Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: The Halloween Edition

Hi Belle,

With Halloween a few weeks away, I wanted to get your opinion on some non-slutty costume ideas.  I usually go out in Dupont, U St, etc areas with a group of friends (girls and guys), and we’re looking for something that will be cute and fun but is not your run-of-the-mill “sexy [enter anything here]”.  Do you have any ideas that fall somewhere in the spectrum between “naughty schoolgirl” and “bunch of grapes”.  I think my friends would be open to a group or theme costume as well.

Many thanks!  Ashley

If you Google “Halloween Costumes for Women,” you discover that costume choices for women are very limited.  You can be a sexy pirate wench, or Kate Gosselin.  Naughty Nurse, or Kate Gosselin.  Sultry Sailor, or Kate Gosselin.  What a wealth of options.

So what does a woman do if she doesn’t want to dress provocatively, doesn’t want to be a pretty-pretty princess and doesn’t want to, as you put it, dress as a bunch of grapes?

Books are a great place to find interesting costume ideas.  Characters from The Hunger Games, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Help and other works of popular fiction are a great source for costume ideas. Even beloved children’s books can yield ideas. 

Movies, plays and television are also great place to find ideas.  Last year, I saw lots of women dressed in ensembles from “Mad Men.”  A few years ago, it was “Grey’s Anatomy.” 

Why not go as the stewardesses from Pan Am?  Or maybe the cast of Book of Mormon?

Other fun, grown up costumes that I’ve seen include: flappers, Zombie House Pages, the characters from Clueless, and circus sideshows (bearded lady, etc.). There are also some great makeup tips from M.A.C. floating around.  I especially love the woman dressed as a Roy Lichtenstein painting.

I’m not a big fan of Halloween, mostly because loud bars, packed with costumed people frighten me.  But hopefully, other readers will have some suggestions for costumes.

Also, next week will be Ask Belle week on the blog.  So if you have a question for Belle, e-mail it to capitolhillstyle (at) gmail (dot) com



  1. Kelsye says:

    I am going as cruella deville. I am using a black dress I already have. I just bought red gloves, the wig, and a white pashmina(which will be spray painted with black spots).

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  2. Mo says:

    I've been looking for a good (read: not slutty) Pan Am stewardess costume for a while and finally found this very helpful set on Polyvore. The bonus is the pieces look like they could be used again in real life:

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  3. C says:

    The October InStyle had good tips on how to dress as Kim Kardashian or make a pink fascinator like Princess Beatrice's.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  4. RachelRemarks says:

    One year, a large group of female friends and I did a “Miss America Pageant” themed group costume. However, instead of wearing gowns, we wore stereotypical clothing from the various states. For example, our Miss Nebraska went head to toe in Husker gear. I was miss Hawaii and wore a tank top and grass skirt. Some of our guy friends went as judges, announcer, etc., and every hour they crowned a new “Miss America” with a plastic tiara and huge bouquet of fake red roses. We also made matching sashes like they wear in the real show. It was fun, easy, and comfortable! And you can go as modest or immodest as you want.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  5. Valerie says:

    Go as the Royal Wedding party! This could also include the guests and the priest that married them.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  6. VA says:

    Royal wedding would be fun – think of the hats! Another blogger did a “Homemade Halloween” round-up of costumes that you can make from pieces that you probably already have in your closet:

    Not Marie Antoinette, obvs, but keep scrolling. Bonus: none of them are slutty!

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  7. Jes says:

    I'm busting out my House Page uniform & tie for halloween to be a zombie page! It's only fitting since the program is dead!

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  8. r says:

    Jes, your costume idea is awesome. AWESOME.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  9. Belle says:

    r-Technically, the idea was that of an intern of mine from 07, who was also a page. Just don't forget your Blumenauer bike pins, no page ensemble is complete without one.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  10. Elle says:

    Price is Right contestant…normal clothes with a yellow name tag.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  11. lindsay says:

    My friends and I went as players from A League of Their Own one year. It was really, really fun. We took plain baseball tees and put the design on the front, then wore black skirts. Baseball uniform-y but without going way too into planning.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  12. KC says:

    My friends and I went as a soccer team and coach one year: tall socks, black shorts, and matching number t-shirts. “Coach” wore a polo, jeans, a whistle and a visor.

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  13. liz says:

    I am a huge fan of group costumes – in the past my friends and I have done Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz (this year is Peter Pan). You can usually put pieces together from your own closet (with some help from Goodwill/Value Village and Party City). I've gone as the Mad Hatter and the Wicked Witch of the West and I created both costumes out of things I already had. Other good ones are the Giving Tree (brown leggings and shirt, body paint, fake leaves and apples bought from craft store), recognizable characters from classic literature (like Hester Prynne – all you need is a black dress and a red A) or history (Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth Bathory if you want to be gory).

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  14. pnm says:

    A group of my friends and I are going as Muppets characters – I'm going to be Beaker! Pretty easy, not slutty at all, and best part, it's warm!

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  15. L says:

    Martha Stewart has some great costume ideas…..most are for kids but could be adapted for adults and most are DIY with a “How To”

    October 13, 2011/Reply
  16. hopemybossdosentsee says:

    were doing DC metro stops this year, metro signs on our headbands and maps on our back and dressing like someone you would typically see at a stop. i.e. smithsonian is a tourist, columbia heights is a hipster, my gay bff agreed to be dupont circle. may be a taad on the offensive side but were going to have a lot of fun

    October 14, 2011/Reply
  17. Rory says:

    Some friends and I are going as the cast from Futurama…and I get to be Dr. Zoidberg.

    October 14, 2011/Reply
  18. Amanda says:

    You could be Rosie the Riveter, simple and retro. Or you can be a “formal invitation” wear a formal dress and attach a invitation to your self.

    October 14, 2011/Reply
  19. KH says:

    I discovered a great costume too that can be done w/ stuff you likely already have… a 'biker girl' outfit.. You can make this more flashy by wearing a mini skirt.. or can wear black leggings w/ black boots. Pick up some chains, cut some fingers out of your gloves, and use your leather bomber jack/leather jacket. Also – teased hair and some fun makeup would help too.

    October 14, 2011/Reply
  20. Mags says:

    @Amanda Hello Hairpin! Please tell me that is where you got that idea. FYI for those of you who don't know, there is a HUGE thread on The Hairpin about halloween costume ideas. Check it out:

    October 18, 2011/Reply
  21. LiLoLah says:

    My friends and I are going as the Clue characters this year… I will be wearing scarlet and carrying a candlestick. ­čÖé

    October 19, 2011/Reply