressed as the Mattel doll for Halloween this year. While it’s more than fine to be dressed as everyone’s current obsession, try embodying a different version of Barbie - Weird Barbie, President Barbie, or Mermaid Barbie.

This way, you can fuse easily recognisable elements of the iconic doll, like her blonde tresses or cursive “Barbie” branding, while still wearing something other than a white tank top and hot pink mini skirt.

It’s okay to think outside of the box and show up in a costume that’s not automatically recognised by Halloween partygoers. It can even be a great conversation starter and you’ll feel more triumphant when someone does recognise your Halloween costume.

Remeber, if model and Halloween superstar Heidi Klum can manage to shock each year with an unexpected and original look, then so can you.