Halloween costumes reflect 2023 pop culture

A group of students dress up as famous murder mystery game Clue characters
A group of students dress up as famous murder mystery game “Clue” characters
Iniya Saravanan

There is only one time of year where a zombie can be spotted next to a Barbie, or Taylor Swift alongside Batman. This is the day that all corners of pop culture unite, creatively showcased in costume-form by both children and adults alike: Halloween. The trends in Halloween costumes tend to change with the times, as each passing year often comes with a new slew of movies, TV, and news to influence current and witty costumes.

Earlier in 2023, “Barbenheimer” took the internet by storm when two films of completely opposite genres, Barbie and Oppenheimer, were both released on the same day. In just ten days after their release, the two movies garnered over $1.1 billion in global ticket sales. Paul Dergarbedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, explains how “Barbenheimer” will remain one of the most significant milestones in cinema history, not only for the revitalization industry but “also as a cultural event centered around moviegoing” (CNBC News).

Many considered both Barbie and Oppenheimer some of the top movies of the year, so it should come as no surprise that they will both inspire some of the more popular halloween costumes of 2023. Sporting a series of humorous and striking outfits—from rollerblading sets to cowboy costumes—Margot Robbie’s Barbie and Ryan Gosling’s Ken will stand out as a trend for duos this halloween. Similarly, those who took to Oppenheimer’s moodier tone may take costume inspiration from Cillian Murphy’s rendition of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer. The character has a distinct look, with his long overcoat, high-waisted trousers, pipe, and porkpie hat.

Although superheroes and villains have remained staple halloween costumes for decades, the more recent Miles Morales—a version of Spider-Man from Brooklyn—is expected to be a quite popular costume for Marvel fans this Halloween. After the recent release of his sequel film, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, many fans will likely dress up in Miles’ distinct black-and-red spider-man suit, or perhaps as Spider-Gwen and the many variations of Spider-Man from the movie.

This Halloween, there will be more costume cameos of debut TV show characters. The supernatural comedy Wednesday that stars Jenna Ortega came out in November 2022, making this the first Halloween since its release. Inspired by the old American sit-com, The Addams Family, these creepy yet lovable characters will make for many fun Halloween costumes in 2023. The third season of Ted Lasso also became available to stream this year. The comedic series follows an American football coach, hired to manage a British soccer team. The character makes for a funny costume this Halloween, recognized for his blue tracksuit, aviators, visor, and thick mustache.

On-screen characters are not the only source of creativity for peoples’ halloween costumes; many also turn to celebrities to inspire their looks. Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has had a big year in 2023, from her sixth concert tour—the Era’s Tour—to the release of albums Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and 1989 (Taylor’s Version), as well as a recent movie Taylor Swift: The Era’s Tour. Her tour grew far beyond a mere concert—it became an entire event for superfans, generating “close to $5 billion in consumer spending” (Time Magazine).

More recently, Swift went public with Travis Kelce, tight-end for the Kansas City Chiefs. Upon being spotted at a Chiefs game alongside his mom, Travis Kelce Jersey sales have reportedly spiked “400% in sales” (ESPN). The new couple will likely be the source of many niche costumes this year. Other popular celebrity costumes will likely be Rihanna—particularly in her all-red Super Bowl look—and Justin and Hailey Bieber, who never appear dressed for the same event.

Trends in Halloween costumes offer a strong reflection of the year as it passes, as well as the pop culture accompanying it. These costumes serve as a reminder of everything and everyone the world is currently fixated on—with themes both young, old, and timeless.

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