Should You Dress Up For Halloween At Work?

If you show up in a clown suit, will the last laugh be on you?

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2012 - Day 3
Getty Images
For children, Halloween is a fun time to be imaginative and become anyone you want to be. Adults have co-opted this holiday for their own purposes, and some even bring their fantasy selves to work in the form of a dress-up day. Is it a good idea to dress up at work for Halloween or a big mistake? The answer is "it depends." It depends on where you work and what you plan to wear.

Workplaces Where Dressing Up Is Part of the Job

In some workplaces, dressing up is expected and considered part of the organization's culture. For example, if you're a teacher, and everyone dresses up as part of a "book character dress-up day" around Halloween, you wouldn't want to be the one teacher who doesn't play along. That will make you look uncreative at best and lazy at worst.

On the other hand, if you choose inappropriately provocative attire or otherwise misfire with your costume, you'll be in even worse hot water. Fishnet stockings are not the best choices for a school teacher, even if your goal is to look like Fantine from Les Miserables. You may also want to think twice about donning the persona of a political figure, even an historical one. In other words, coming in as Hitler or Syrian President al-Assad isn't likely to win favor.

Another group that may be expected to go all out for Halloween is wait staffs in casual restaurants. In that case, depending on your clientele, it's possible you can actually embrace your sexy alter-ego and not risk your job. However, keep in mind, if you win "sexiest costume of the night," expect that image to be a part of your workplace persona long after Oct. 31 passes.

Another factor to consider: will your costume elicit controversy and conversation you're not prepared to manage? If you dress up as "Obamacare" or Speaker Boehner, don't be surprised if people on the opposite end of the political spectrum have some choice comments. Just as it's not generally a great idea to discuss politics at work, similarly, it's not a great idea to wear your politics to work, even on Halloween.

When Dressing Up Is Unlikely to Win You Friends

Do you really want your insurance broker or attorney handing you important papers to sign while dressed as Gumby or Big Bird? The same rules go for most client-facing roles where the business at hand is serious, and the attire needs to match. Even if Halloween is your favorite day of the year, do not call your judgment into question by being the only one who takes it as an opportunity to break out of the traditional dress code to go a little crazy.

Sometimes, the role you play at work will dictate whether or not you should dress up. For example, the call center team members who never see clients may be able to have some fun on Halloween, while the front-facing sales staff need to play it more conservatively.

How to Decide How to Celebrate – Or Not!

If you're new at work, ask your boss or a trusted co-worker if people dress up for Halloween. If you're a sleuth, you can peruse back issues of the company newsletter to see if Halloween is depicted in past communications. If dressing up isn't on the agenda, don't let it put you in a bad mood; it's possible you can celebrate the day in other ways at work by wearing a fun accessory. Just make sure you don't distract your co-workers with a flashing necklace or by carrying around something that moans or you'll attract the kind of attention you don't want.

Want to know a great way to get in the spirit of the holiday in many offices? Bring in a baked good or other sweet treat to offer co-workers. As long as you're not pushy, and recognize some people are dieting, have food allergies or aversions or don't believe in Halloween, you can't lose.

We are showing you how to eat, drink and be scary this Halloween season.
Read more on Halloween on AOL:

15 Frightfully Delicious Halloween Treats
11 Halloween Party Appetizers
How To Look Spooky Without Looking Scary

More from Miriam Salpeter
What HR won't tell you
Signs it's time to quit your job
Valuable employee traits

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:
YaYa YumYum

Doesn't belong in the workplace except in the costume dept.of a store. I leave the restaurant or store if they are dresse for Halloween .Same for Xmas. If they are playing Xmas music before Thanksgiving ,I leave and don't go back until the following year.

October 31 2013 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i may be the only one to give a nod to the holiday in my office... i've worn a halloween themed vest under my suits, or a pretty witch's hat.... i have plenty of business outfits with animal prints, so this year i think i'll wear one of them along with some cat ears...

October 23 2013 at 4:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Kate Allen

Having a Halloween Party ? Make sure you’ve got your Halloween Party music sorted with this album, it has 82 spooky tracks:

October 23 2013 at 7:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I always dress when I go to work. They frown on naked people in the work place.

October 21 2013 at 9:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Kim Schreiber

Do you really want your insurance broker or attorney handing you important papers to sign while dressed as Gumby or Big Bird?

Why not?? They are still the same intelligent professionals, just dressed up for a little fun! I'm sure they wouldn't lose all their integrity over a costume one day a year...

October 21 2013 at 7:02 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

I work for a company where the culture celebrates Halloween. I'm one of those fuddy-duddies that does not find anything faintly amusing about watching an entire day being wasted, and a bunch of adults dressing up in costumes. I don't begrudge others their fun, but there is pressure to dress up. So now I take the day off or work from home. I've never liked Halloween, even as a child. And I don't like spending the money as an adult for "theme" costumes. Anyway, I'm a rarity I am sure. It seems Halloween is more popular than when I was a kid. Hello out there??????? Are there any people who share my lack of enthusiasm for Halloween?

October 21 2013 at 2:50 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to bemystic11's comment
Elroy Jetson

Do what you want, but keep one thing in mind... Don't wear any costume that may need even a fake weapon of any kind; and don't wear a mask, either. Especially if you need to run by the bank or the convenience store...

October 21 2013 at 2:00 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

When Halloween was a childrens' holiday--neighborhood kids coming by to show off their costumes and get a treat--it was fun. When adults began acting like children, it lost all of its charm. The year adult women showed up at our door at 9:00 p.m., we called it quits. We and 95% of our neighbors no longer observe Halloween.

October 21 2013 at 1:40 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sandra's comment

if you look at the history of halloween, it most definitely was not a children's holiday... i think it's great for adults to dress up and party and be silly for one night, but not to go out trick-or-treating! that's also true for older teens... one halloween, three teens who looked like men, and weren't wearing costumes showed up at my door... i said "c'mon guys, the least you could have done was to put tin foil on your teeth and say you were rappers"... i was hajppy to give them candy though - only one other kid had shown up!

October 23 2013 at 4:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


Fishnet stockings are not the best choices for a school teacher.....

Hey, Lady, why don' you SHUT UP? ;-D

Happy Hallowe'en!

October 21 2013 at 11:45 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to zaticon1's comment
Elroy Jetson

I think fishnets would be perfect for a school teacher...if she wants to come by my house on Halloween evening. I'd be more than happy to share my candy! But maybe she should be a little more conservative during class time at school.

The only drawback is, that most of my teachers all through school were at that age they were planning retirement, and couldn't afford to retire. Now all of a sudden, Support hose instead of fishnets come to mind... eeeew!

October 21 2013 at 1:56 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

My store manager is encouraging people to dress up for Halloween, and have fun with it. She posted a paper by the time clock and people could sign up for what kind of character they want to be, and then everyone who works Halloween will be that, such as a vampire, doctor/nurse, etc.

October 21 2013 at 11:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web