Is it appropriate to dress up for the holiday?

Halloween is a time when even working adults want to bring out their inner child.  Whether that means binging on snack size candy, picking pumpkins, or dressing up in costume.  Even though it is a festive time, it does not mean that it is time to neglect the office dress code. 

The office dress code is something to keep in mind every day before you leave for work as it is something that most companies have a written policy on.  Holiday dressing on the other hand is something that is not usually written out in black and white, but there are definitely some key things to keep in mind if you are going to partake.

1. Ask your supervisor what their policy is on dressing up

This may seem obvious, but it is something that can easily be forgotten when making holiday plans.  Ask your supervisor what their policy is on dressing up for the holiday and be prepared to respect his or her decision.  If you feel your supervisor has given you an answer that is not concrete in either direction, you can ask a few coworkers in your department what the usual protocol has been.

2. Make sure to have the usual office dress code in mind

Even though the trend outside of work may be to make everything extra provocative for Halloween, this does not mean it is ok to wear the same style of outfit to work.  If the typical office dress code is business casual, for example, try to model an outfit around that guideline.  

3. Keep the costume neutral

Do not consider a costume that could be seen as playing on racial, religious or ethnic stereotypes.  Same goes for costumes that touch on hot button issues such as the orange jumpsuit costume with “Illegal Alien” in the name section.  You do not want to offend anyone at work inadvertently because you decided to dress as something that could be seen as offensive.  On a similar note, just because no one at your job may find it offensive still does not mean it is a green light to wear it.  As we know from years and years of internet horror stories, pictures live forever on the internet and that picture Sally took of you could end up resurfacing next time you are on the job market. 

4. Don’t dress in a way that can impede your ability to do your job.

 If your job responsibilities include answering the phone, it is probably not the best idea to wear a mask.  If safety requirements include that you wear closed toed shoes, it is probably not the best idea to be a Grecian god/goddess and wear sandals.  You get the idea.  Even though it may be a holiday, that does not mean that is an excuse to not get any work done that day.  In general, if it makes it hard for you to talk, hear, type, or affects your safety, it is probably not the best choice to wear for work.

5. If in doubt, consider an alternative way to celebrate.

At a risk of sounding like the Ebenezer Scrooge of Halloween, if you are not sure of what would be appropriate don’t dress up.  Instead consider an alternate way to express your love of the holiday without dressing up.  You could get a fun holiday candy container to put on your desk and fill with mini candies for example.  Another option to consider could be getting a few small desk accessories to add some festive flair such as small gourds or figurines.

If you keep these rules in mind, your office Halloween should go by without a hitch!

Happy Halloween!