AFFotD’s Age-Specific Guide to American Halloween Costumes

“You’re either too old to be Trick-or-Treating, or too young to be dressed as Ashley Dupre.”

~I swear, kids are growing up so fast these days

Halloween is rapidly approaching, a time where women try to show off their figure before they stop going to the gym during the winter and men try to find costumes that are clever enough to allow them to have sex with those aforementioned women, all while children purposely suppress a lifetime of parental advice by going to dozens of stranger’s houses to ask for candy.

Yes, Halloween is a glorious occasion, especially for purveyors of alcohol, candy, and diabetes-related-limb-amputations.  Wiccans used to like it until it “sold out” by getting so commercial, but no one really cares about them, they’re like the hipsters of Pagans.  And while Halloween might be celebrated in other nations, it’s America that uses Halloween to its full potential.  But Halloween is more than simply a pumpkin stabbing occasion to dress sitcom characters in humorous costumes, it serves as America’s rite of passage from childhood into adulthood.

Think about it- your approach to Halloween is greatly determined by your age.  For some, it’s a reason to put on a costume and get some candy.  For others, it’s a reason to put on a costume and get some candy (the italics means that you were supposed to read that second “candy” in like, a super sexy voice.  Like “Imma get some caaaaandy.”  Maybe with a hip thrust or something.  Sexually).  And since AFFotD knows more about living in America than James fucking Brown, we’re here to present you with…

AFFotD’s Age-Specific Guide to American Halloween Costumes


Americans of every age will dress up in a costume to celebrate Halloween, but not all costumes are created for everybody.  While you’d expect a 25 year old woman dressed as a football player to have “69” as her uniform number, you’re probably best off sticking with an actual player’s uniform number.  But no matter what the age, Halloween allows you to express your creativity or, if you’re part of a couple, it allows you to express the fact that you and your significant other are absolutely insufferable.


But it is important to distinguish costume types for each age group, which is where we come in.  So without further ado, here is your all-purpose guide to Halloween costumes.

Boys and Girls, Age 0-2:  Store-bought costumes that engulf your entire body except for your face and hands

“Awwwwww.”  You’re going to hear that a lot, but your adorable underdeveloped baby ears won’t understand why.  Yes, if you’re a baby or a toddler, you have about as much control over your wardrobe during Halloween as a Prison Inmate in an orange jumpsuit store.  There will be pictures that your parents will use to embarrass you in front of your first girlfriend or boyfriend, but it’s pretty much out of your control.

There is no such thing as an “ugly” American baby, so pretty much whatever your parents choose to dress you up in is going to be so fucking adorable no one will be able to stand it.  Seriously, you can take Yoda, a wrinkled 900 year old hairy-eared Muppet, and replace his face with a baby, and suddenly…


It’s uncanny, and every American will respond to it.  There’s a reason why most hostage negotiators at some point in their careers have used a baby dressed as a fighter pilot to calm down the criminals they’re talking to.  True story, babies in costumes are responsible for more foiled bank robberies than those ink packets that ruin ransom money when you tinker with them.

Though, for whatever reason, the most popular baby costumes appear to be food.  If you’re a baby, you won’t be able to read too much into it, and that’s a good thing.  Babies dressed as hot dogs and the phrase, “He’s so cute I could just eat him up” are just two cultural remnants of our Puritan ancestors use of cannibalism to resolve disputes.


Aww…wait, that baby looks kinda photoshopped/pissed off

Boys and Girls, Age 3-6: Store-bought Disney/Superhero costumes

Again, a costume choice that’s going to be very adorable and most likely picked out by your parents.  You’ll be tricked in thinking that you’re picking this costume, but really your parent will ask you, “Do you want to dress up like Nemo for Halloween?” and of course you’re going to say yes to that.  You’re four years old and you just finished watching Finding Nemo for the fifth time this week.  It would be like watching your mom bake a pie, and then having them ask you if you want a slice of pie.  “Of course I fucking do, mom” you would say if you weren’t still a good 3-5 years away from saying your first swear word.

You’re not even going to realize you don’t have a say in things, so you’ll remember that time when you were six and you went as Peter Pan fondly, but you’ll forget the part where you mom randomly had a bunch of green felt lying around after that one school project on lawns.

Boys, Age 7-13:  Dinosaur/Superhero/Star Wars/Badass costumes of your choosing

You’re getting older, more opinionated, and independent with each passing year.  Peter Pan is fucking stupid, but you know what’s not stupid?  Jawas.  And Spiderman.  And Robots.  Dude, we could get some boxes and paint it grey and be robots!  That is the best fucking thing ever!

Homemade costumes are going to start appearing at this age.  Because sure, you might want to dress up as Spiderman and buy a costume for that, or you could get your mom to paint your face to look like the Joker from The Dark Knight.  If your parents are rich, absolutely get one of those super realistic light sabers and be a Jedi.  If your parents are cool and let you see rated R movies, go as Robocop.  Really at this point, your goal is to dress up as the coolest thing imaginable, and in your mind, nothing is cooler than Dinosaurs, Superheroes, Robots, or Star Wars characters.  Embrace it, because once you start feeling embarrassed of how much you like Adventure Time, your childhood dies a little bit.

Girls, Age 7-13:  Princesses/Gender-specific store bought costumes


Listen, we know that Gender issues are complicated, and saying “Boys should dress like boys and girls should dress like girls” is both ignorant of the times and problematic for people who will go on to have different sexual identities.  But fuck that, pre-puberty, you girls are going to dress in girly costumes.  Yes, there will be a handful of the tomboys that dress up as Robin Hood, and that’s totally acceptable as well, but generally you’ll have your princesses and your Jasmine-from-Aladdins and what have you.  But this is that weird time of your life where that is what you’re more or less expected to do.

Oh, and some of you might dress up as a witch.  That’s okay too.

Boys, Age 14-15:  You’re too old to trick-or-treat, but like candy.  So put a damn mask on.

Parents hate giving candy to acne-ridden, 14 year old kids.  But acne-ridden, 14 year old kids still like candy.  So if you cover your mask, you only have your height to betray you.  And you can pretend to be a tall younger child, just so long as you put a damn mask on.  Don’t say anything, be eerily silent, and just stare at them through your Alien or Monster eyes, bag held outwards, silently waiting for candy.

Your eyes will haunt them until they get you what you want.  Your eyes will haunt them.

Boys, Age 15-17, Girls, Age 14-17:  Nothing

You’re probably going to have a bit of a breakup with Halloween at this point.  You might go to some parties on the actual day, but Halloween at this point will be a sort of non-holiday for you.  Don’t worry though, this is your time in a Halloween cocoon as you await to emerge into Halloween adulthood, eventually bursting forth like a butterfly.  In the ladies’ case, a slutty, sexy butterfly, but a butterfly nonetheless.

Women, Age 18-30:  Drunk Sexy Noun.  Whatever it is, make it drunk and “sexy.”  Topical costumes are encourages (but only if you can make them drunk and sexy).


Once you hit College, Halloween becomes a whole new ballgame.  This is the time of the year where you are meant to drink and show way more of your skin than you normally would be comfortable doing in a public setting.  Listen, you’ll only have a certain time to take advantage of it, so take advantage of the fact that people want to stare at your bare midriff at this point in your life- you’ll miss it when you’re in your 40s.

While many decree Halloween as a “shallow” holiday where “women dress like sluts” and “get too drunk” the fact of the matter is that this is how Americans let off some steam.  If it weren’t for America’s desire to flaunt some sexuality after a year of self-repression, we wouldn’t have the concept of the sexy librarian.  Before you decree Halloween as an occasion for “women to objectify themselves” think about this.  As much as you dislike Halloween parties filled with women in the midst of their physical peak showing off their bodies…sorry, we lost our train of thought.  But the point is, it’s American, and it’s glorious.

The real fact of the matter is, 99.999% of women who dress up for Halloween do not look like, say, the especially scantily clad Sarah Palin costume model in the picture listed above.  But Halloween isn’t about unrealistic standards of beauty, it’s about body self-affirmation.  While this sounds like a flimsy excuse from one of our male writers to get more women to show some skin during Halloween (and, well, it kind of is) there is a lot of truth to it.  Women of all shapes and sizes use Halloween as an excuse to dress up as a sexy noun, and apart from the fact that you get some hilarious examples of sexy nouns (Sexy Darth Vader and Sexy Chucky Doll come to mind) it really serves as a reason for women to let themselves feel good about their body.  And as for the booze, well for the vast majority of women who aren’t going to feel in their own skin with an exposed midriff in 50 degree weather, the booze will just make the process a lot more comfortable.

And while the ladies have the task of showing as much of their featured body part of choice as they legally can without having to get their apartment the proper permits to make it a legal nude beach, men of this age have to grapple with their own costume choices.

Men, Age 18-65:  Humorous costume, offensive costume, topical costume, or some unholy combination of the three.  Bonus points if the you are able to respond to a “What are you dressed as?” question in a way to make the costume funnier.

That picture up there?  That’s actually one of our former staff writers, from a Halloween party in 2008.  “What’s he dressed up as?” you just asked.  Well, he went as Alzheimer Ronald Reagan that year, and just went around mumbling, giving out miniature American Flags to people dressed as soldiers, and occasionally eating Jelly Beans.

“Wow, that is offensive, but I find that funny because I read AFFotD and am not some uptight person with no sense of humor,” you no doubt added.  Let’s look at this unnamed former employees costume the following year (we didn’t ask this writer’s permission before grabbing these pictures of him, partly because part of the contract you sign to start working for AFFotD literally gives us license to use anything you’ve ever done in your life up to that point.  We have so many sex tapes of former employees we don’t know what to do with them.  Just kidding, we leak them onto the internet).

“I don’t get it, what is he dressed up as now?” you ask.

The scariest thing he could think of, we’d respond.

“What’s that?”

The lead singer of Nickelback.

“Ha.  That’s funny.”

As you can see, men typically will not use Halloween as an excuse to dress slutty (except for gay men, who use Halloween as an excuse to make every straight woman feel insecure about her physique) but they will use it as an excuse to try to get women to sleep with them.  The majority of men are forced to do this with a topical or humorous costume that can be used to strike up conversation with the Sarah Palin costumes of 2008 or the sexy zombies of 2010 or even the slutty occupy wall street protestors of 2011.

Of course, this is where finesse is required, because there is a thin line between “humorous Halloween costume” and “seeing four people dressed up as the same thing as you in the party.”  Yes, wearing Ryan Gosling’s bloodied scorpion jacket from the movie Drive seems like a pretty good costume idea, but when you see two of them hanging out with the guys dressed as Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s World, you’re going to feel pretty embarrassed.

Similarly, beware potential traps.  Yes, Zombie Steve Jobs sounds epic.  You just need an ipod, a turtle neck, and zombie makeup.  It’s both topical, funny, and offensive.  But think outside the box.  A lot of people will be going the Steve Jobs zombie route.  Why not go with a Zombie Gaddafi?  It’s a bit tougher, but a lot less likely to be duplicated at a party.

Otherwise, topical can be tricky.  Bin Laden died five months ago, but that was a big enough deal that you’ll probably see a few Seal Team Six members (people with dogs can add Osama Bin Laden hunting dogs to the costumes to make it more unique) and a handful of Osama Bin Laden burials.  That’s a risk you’ll always run if you’re going topical, but you can always just bring a bunch of tape, mini cereal boxes, and plastic knives with you just in case you need to switch into a “cereal killer” at the last minute.  Get it?  Get it?

GET IT!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?

Women, Age 35-65 (or, Women-who-don’t-like-to-dress-up-slutty-for-Halloween, Age 18-50):  See above

Yes, it is sexist to claim that women have to dress slutty and that straight men have to dress topical/funny.  It’s the prevalent societal trait, but it’s not the norm.  And while many of our female staffers prefer to go the slutty route (and most of our male gay staff members also go the sexy route) there are some that will adhere to the rules listed above.

But we couldn’t find any examples, because when we tried to google “non-sexy funny women costumes” a hand broke through the screen to punch us in the face, and then a brick got thrown through our window with a note saying.

“Dear smartasses,

Stop fucking around, you know we weren’t created for that.


The Internet.”

So, you know.  That leads us to the subset that mixes the last three groups.

Couples, Ages 18-65:  Themed costume that is either insufferable (like Wilma and Fred Flinstone) or kind of funny

You and your significant other both really enjoy dressing up for Halloween, so it only makes sense that you’ll dress up together, right?  Sure, but tread carefully.  If you make it inventive and humorous, the costume could be out of the park.  But if you decide to just take two things that go together (“Honey let’s be bacon and eggs, lulz!”) you’re going to possibly create a surge in demand for cornea implants after so many people start rolling their eyes too aggressively.  So while this can be a way to get a humorous, topical theme costume, the only real safe bet is to make sure that at least one of you is in drag.

Everyone over the age of 65:  Feel free to be racist!  (Just, you know, the okay kind of racist)

So, white senior citizens reading this, we hate to break it to you, but this does not mean you can dress in blackface.  We know, you’ve been waiting for you to be allowed to do that, it’s just not going to happen.  Asians though?  Sure, absolutely, when you get old enough your racism is no longer threatening, and it’s just a humorous sign of how times have changed.  But really, just go to town with it.  Have fun, we’re not here to judge you (well, much).

But really, for everyone that chooses to celebrate America through Halloween, the objective is simple.  Go out there and have fun.  Pretend to be someone else for a night, and just enjoy yourself.

Unless you’re trying to go as Lady Gaga, in which case, for the love of God, find a different costume, you are ruining this for everyone.


4 responses to “AFFotD’s Age-Specific Guide to American Halloween Costumes

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