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The 13 Stages of Picking Out the Perfect Halloween Costume

October 31 is rapidly approaching. Before we know it, thousands of girls will be using eyeliner to draw cat whiskers across their faces and college students everywhere will be hitting the town for a night of freaky and flirty festivities. That crucial moment has arrived—the moment when you must decide what you’re going to be for Halloween! And this year, it has to be ~perfect~.

Like any major decision, picking out your Halloween costume comes with lots of different emotions. Those of us who have been through this before know the process goes a little something like this.

1. Closet Browsing

You could easily turn that polka-dot dress into a Minnie Mouse costume, but that was so last year. And while your red dress totally slays, the devil look is overdone! Ugh, time to go shopping.

2. Planning

Before you hit the nearest costume shop, some serious brainstorming must be done. You don’t want to freeze on your way to parties, but you want to look amazing in case you happen to meet your soulmate or something. But you also need a costume that won’t be too uncomfortable, so you can show off your dance moves when the time comes. You weigh your options and now you totally have a game plan. Sexy (but tasteful!) pumpkin, here you come!

3. The Thrill of the Chase

It’s finally time to go shopping! You’ve gathered up a group of your besties whose opinions you trust dearly, and you enter the store with your goal in mind. But everything goes awry when the abundance of options before you suddenly puts your inner desire to shop ’til you freaking drop into overdrive. Say goodbye to sexy-but-tasteful pumpkin and say hello to EVERY OPTION EVER. Let the costume parade begin.

4. Dressing Room Overload

You and your friends have rounded up a solid amount of costume options and your wrists are starting to lose circulation from the hangers digging into your skin. It’s time to head to the dressing room. After you shamefully admit to the saleswoman the number of costumes on your arm, you finally get to try them on. This may take a while.

5. Impromptu Fashion Show

Did you really go shopping with your friends if you didn’t parade around outside the dressing rooms in the many fabulous outfits you picked out? It just wouldn’t be the same! Cue the music because here comes your inner Regina.

6. Trying On the “My Parents Would Disown Me” Costume

As you begin to slip into the various costumes you pulled from the racks, you realize that some work better than others…particularly the ones that don’t reveal 90 percent of your skin. These tend to be the “slutty (insert occupation here)” costumes. Who can even wear this without multiple body parts slipping out? You’d like to leave at least something to the imagination! If you have to question whether you’re able to wear undergarments with your costume, it’s probably safe to pass.

7. Trying On the “I Look Like a Nun, But at Least I’ll Be Warm” Costume

On the other end of the costume spectrum are the ones that leave just about everything to the imagination. I’m talking about you, Miss Downton Abbey costume.

8.  Trying On Multiple “Meh” Costumes

The rest of the costumes you try on tend to be somewhere in between. There’s the classic witch ensemble, the zombie cheerleader and the overdone witch, angel and hippie costumes. Before you know it, they all start to blend together, and you’re ready to be rid of the entire costume-shopping experience. The oh-so-unoriginal cat costume even crosses your tired mind as a good idea at this point.

9. Finding the Perfect Costume!*

You’ve stepped into and out of so many costumes at this point that trying on just one more is almost painful. But as you pull (likely shimmery and nearly see-through) fabric over your head for one last time, you’ve finally found it: The perfect costume! You look amazing, you won’t freeze and it’s totally original.

10. Price Tag Regret

There’s just one problem. What college student can afford to spend 70 dollars on one little Halloween costume? Do you know how many burritos I could afford with that kind of money? Back to the rack it goes…

11. Process of Elimination

Now that you found out your perfect costume is unattainably expensive, it’s time to go back to brainstorming. This calls for a reconsideration of your dressing room contents and some serious down-to-business shopping questions from your girlfriends.

12. Success at Last

After reevaluation with your friends, you finally decide on an affordable costume that is the perfect combination of sexy and cute. You’re already coming up with clever Instagram captions in your head for the all the adorable pictures that will be taken in your fabulous Halloween future.

13. Party Time!

You did it! You made it through yet another year of stressfully picking out the perfect Halloween costume. Wait, what did you say? There’s a whole Halloweekend? You need more than one costume?! Oh well, there’s always Karen’s go-to.

Happy costume hunting!

Meredith is a senior completing a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Communication Arts and Gender & Women's Studies with a certificate in Digital Studies. She moonlights as a freelance portrait photographer, and you can find her work at meredithmariephotography.com.
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