There are few times of year when I look forward to my daily commute more than I do around Halloween. There's just something about watching Marge Simpson check her BlackBerry on the subway or seeing a full-grown man walk into a downtown office building in a banana suit that is seriously entertaining.
But, in the course of my people-watching over the next few days, I also know there will be times when I feel seriously uncomfortable; Feelings brought on by getups that will make me wonder "Where does this lady work that she doesn't have to wear pants?" or think "Yikes. That is one brave man, right there."
Because inevitably, when people are given the option to ditch business casual for a day and dress instead as whatever they want, there will be some who take it a little too far.
Halloween is fun, and if you have an office that is cool enough to celebrate it, then by all means, dress up! Just remember the golden rule of office revelry: "There is a time and a place for everything."
Here, guidelines to help you figure out what's work appropriate, and what you should save for the weekend. (Because after high school, it's not cool to be the girl who gets sent home to put more clothes on.)
1. Be a nurse, not a sexy nurse.
It seems that the manufacturers of Halloween costumes for adult women follow the same predictable formula year after year: Take an occupation, animal or Disney princess and slap the word "sexy" in front of it ... Ta da! But, even though it may require a little more effort to find a costume that's not based on a foundation of underwear and fishnets, if you plan on dressing up for work, plan on putting in the extra time to find something full-coverage.
2. Avoid controversy.
If there's a question in your mind that your costume might offend your co-workers or spark an argument, go a different route. Your friends might get a kick out of your Casey Anthony costume, but do you really want to listen to your co-workers argue about whether or not she's guilty all day? Didn't think so.
Some other popular-yet-controversial costumes for 2011 that will probably cause more of a headache than they're worth at work? A Wall Street protestor, Osama Bin Laden, Amanda Knox, and any member of the crowded cohort that includes Anthony Weiner and Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
3. Don't be a nuisance.
If your office fully-embraces Halloween, chances are it won't be the most productive day of the year. Still, there will probably be some work that needs to get done, so make sure your costume isn't too distracting. If your getup has pieces that make noise, light up, blow bubbles, play music, etc., it's best to leave these components home.
4. Keep your work environment in mind.
If your office is small, casual and creative, you may be able to get away with more than if you work in a corporate environment or one where you're required to interact with clients and customers all day. If you're not sure what's appropriate, ask co-workers what they plan on dressing up as, or what people were in years' past.
Bottom line? Have fun, but use good judgment. If you have an inkling that your sexy, politically incorrect costume is not office appropriate, save it for the weekend, and choose something more neutral for 9-to-5. It can be your excuse to buy two costumes!
What other guidelines do you have for office costumes? Have you ever seen anyone go too far? Let us know in the comments section.
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