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Hallowen costumes on the subway
Photograph: Shutterstock

21 hilarious NYC-inspired halloween costumes

Go as Fran Lebowitz or the Times Square Ferris Wheel—spooky!

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

Want to hear something scary? You only have five days to figure out your Halloween costume.

If you're struggling, we can help. NYC-inspired costumes can be a huge hit at Halloween parties, so why not go as something from the current local zeitgeist? Even some dogs took cues from the five boroughs at the Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade.

RECOMMENDED: A full guide to Halloween in NYC

Pizza Rat and RBG had their time. Now it's all about the terrifying ranked-choice voting ballot and the spooky Times Square Ferris Wheel. See below for 21 hilarious NYC-inspired Halloween costumes:

1. A ranked-choice voting ballot

New Yorkers were thrust into using this new ballot, and boy did it cause a stir. Bring back the chaos it caused by dressing up as a massive ranked-choice voting ballot and asking everyone for their specific, ranked choice Halloween candy preference.

2. A streetery

Restaurants got very creative over the past two years with their outdoor dining setups—trolleys, sinking ships, igloos—so there's many options to pick from. Walk around inside a cardboard box that's open in the front and people should get the gist.

Photograph: Courtesy Banzarbar

3. A menu QR code

Dining out sans paper menus is all thanks to these new fandangled QR codes. If you dressed as one, you could send anyone who takes a photo of you to any website!

4. SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

New York City's newest skyscraper has a super cool mirrored installation that reflects probably the best view of the city. Go as SUMMIT One Vanderbilt by wearing a suit of mirrors!

Summit One Vanderbilt
Photograph: Courtesy Summit One Vanderbilt

5. A Zoom call uniform

This might be less of a costume and more of a uniform at this point, but people will get it. It's a social commentary but also a comfortable getup that'll be relevant and funny. Think: Business casual up top and PJs on the bottom.

6. The Brooklyn Bridge bike lane

It was a major win for bicyclists to finally get a bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge but it kind of fell short—at just eight feet wide, it can be scary for some cyclists who would rather not be in such close range to oncoming bike traffic. 

7. An office

Go as "the office"...because everyone’s scared to go back. It's a spooky proposition for those of us who had the privilege of working from home all these months: the close desks, the social distancing signage, the middle managers *shudder.*

8. The subway social distancing and mask icons

These icons are quite dystopian in nature but became just another sign we pass in the subway. The MTA did get a little creative and added paw prints among them.

MTA mask signs
Photograph: Courtesy MTA

9. A giant OMNY card

Gone are the days of the MetroCard. Meet the OMNY card, the sleek new card that essentially does the same function. It's hot. It's new. It can be you!

10. Moynihan Station

Penn Station got an upgrade this past year with the shiny new Moynihan Station. Wear a giant clock around your neck and make sure there are no seats to be had in your vicinity.

Moynihan Train Hall
Photograph: Courtesy the Governor's Office

11. Little Island

Manhattan's hottest park is very futuristic looking with its giant pylons rising out of the Hudson River. Maybe take a cue from its designers to make yourself your own Little Island.

Little Island
Photograph: Michael Grimm

12. The floating New Yorker

Some New Yorkers thrive in extreme weather events, apparently. One man was seen enjoying hookah on a floatation device during Ida in September. He's a flood icon. Don a floaty and smoke your hookah for one of the easiest costumes ever!

13. The Times Square Ferris Wheel

It was the biggest stunt of the year when a Ferris wheel went up in the middle of Times Square. We won't forget about it for years to come, but strike while the iron is hot with your own Ferris wheel costume with a mini Bill de Blasio in one of the gondolas!

Times Square Ferris Wheel
Artist rendering: Anthony George

14. Patience and Fortitude

The NYPL's lions are an iconic and classy costume for those who especially love the library and it's better than a boring cat costume!

nypl lions
Photograph: Courtesy Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

15. Selena Gomez from Only Murders in the Building

Our girl was so good in the new Hulu show and gave us goddess looks, especially that orange coat we're all obsessed with. Go as Selena's Mabel on the hunt for the killer. 

Only Murders In The Building
Photograph: Craig Blankenhorn, courtesy Hulu

16. A spotted lanternfly

These buggers caused a brief panic in New York when scientists told us to squash them on sight. They're plant killers but oh so pretty—a good combination for a Halloween costume.

Spotted Lanternfly
Photograph: Shutterstock

17. A Riverside Park goat

These goats are the MVPs of NYC, chomping and mowing down invasive plant species in one of our favorite parks. Go as Chalupa, this year's GOAT.

Photograph: Shutterstock

18. Bodega cat

Another NYC icon, the bodega cat is a little rough around the edges but much beloved. All you'd need to do is scruff up your cat costume, carry around some bags of chips and sport an attitude.

19. Manhattanhenge

The natural phenomenon we all can't get enough of could be a fun costume you can get artsy with and pair with a friend who just takes pictures of you all night!

20. Fran Lebowitz

We all love her and she has an iconic style—the hair, the glasses, the scowl. No one would question who you are. Watch Pretend It's a City, the Martin Scorsese-directed Netflix documentary, to get some good NYC quotes to spit at people passing by.

Fran Lebowitz
Photograph: Bill Hayes

21. Kim Kardashian's all-black Met Gala outfit

It's both scary, on topic and somehow fashionable—it's Kim Kardashian's Met Gala look. Dress in head-to-toe in black fabric if you want to make heads turn in fear and confusion at this nod to the city's biggest fashion event of the year.

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