Wearing the Wrong Halloween Costume to Work Could be a Bad Career Move

by Vault Careers | October 18, 2011

  • My Vault

It's Halloween and the temptation to wear your costume to the office can be hard to overcome—especially if you've invested a lot of time and effort in getting it just right. But when it comes to dressing up at the workplace, those who value their careers should think hard about their wardrobe selection, and consider removing some of the "tricks and treats."

While many people seem to take on a whole new personality at Halloween, workers should tread carefully when choosing a costume to wear at work—even if it means being forced to choose separate outfits for the office and their Halloween night shenanigans. Even if your company permits masks and costumes during office hours, it's better to play it safe, and remember that the harassment policy you signed earlier in the year does not magically disappear with the holiday.

It is common for those dressed in a costume to lose their inhibitions and behave as if a tail and mask give them license to act out.  Co-workers need to maintain a level of decorum when observing Halloween in the workplace."

Steer Clear of "Sexy"

Never wear anything that oozes 'date' or 'sex,' such as a bunny costume, sexy witch, cow girl, nurse, or teacher. If you think it crosses the line, it probably does. These would be costumes that show too much cleavage, butt or leg. 

Wearing provocative outfits could make co-workers feel uncomfortable or lead to unwanted sexual advances, potentially resulting in legal actions—something that no employer wants to deal with. This means that if you wouldn’t normally go to the office in an outfit that would make Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj blush, you should continue that practice at the office on Halloween. That goes for the guys too: Halloween is not an excuse to come to the office without a shirt on.

Watch What You Say With Your Costume

It's possible to get into costume-related trouble even if you're only revealing an opinion with your outfit.

Don't wear anything that could be conveyed as offensive to different religions, ethnicities, genders, and/or political leanings.

So, if you were thinking of using your costume to make a point about one of the issues of the day, stop and think about how colleagues or clients may react. Could you open yourself up to a harassment claim or altercation that could carry on past the Halloween season? Even if you're only poking fun at a political figure, keep in mind that your colleagues may not share your opinions.

If there is even a remote possibility of causing offense, you may want to stick to something tried and true like a vampire. After all, with the way people react to Twilight, yours willl almost still seem cool.

Some Other Halloween at the Office Tips

  • Employers should voice their thoughts on Halloween protocols in the office so that everyone is on the same page before the big day.
  • Remember that even if you do show up in costume, you still have a job to do. Despite your disguise, the actions you take today will be remembered tomorrow and could contribute to the unemployment numbers next week. Stay in control.
  • It's ok to celebrate but keep the noise down and celebration contained to the lunch hour.
  • If you are client facing, your customers may not be amused by the costume, so keep it strictly for the lunch party with officemates only.
  • Halloween at the office can still be fun. Just pay attention to others around you and leave the more risqué fun, if that's what you choose to do, for the witching hour.

-- Jon Minners, Vault.com

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

Close button

Get tips on interviewing, networking, resumes, and more directly to your inbox.

No Thanks

Get Our Career Newsletter

Interview, resume and job search tips emailed directly to you.