It’s Halloween again. Time to channel your inner goddess (or demon). And with Halloween falling on a Monday this year, what better way to broadcast your mad skills at applying cakey makeup and repurposing bell bottoms than to dress up at the office.
Slow down there, Pocahontas. Not every costume is workplace appropriate. In 2008, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority fired a supervisor for not reprimanding an employee who wore a noose to the office as part of a Halloween costume.
One in three adults dress up for Halloween, according to a 2010 survey by the National Retail Federation. Witches, vampires, pirates and nurses are among the most popular alter egos, while wenches/tarts/vixens round out the top five.
Office Halloween parties can build morale and teamwork, serving as a platform to showcase employee creativity. Or they can spawn hurt feelings, uncomfortable silences and alienation over an office mate’s misguided sense of humor.
Here are 10 costumes you should definitely keep away from the office.
1. Sexy ___
Sexual harassment doesn’t take a holiday. Pimps and sexy nurses are best left to frat party domain. Superman doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Cover up.
2. Playing the opposite sex card
While we’re on the subject, this is not the time or place to experiment with gender roles or make exaggerated references to body parts. Note: The Burger King mask is creepy even for men.
3. Playing the race card
Do we really need to go here? Just don’t.
4. Playing the baby card
Diapers don’t look good on anyone over three feet tall. Remember Rob Schneider in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo? That scene will scar you for life.
5. Political maneuvering
Don’t dress up as a politician, political party mascot or hot-button political issue unless you want to become embroiled in spontaneous debates with at least half of your co-workers on the way to the bathroom.
Bill Maher had it right. Only poke fun at religion from the comfortable distance of a comic documentary.
7. Ripped from the headlines
Ten slasher films were named after Halloween, but fake blood and copy paper don’t mix. Impersonating Casey Anthony or a terrorist is in bad taste and could be mistaken for a viable threat. (Special exception granted to investment bankers who want to poke fun at Bernie Madoff.)
8. Hipster irony (i.e., too lazy to assemble a costume)
Sure, you could wear a white T-shirt and proclaim that you’re God (see Religious), morph into the old standby depressed Red Sox fan, or be that guy without the costume (trust us, that stopped being funny circa 1985), but your lackluster efforts will only earn you a party pooper distinction.
9. Pink slip
You might wind up with one if you dress like this.
10. Your boss
Imitation is the highest form of flattery unless it’s your paunchy, plodding boss who is blessed with Bill Gates’ fashion sense. Greasing up to resemble that pointy-haired boss in Dilbert won’t win you any points, either.
Margie Fishman has worked as a professional journalist for a dozen years, contributing to National Geographic, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, Atlanta Business Chronicle, ConsumerSearch.com and many other media outlets.