What to wear on Halloween if you’re too cool for costumes

Too fashion for a costume? Alright, spoilsport. SS23 was awash with darker themes, so you can get in on the action without mucking your face – or wardrobe – up.

This Halloween weekend, the organised will have an evening of intense costume preparation, before heading off into the hallowed night for a debauched house party that everyone will be jealous of, where guests have spent hours, weeks, months coming up with an ingenious get-up. The rest of us will helplessly pick apart our wardrobe on Saturday night in the hopes of knocking out something remotely scary – chances are, an all-black outfit with a splatter of fake blood.

Then there’s the rest of you, the spoilsports who don’t do Halloween”, who think costumes are a little juvenile. Those too fashion for costumes. Yes, you should get a grip, but if you’re really that afraid of having a laugh, you can always go the runway route instead. At this season’s SS23 shows, there were darker themes abound: facial piercings, subverted crucifixes, goth layering, veils. Spooky, but also very stylish, so you can kill two birds and get involved – without looking like you’ve tried. Oh, you’re so cool.

Nihilistic teen

Balenciaga SS23

Rules suck, and the world is ending anyway, right? The nihilistic teen is over it, hunched over, rolling their eyes and telling mum and dad to do one”. They’ve been all the rage at Heaven by Marc Jacobs since the brand launched in 2020, taking it back to Gen X jeans, grunge babydoll dresses and slogan T‑shirts that tell it how it is. And this season, Balenciaga raised hell with a suitably moody SS23 collection, featuring stroppy models stomping down a muddy runway, hoods pulled over heads and sunglasses kept firmly on, even in the dark. In other words, stay away and leave me to wither in the depths of a society that doesn’t care.” Get it?

Wear: Balenciaga and Heaven by Marc Jacobs, with an iced latte in hand and cigarette in mouth

Listen to: Pretty Sick, Beabadoobee, Sonic Youth

Watch: Ghost World, Igby Goes Down, Lady Bird

Say: Whatever”

Ricki Lake’s club kids

At its peak in the 90s, The Ricki Lake Show often hosted fantastic freaks of the underground, who pledged their allegiance to the devil, declared their ambitions to sleep all day and party all night” and defended their impeccably transgressive looks, while conservative parents shook their heads in shame. Their radical styles are a great alternative to your typical Halloween costume. Go full New York club kid clubber like Richie Rich, paint your hair pink, or become a bombshell muse like OG club kid Amanda LePore. For cues, look to Raf Simons’ neon leggings, Balenciaga’s facial piercings, Leigh Bowery’s otherworldly designs, Junya Watanabe’s multicoloured mohawks and Isamaya Ffrenchs cosmic beauty looks. Paired with an all-killer attitude, you’ll look out of this world (in the middle of a dancefloor, of course).

Wear: Junya Watanabe, Raf Simons, Isamaya Beauty

Listen: Saucy house

Watch: The Ricki Lake Show, Monster Party

Say: I’m on the list”

God’s least favourite

Blumarine SS23

Nothing divides people like religion. A controversial theme in pop culture, The Exorcist turned to it for screams in 1973 when a possessed Regan MacNeil used a crucifix to, er… you know the rest. A decade later, Madonna and the Vatican went head to head after the 1989 release of Like a Prayer, and a few years later in 1992, Sinead O’Connor fought the real enemy” and sent the US into a frenzy when she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II, protesting the Catholic Church covering up sexual abuse cases. Fashion has naturally been in on the action too. Jean Paul Gaultier was inspired by traditional Hasidic Jewish dress for his 1993 collection, Chic Rabbis. Master imaginator Hussein Chalayan subverted the Islamic niqāb for his SS98 show and, just last month, Blumarine swam to dark depths for a mermaid-inspired collection that featured oversized crosses on denim corsets and necklaces. What ties all of this together? They pissed a lot of people off. Stick it to The Man above in saintly style.

Wear: Blumarine, Praying

Listen: PJ Harvey, Sinead O’Connor

Watch: Saint Maud

Say: Fear the faith”


Junya Watanabe SS23

Goths have long loomed over fashion, casting a shadow and beckoning lowly followers to the dark side. Designers like Ann Demeulemeester, Gareth Pugh and Yohji Yamamoto have often been inspired by death, sex and the macabre, and this season was no different. Versace embraced the gothic bride with black veils, detailed chokers, deep purple leather and hooded cut-out dresses, while Dior presented black Victoriana ruffles via floor-length skirts, netted gloves and Wednesday Addams-style pigtails. And in Dilara Findikoglu’s SS23 show, amongst the blood reds, nudes and slashed fabrics were heavily layered black gowns, eerie caped hoods and spellbinding embroideries. Going goth this Halloween will make for a chic look that feels a little more… univiting. See you in hell.

Wear: Versace, Dior, Dilara Findikoglu

Listen: The Cure

Watch: The Crow

Say: We don’t hug”

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