The best Halloween costume ideas for 2021

Spooky season is upon us, but put down the fake blood. These costume ideas will ensure you’re the afterlife of the party without it.

It’s time for a round of would you rather. Two options: leave your Halloween costume planning to the last minute and go as a half-hearted zombie again, or get a head start to ensure everyone compliments you on your look come 31st October. There is a right answer, by the way.

That’s right, the special time of year when you can unleash your alter egos with some good ol’ fancy dress has arrived. Stuck for ideas? We’ve got you covered. Here are some Halloween costume ideas that will either make you look chic, impossibly cool, tapped into the zeitgeist or all three. No tricks, just treats.

Kim Kardashian at the Met Gala

Looking to go incognito this Halloween? Your best bet is dressing up as Kim Kardashian West at September’s Met Gala, where she quite literally looked like a shadow of her former self. Her entire body and face were covered in a skintight Balenciaga bodysuit-and-dress combo, with breathing room only afforded for her floor length ponytail. It’s a sweaty fit, yes. But just think of all the time you’ll save when you don’t have to do your makeup.

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What you’ll need: A black morph suit with a small hole cut out of the head to let a fake ponytail swing free. Layer with a black T‑shirt dress and add some sock boots. If you want to go the extra mile – and your journey to the party doesn’t involve escalators – attach spare black fabric to the back of the T‑shirt dress for a dramatic, spooky bride-like train.

Lil Nas X in the Industry Baby music video

If there’s one thing Lil Nas X knows how to do, it’s set the internet on fire with a music video drop. In March he twerked for the devil in the clip for Montero (Call Me By Your Name). In July, he danced naked in prison showers for Industry Baby. In September, he paid homage to Brokeback Mountain for That’s What I Want. Now, pretty much all of these references would be great options for a Lil Nas X costume this Halloween – just don’t get arrested for indecent exposure, kids!

But one of his most recognisable looks of 2021 is the neon pink prison uniform he wore for the Industry Baby video. This could also work well as a group costume. Simply round up the crew and walk into the party as a bunch of Montero Prison escapees.

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What you’ll need: An oversized, pink v‑neck T‑shirt and a matching pair of trousers. Add extra finesse by making sure your white boxers are on display and, if you’ve got them, flashing some blinged out grillz.

Squid Game

Recovered from bingeing Squid Game? Why not relive the experience once more, but IRL at a Halloween party, with less blood and more booze? Anyone wanting to pay homage to the South Korean megahit this year has two costume options: participant or soldier. Either way, both outfits are incredibly easy to pull together in a hurry and many places are already selling ready-made costumes. Dare to play?

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What you’ll need for a participant: A turquoise tracksuit with a yellow stripe down the side, embellished with white numbers (we recommend stickers for this) to indicate your participant number. If you want to go the extra mile, layer the tracksuit over a white T‑shirt that’s also emblazoned with the same number.

What you’ll need for a soldier: A red boiler suit worn with a black belt and gloves. Most importantly, you’ll need a black mask that has either a triangle, square or circle on it.

CBA to DIY? Find ready-made costumes for both participants and soldiers here.

Kanye West

Kanye West is well into face masks at the moment, and not the disposable kind you scramble to find before getting on the bus. We’re talking full face masks that are more creepy than Covid-safe (although they actually do seem Covid-safe). His latest faves? A plastic alien monster mask and a Caucasian human face mask. Come through, Michael Myers! Replicate his latest street style looks this Halloween and, in true Ye style, you’ll leave fellow party goers feeling both perplexed and intrigued. Or just scared shitless.

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What you’ll need: A black leather bomber jacket, black jeans and black boots (bonus points if you scoop the Balenciaga Crocs boots). Add a creepy mask of your choice and before you leave the house, do 10 affirmations in the mirror to remind yourself that you are God.

Jenna Rink from 13 Going on 30

Romcoms are always good inspo for Halloween costumes (see: Clueless) and Jennifer Garner’s starring role in 2004’s 13 Going on 30 is right up there. Playing Jenna Rink, a teen girl who suddenly has to get to grips with adult life after she wishes herself into the life of a 30-year-old magazine editor, Garner’s entire wardrobe in this flick is a lot of fun, but it’s the dress she wears to a swish fashion party that really stands out. Now, thanks to the actress who played a young Jennifer in the film, Christa B. Allen, the look is getting a second wave of appreciation on TikTok and you can even buy replicas of the dress on Etsy. Thirty, flirty and thriving.

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What you’ll need: Of course, that multicolour-striped dress, strappy heels and a big, blinged-out butterfly necklace. Finish off the look with an early-2000s up-do and copious amounts of pink lipgloss.

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen smoking

Entire think-pieces have been written about Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s nicotine habit, which is arguably what makes them A) such highly recognisable paparazzi fodder, B) Halloween costume worthy and C) really cool. Kidding! Smoking isn’t cool. But dressing up like one (or two) of the 21st century’s most enduring It-Girls is.

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What you’ll need: If you’re prepared to pay, wearing head-to-toe The Row is probably your best option here. For a low-budget alternative, Zara should do the trick. Go for a dramatic black wool coat sweeping the floor, bohemian scarves loosely tied around the neck, massive sunnies (you are hiding from the paparazzi, after all) and accessorise with a beaten up designer bag (extra points for a Hermès Birkin). Complete the look with masculine leather boots and, most importantly, make sure you’ve got a Marlboro Gold hanging out your mouth at all times. Lastly, drink booze from a Starbucks coffee cup – XL, of course.

Logan Roy from Succession

The big bad Logan Roy, AKA head of the family dynasty in HBO’s hit series Succession and possibly the biggest arsehole on TV, is a Halloween costume you can pull off in both style and comfort. Plus, the show’s third season will have been out for a few weeks by then. Hot topic. If done right, you’ll radiate sheer power and intimidation the moment you walk through the door and won’t have to endure bullshit from anyone.

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What you’ll need: A burgundy tie and white shirt combo, with a double-breasted, heavy knit cardigan (rumour has it Burton’s got some good uns). Keep the colours simple and muted – our Logan’s always made more of a statement with his temper than his fashion. Keep a tumbler quarter-filled with neat whiskey in your hand where possible and make sure to swill it around condescendingly.

Zoë Kravitz and Channing Tatum

As late contenders for the hottest new couple of 2021, Zoë Kravitz and Channing Tatum have been feeding their fans (us) with pap shots of themselves looking like teenage lovers plucked straight from the mid-2000s. If you’re more concerned with having people swoon over you all night than actually dressing up, this could be the ticket for you.

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What you’ll need for Zoë: It’s all in the attitude. Tiny black wire-rimmed shades à la Trinity from The Matrix, a skin-tight black tank top with low-waisted baggy jeans and slip-on mules, gold hoops and a hot boy or girlfriend.

What you’ll need for Channing: First and foremost, a shaved head. The rest is simple enough: an oversized band merch T‑shirt, washed out Levi’s 501’s and a second-hand pair of Converse. Accessorise with a BMX, the only purpose of which will be to give your Zoë equivalent a backie all night long.

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Father, son and house of Gaga! There can be 100 people in a room, but all it takes is for Stefani Germanotta to play super glam Italian socialite, Patrizia Reggiani, to keep us dreaming.

What you’ll need: You probably won’t be able to get your hands on an archive Emanuel Ungaro number to recreate this look, but as long as you can find a dress with a square neckline, puffy sleeves and garish pattern, you should be just fine. Pair with the clunkiest silver necklace you can find, draw a couple of moles on your face, back-comb your hair and tease out a fringe before setting with a lot of hairspray. Ample cleavage is encouraged.

Post-Elon Grimes

Ah, Grimes. Did you know that the internet’s favourite ex-anti-imperialist and soon-to-be ex-girlfriend of billionaire space-pillager Elon Musk has rebranded as a Marxist? Just playing. She’s more interested in a radical decentralized UBI that […] could potentially be achieved thru crypto and gaming”. Grimes hasn’t quite ironed out that idea yet, but the case for this look as a Halloween costume remains. Hot and a conversation starter.

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What you’ll need: A copy of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and the most elvish-looking get-up you can find. Here, Grimes has gone for a one-piece Lord of the Rings meets Stars Wars vibe, which we’re 100 per cent behind. Pair with mismatched acrylic nails, a perm and semi-permanent, pastel hair dye.

Tony and Carmela Soprano (calling all couples)

They’re only the most iconic and recognisable duo in television history – plus, this is a timely choice given last month’s release of The Many Saints of Newark. Everyone has a tacky, glam housewife and wise-guy husband hidden inside them, deep down. Costumes can be worn separately, of course

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What you’ll need for Tony: One of those old school bowling shirts with seriously exaggerated lapels. There are no rules for the colour palette here, so go as wild or muted as you fancy, but Tony was known to wear a Hawaiian shirt or two in his day. Wear with taupe suit trousers, black Derby shoes, a single gold chain (if it has a crucifix pendant, even better) and an intimidatingly big watch. Then slick your hair back to within an inch of its life and pop a cigar in your mouth. Bob’s your uncle (or Junior, rather).

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What you’ll need for Carmela: A tight-fitting, V‑neck, 3/​4 sleeved top, preferably with some kind of garish pattern on it. Tuck into beige or blue slacks and accessorise with a metallic belt, a fresh set of square-tipped acrylic nails (extra points for a French mani), as much gold jewellery as you can handle and some heated rollers to make sure you get Carmela’s signature volume just right. Add lots of hairspray and wear a clip-on fringe if you must. The hair is the most important bit.

Trinity from The Matrix

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Again, a pretty appropriate choice given The Matrix 4 is coming out in a matter of weeks. Carrie-Ann Moss’ Trinity is one of cinema’s most badass and prescient characters in terms of style. These days, you wouldn’t be out of place turning up at a club in her signature garb, all of which also looks to be waterproof – very useful in this country.

What you’ll need: All black everything: a high-neck, PVC tank top with matching skin-tight trousers, knee-high boots and one of those carpenter-style belts you can hang all your bits off. Investing in a walkie-talkie for this look could be worthwhile, as would rolling up to the party on a motorbike. A floor-length leather trench coat is preferable, or you can opt for a bomber jacket depending on your mood. Pair with the speediest sunnies you can find and top it all off with a wet hair look.

Bimini Bon Boulash

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The Drag Race UK star managed to spread joy up and down the country as we trudged through a winter lockdown. Now it’s your turn to return the favour at a Halloween party by dressing up as the East London drag queen turned fashion icon. UK huns, unite.

What you’ll need: A blonde mullet wig, copious amounts of contour to get those razor-sharp cheekbones and a blacked-out smokey eye to complete the look. As for the clothes, Bimini gave us lots of iconic fits on Drag Race to choose from. If you’re feeling brave, we recommend slicing up an old Norwich City shirt and turning it into a skimpy bodysuit to replicate her first runway look. Pair with some thigh-high, patent leather boots and lashings of attitude.

A$AP Rocky at the Met Gala

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You know those days when you just don’t want to get out of bed? Well, if that’s the mentality you find yourself in on Halloween, dress up as A$AP Rocky’s Met Gala look and take the bed with you. With Rihanna on his arm, the rapper simply wrapped a vintage quilt around himself for his night at the Met. Who said beauty was pain?

What you’ll need: A patchwork quilt or blanket, a pair of diamond stud earrings (diamante will work if you’re not on Rocky’s budget) and fresh box braids. That’s literally it. Simple.

Olivia and Paula from The White Lotus (grab your BFF)

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Hell hath no fury like the scorn of a privileged teen, which is what made the glares of fake besties Olivia and Paula so terrifying in The White Lotus. The next gen of mean girls, they laid by the pool all day reading” Nietzsche and Judith Butler, looking up only to deliver a cutting dig to whomever dared go near them. Utterly chilling.

What you’ll need: Brightly coloured tank tops and beach shorts, paired with dark sunglasses – preferably Ray Bans. Wear your hair in beachy waves or braids and layer on dainty rings. Most of all, don’t forget to carry a copy of a book that will make you look smart, such as works by the aforementioned Nietzsche or Butler.

Lockdown Ben Affleck

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If you’re looking for a low effort, big lols costume this year, then there’s perhaps no one better than the man who epitomised all our feelings throughout lockdown, Ben Affleck. Often papped looking exasperated and struggling to balance his many cups of iced coffee on top of packages, he was the much-memed mood of early 2021, scowling at the outside world as he got his weekly Dunkin’ Donuts fix. Be more Ben and spend the 31st October buzzed on caffeine, giving dirty looks to trick or treaters and/​or party guests.

What you’ll need: The clothes are simple. All you’ll need is a pair of jeans and a navy, black or grey T‑shirt. The important details here are the cups of iced coffee and piles of packages. We suggest lining empty clear cups with brown paper (that’s your coffee) and gluing them on top of each other to create a tower. For the packages, stuff your empty parcel bags with newspaper, tape them back up and tuck under your arm. If you can, stop shaving in the run up to Halloween to get the facial hair and, for bonus points, why not treat yourself to an actual iced coffee to sip on throughout the night.

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