The most interactive holiday of all is right around the corner, and for those who love to dress up, dress down or just judge, it really is like all your Christmases have come at once. Much like how the Queen had a half birthday so she didn’t get sad mid-way through the year, we have Halloween to tide us over until the next Met Gala.
Of course, Halloween last year was a memorable one, largely because of its oligopoly of costumes: we had a slew of Pam and Tommy’s (even though that costume proves to be pretty morally dubious), a handful of Stranger Things characters, some Elvises and, of course, Heidi Klum as a worm.
This year will bring forth the likely suspects, from the seemingly unkillable Harley Quinn to the low-effort, low-budget Wednesday Addams, but also some 2023 staples. Expect Barbenheimer galore, even more Beyoncé space cowboys and plenty of visual puns about Lost Mary vapes.
For those looking to go a little less predictable, we have the answers. Here are the best pop culture costume ideas for Halloween 2023.
Sydney from The Bear
When you’ve got a supper club at 6pm but a Halloween party at 9pm: this is the multifunctional costume for all those trendy London foodies. All you need is some cheap chef whites (custom Thom Browne not required, thankfully), a jazzy bandana, a prop knife, Birkenstock clogs and a constant cacophony of you shouting “CORNER!” and “BEHIND!”
Birkenstock Tokio Super Grip Clog, £105, birkenstock.com
The easiest costume ever — borrow an oversized shirt and (ideally red) tie from any man you know and just remember to stick to your mates all night in case you end up looking like a lonely canvassing Labour politician or a Sean of the Dead who’s lost his name badge.
M&S machine washable red tie, £10, marksandspencer.com
Tanya from The White Lotus
For this, Ariana Grande’s Jennifer Coolidge impression is mandatory homework. Otherwise, just talk really slowly, get a bit drunk, purse your lips and make sure to wear the biggest sunglasses and most colourful kaftans you can find. It’s not my fault if you get mistaken for Peppa Pig.
Floral kaftan, £24, hm.com
Obscure Barbies only
Cowboy Barbie, Mojo Dojo-era Ken and Rollerskating Barbie will be everywhere this Halloween so to set yourself apart from the crowd, go as a lesser-thought-of Barbie character, like Allan or Midge. For Allan, you’ll need a rainbow-coloured polo shirt, and for Midge, a floral flock, red wig and fake baby bump. Voilà!
Sergio Tacchini rainbow polo shirt, £75, selfridges.com
He’s the eldest boy! If you’re looking to pay homage to Succession this Halloween, Kendall is essentially the only recognisable character to dress as, unless you happen to have short red hair and an ass that won’t quit. Try and dress up as anyone else and you’ll just be… a person in a suit. Thankfully, Little Lord Fuckleroy has some pretty distinctive clothing items, though you’ll need to work to find good enough dupes, because the real things cost a bomb. The best option is looking online for an L to the OG jersey, which they are actually selling on Etsy these days.
L to the OG jersey, £51.19, etsy.com
2000s Posh and Becks
The success of Pam and Tommy last year proves that the Y2K-era couple costume is still thriving, and this is your 2023 update. Hot off the release of David Beckham’s Netflix doc, everyone’s reminiscing about these two in their prime, but now you can become them. The Victoria of this couple may need to undergo a dramatic hair transformation (or, more reasonably, wear a wig) and the Becks might need a few highlights, but otherwise, it’s just sunnies, low-rise jeans and Y2K vest tops all round. Maybe even a little flat cap, while you’re at it. Birkin and bombastically expensive engagement rings are optional.
Bleach London bleaching kit, £8.00, cultbeauty.co.uk
Britney and her knives
Britney recently treated fans to another one of her spirited dancing videos on Instagram, this time with the addition of two kitchen knives, because why the hell not! The memorable video has spawned discourse, memes and now, finally, costume inspo, as it only furthers the recognisability of a core 2020s Britney look. It’d be obvious enough from the blonde hair, thick kohl eyeliner, cropped puff-sleeved shirt and lack of clothes on your bottom half, but the knives really complete this look.
Fake butcher knife, £17.99, amazon.co.uk
Rihanna and A$AP Rocky
These two have a plethora of memorable looks to be chosen from, including A$AP’s Scooby Doo-esque headscarf moment from 2019, his pearl hair clip looks this July, or any Rihanna pregnancy outfit. If you’re feeling lazy, one of you can dress all in black while the other carries a quilt around and just pretend it’s their Met Gala 2021 appearance. Easy.
Patchwork multi-coloured quilt, £165, oliverbonas.co.uk
Penny Mordaunt at the coronation
It’s only really funny if a man does it because a woman runs such a high risk of looking like she’s just cosplaying Carrie Johnson, but this would make a good one if you really commit - sword and all. Cape is also mandatory.
Big prop sword, £16, english-heritageshop.org.uk
Kylie Jenner and her Schiaparelli lion
This will take a little bit of creativity as you’re likely going to have to behead a children’s toy and find a way of attaching it to a sleek black dress, but I believe in you.
Djungelskog lion toy, £20, ikea.com
The preferred snack of trendy East Londoners has become so meme-worthy over the past year it will be a miracle if no one turns up to Halloween as one. Get it in early and make all of your friends regret buying a life-sized olive costume. Ha! (If in need of inspiration, look to Georgia Nicholson in Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, she did it best).
Red beanie (for your little pimento hat), £6.99, hm.com
Cover of Spare by Prince Harry
A slight cop-out but very useful for any fair-haired man who has a light suit lying around. You get to look quite nice, like you’re on a holiday in the Amalfi Coast, and then if anyone complains you haven’t tried enough you can hold the cover of Spare up to your face like a mask. Boo.
Spare by Prince Harry, £19.99, waterstones.com
The Roman Empire
Single people, I am handing this one to you on a plate. Dress up as a Roman gladiator, walk up to the desired person of your choice and say, “How often do you think about me?” with the confidence of an early 2000s Joey Tribbiani. You’re welcome. (P.S. added points if you sneak your mates into the party inside a massive wooden horse).
Gladiator sandals, £20, asos.com
Kourtney Kardashian with the "Travis I’m pregnant" sign
You don’t need to be pregnant for this but it would be a very well-timed pregnancy reveal if you happen to be. Also, you don’t need anything except a sign, so this is a really easy one for someone who just wants to look hot and hold things. Or you can go the whole hog and buy the T-shirt, it’s up to you.
Travis I’m Pregnant shirt, £20.25, etsy.com
This Halloween, why not go as The Patron Saint of London, aka Tube Girl? All you need is to look hot-off-the-runway levels of amazing, bring one small item of TfL merch, and practise hitting your angles. It really couldn’t be easier.
Tube print scarf, £70, ltmuseumshop.co.uk
Or, as a couple’s alternative, you can go as Tube Girl’s natural enemy: bedbugs. The little critters have apparently invaded the capital, so your costume is not only topical but also genuinely scary!