Irreverent, masked costume ideas for all gender expressions

By Padideh Aghanoury

Oct 22, 2021 | Editorials | 0 comments

//Illustration by Padideh Aghanoury | padideh28@gmail.com

Though people have been acting like the pandemic is over, it’s not. The Delta variant has been ripping through communities and as the weather gets colder, our immune systems could be in better shape. Even with the vaccine, the idea of people packing bars, venues and house parties in droves—large crowds of people inches away from total strangers, spitting and mouth-breathing willy-nilly—is anxiety-inducing.

I’m not saying miss out on Halloween, the greatest holiday of all. By taking small precautions like choosing more spaced-out events that allow for social distancing and making sure you test negative before attending any events, you can help keep yourself and others safe and healthy this Halloween. Most importantly, wearing a face mask in enclosed spaces is crucial.

“But Padideh! I don’t want to ruin my costume with a medical mask!” you may cry out. “A mask! On Halloween?” you lament. Though the pandemic has thwarted your “Kenneth Parcell in his gender-neutralizing hood at the abstinence rally” costume for the second Halloween in a row, there are other options that might work just as well. Here are a number of goofy, scary, femme, masc. and gender-neutral costume ideas that can fit anyone’s budget. 


1. Girlboss Executioner 

Everything men can do, women can do in heels, including carrying out beheadings against moral transgressors within your small hamlet. Nothing says “girl boss” like capital punishment metered out in heels! For this costume, all you need are some workplace bottoms and shoes, a starched tunic and a cozy executioner’s hood, ideally made of burlap. 

2. Medieval character who loves to read

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Really, with a cloak and a face covering, you can be pretty much be anything medieval. An assassin, a druid, a knight — even a person protecting themselves from a plague, but like, you know, medieval. Just add an aging Claymore or pike, preferably one with your family’s coat of arms, and you’re good to go. The book isn’t required unless you’re dressing like some dastardly lord or some other nobleman who could afford a tutor, in which case you’ll probably have to bust out your finest silks and rare jewels. 

3. California transplant grey wolf 

Thanks to a ballot initiative that passed in 2020, wildlife biologists have been working to reintroduce gray wolves back to Colorado. The last wild gray wolf spotted in Colorado was shot by a farmer in 1945, so obviously, these gray wolves are transplants from somewhere — and since Coloradans tend to enjoy griping about humans from California crowding their state, why not dress up like a gray wolf who just moved from California? Basically, just wear a wolf mask and tech bro hoodie, some casual slacks and sneakers, and you’ll look like just another gray wolf gentrifying the Rockies. 

4. This terrifying pumpkin spice nightmare 

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For this costume, all you’ll need is an orange hoodie, black and white face paint, a white fabric face mask, a black fabric marker, a steady hand and a vacant, dead-eyed stare. But if you’d like to take it up a notch, we suggest as many pumpkin-spice accessories as you can find. Start with bracelets (duh), socks (obviously), a watch (sure, why not?). Then indulge with some PS pringles, KFC and Twinkies. Finish off with this fall-flavored toothpaste. We would have also suggested you use Native’s all-natural pumpkin-spice scented deodorant but it seems the internet has already shamed them enough to take it off their website

5. Hair mask chicks from “booksmart”

Need a costume for you and your bestie? Want to aggressively compliment each other all night while safely hiding your breathing holes behind curtains of hair? Be the broads from “Book Smart!” If your hair isn’t long enough, a wig will do. Represent nerd gender inclusivity while having an excuse to wear beautiful blue jumpsuits.  

6. Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road

You can either buy a face mask with the 2-D version of the mask printed on it or read this super detailed guide on how to make your own. Pair with grizzled blonde hair and you’re ready to bring on the pain, baby!

7. Pale oral surgery recipient 

//Creative Common License.

Or, I guess, a mummy. For this one you’ll need any kind of medical mask, mummy gauze, glue or a needle and thread and if you want to add some coloring or detail, fabric paint and paintbrushes. You could use some coffee or black tea and soak the gauze to give them more of an aged look, just in case you were worried anyone thought your mummy wrappings looked a little too fresh to believe that you’ve just emerged from your millennia-spanning slumber. Alternatively, you can use red dye and tell people you’ve just returned from the dentist.

Costumes you shouldn’t dress as:

Just a reminder that while Halloween is a fun, silly and spooky time to suspend reality and embrace the fantastical by donning clothes, wigs and make-up you normally may not wear in any other context, it isn’t a time to trivialize other cultures’ customs. If you aren’t Middle-Eastern, don’t dress like a belly dancer; don’t wear sugar skull make-up if you aren’t Latin American; and for the love of god, please don’t dress like a geisha, ninja or witch doctor. Don’t wear a bindi or a Native American headdress, a sombrero, box braids and, I can’t believe I have to write this out, do not do black or brown face. Just dress up like a goblin or a demon like a normal person.


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