Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

Curse those sexy costumes, or, the post in which we time travel back to this time last year

Here’s a piece I had published in 2009, to celebrate and bemoan the idea of Halloween costumery. What are you dressing up as this year? Will it be sexy? Will it be frightening? For my part, I’m considering going as …

Mon, Oct 18, 2010, 12:24


Here’s a piece I had published in 2009, to celebrate and bemoan the idea of Halloween costumery. What are you dressing up as this year? Will it be sexy? Will it be frightening? For my part, I’m considering going as the reporter (how apt!) from Damien: The Omen II, with a stuffed bird hanging from my head and bleeding eyes. Sexy, wha?!

‘ALL GIRLS want to dress sexy, don’t they? So Halloween is the one night of the year you can dress as sexy as you want, and you can go, ‘come on, it’s Halloween’ so people don’t think you’re a total slut.” My friend, who doesn’t want to be named, is but one of the host of women who will exit their homes this Saturday night wearing very little clothing, despite near-Baltic weather conditions, in the name of Halloween.

There’s a scene in Mean Girls in which the character Cady goes to a Halloween party thrown by girls at her school. New to the western world, having been home-schooled in Africa (a genius narrative twist, it has to be said), Cady arrives at the party as a vampire bride, resplendent in torn wedding dress, blood-soaked hair and face, and fanged teeth. Her misfire is immediately apparent; in a sea of Playboy bunnies, sexy mice and sexy cats, she stands out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Cady’s is the ultimate conundrum. While it’s obviously not ideal to be the scary, ugly girl at the party, why should you have to bow to a convention so ill-conceived it astounds even the least sensible of us?

Halloween is, traditionally, the night when the dead become undead, the supernatural becomes natural, and ghouls, goblins, vampires and zombies come out to play. How does the Playboy bunny fit in?

“Well, it’s fun!” My friend will not be swayed by my vehement objections. “You just want to look good – and you can go as, say, a Vegas showgirl, in hotpants and feathers, and everyone will just think you look great.” I am astounded by what she thinks is logic.

The fact is, fashion (although not, crucially, style) dictates we all have the freedom to go out on any night of the year in as little clothing as we like. Skintight spandex dresses, thanks to Herve Leger, are the order of the day, and the shorter the better. Women dress as Playboy bunnies all the time, without using Halloween as an excuse.

Surely this one night of the year might be better spent attempting to be clever and creative, rather than squeezing yourself into a black bodysuit and pinning bunny ears on top of your head. (Although, sadly, thanks to Louis Vuitton, said ears are no longer confined to costumery and are in fact accepted as everyday dress.)

Of course, the saddest thing for women is, men don’t seem to feel this pressure to “look sexy”. What are my male friends dressing up as? Most of them are not, although one is going as a pirate (yes, ladies, not a “sexy pirate”, just a pirate, eye patch and all), another as a Turkish warlord (don’t ask) and another as a jaundiced Vietnam veteran (no, I don’t know either). Nary a sequin to be seen, and not a whole lot of spending involved either.

I suspect the fancy aspect of Halloween costumery has come in tandem with the commercialisation of “the holiday”, as our American friends call it. Halloween is now “merchandised” from late September just as how, on November 1st, we can expect the Christmas lights to begin their lava-like spread throughout the country.

Along with the conspicuous spending that now accompanies what used to be the simplest of festivities come the armies of sexy brigadiers, sexy nuns and sexy nurses. Not to mention that old stalwart, the school uniform. (Those of us whose uniform consisted of trousers are now forced, in our 20s, to attempt to purchase a plaid, pleated skirt. “No, I’m not repeating my Leaving. Honestly.”)

As Halloween itself has got shinier, so too have the adult costumes, and the opportunities to wear them have multiplied. Birthdays, engagement parties, launch events and children’s birthday parties all call for gaudy fancy dress. And the children’s parties themselves are now awash with expensive branded costumes. “What do you mean, is she a princess? She’s obviously Princess Malibu Barbie!”

Gone are the days of black refuse sacks, witch hats and home-made treats at neighbours’ doors. (As an aside, the phrase “trick or treat” should never be used as a chat-up line. You may be wearing bunny ears and very little else, but surely you’re not that tacky.)

However, here are some words of advice. Check party invitations carefully. Spiders and creepy-crawlies? You’re probably safe to turn up in your handmade rotting corpse costume. Bunny ears and cocktail glasses? Stay at home, unless you truly feel the need to take advantage of the one night of the year you can dress sexy, and not be judged.

Then again, you could obey the two cardinal rules of Halloween – and life in general: first, the sexy rating score does not correlate directly with the amount of skin on show; and second, there’s nothing sexier than a shrieking zombie bride.

That’s scary! The worst “sexy” Halloween costumes 


There is very little that is sexy about a nun, so dressing up as a sexy nun is akin to dressing your poodle up as a ferocious guard dog. If you must have “sexy” in your costume description, why not try Buffy, the Vampire Slayer? She was, by all accounts, sexy, and you can make some concession to the season.


For those of you who don’t know, Croft of Tomb Raider fame was played, in the movie by Angelina Jolie. Nobody is ever going to outsexy Angelina; you won’t come anywhere near. Instead, you’ll look like a slightly deranged military commando and your ponytail will give you a headache within 10 minutes.


There is little that is less sexy than this brazen nod to prescriptive sexuality. Bunny ears? Check. Bunny tail? Check. Swimming togs bodysuit? Check. Why not just go to the pool and rub tanning oil on yourself? You might look a bit mad, especially in October, but at least you won’t look like you’re going out with Hugh Hefner.