As Halloween approaches, I’d like to make a public service announcement. Don’t do it!
Does your company allow costumes to be worn to celebrate this fun, candy-filled holiday? As an HR practitioner, this makes me cringe. I hate to be a party pooper, and I do enjoy Halloween (see, I can get in on the action). What concerns me is the possibility of the inappropriate costumes that are sure to flood the workplace. I think most of us know not to wear racially insensitive costumes or ripped-from-the-headlines-inappropriate outfits, for example, a sexy Ebola nurse (yes, it’s real) costume. If not, check out some of the repercussions of doing such a thing in this article from SHRM. However, I’m most concerned with the other costume choices some people may make. I get it. If you’re in a professional work environment you often feel trapped by having to wear your business professional attire, it often feels like summer vacation when you can sport your best dressed down outfit. At last, you have an opportunity to let out that bit of your personality that you’ve been dying to release at work. Unfortunately, Halloween may not be the time to do this.
Once you wear something like this to work you cannot take it back. You may show up on Monday ready to get back-to-business, unfortunately, your co-workers will still have visions of you in the costume that showed way too much leg/cleavage/butt. Or, the decision you made to show up without a shirt because you thought it would be fun to come as a caveman to the office Halloween party, may continue to haunt you all year. I know a lot of people feel like it’s no big deal. We’re all adults and people understand that Halloween is for fun, and the best part of it is that you get to dress like you normally would not. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, and you’re always under the microscope at work – no matter what someone else says. I’m not saying that your boss and peers are unable to separate the professional you and the Halloween you or that one costume will throw away years of hard work. But consider the last time you saw a CEO in thigh-high boots or with a necktie around his head. You don’t want this one outfit to call into question your judgment or limit your career growth because a co-worker posted a picture of you on their Instagram page.
I recommend playing it safe for the office Halloween costume. You can throw on those Mickey/Minnie Mouse ears or Superman shirt (minus the tights) and call it a day. If your inner-self feels compelled to go as a “sexy” anything – tell him/her no, and save that for the Halloween pub-crawl this weekend.