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Image of a zombie in Halloween attire against a backdrop of frowning pumpkins
Photograph: Time Out / Shutterstock

13 Halloween costume fails to avoid at all costs

These terrifyingly bad Halloween costume fails will come back to haunt you

Emilee Lindner
Written by
Emilee Lindner

Okay, so your brain is fried after a year full of chaos, and perhaps the mere thought of brainstorming Halloween costumes is painful enough. But before you give up and reach for something punny, tacky, or crude, a word of caution: your look may come back to haunt you.

Halloween costume fails are real, and they can happen to anyone. How can you avoid them? For starters, steer clear of outfits that use the word “sexy” in the title (ahem, like this Sexy Essential Worker, a serious no-no), and maybe don’t break out the scissors and sewing machine unless you’re actually crafty (badly constructed outfits are among the worst offenders, however hilarious they are).

Need ideas that aren’t guaranteed to fail? We’ve got plenty of 2021 Halloween costume ideas for you. But in the meantime, stay far, far away from the Halloween costume fails below.

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Halloween costume fails

1. (Not) Sexy Vaccine

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A post shared by 3Wishes (@3wisheslingerie)

You knew this was coming. You hoped it wasn’t true. And yet here we are, wondering who in the world plans to actually dress up as a “sexy vaccine” this year. While highly of-the-moment, the concept — an uninspired beige bodysuit and syringe headband — doesn’t embody “vaccine” or “sexy.” Who mandated this look? Not us. 

2. Crowning baby

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A post shared by Kino (@kinopori)

There’s always that one person who takes it too far, and that’s definitely this guy. Unlike a lot of other costumes on our list, this one is surprisingly well constructed — which somehow makes it worse in our book. When it comes to winning an award for the Most WTF? Halloween Costume, this guy takes the crown (sorry, had to do it).



3. Shawn Mendes’s “me, but beat up” look

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A post shared by Shawn Mendes (@shawnmendes)

Some celebs, like The Weeknd, go big on Halloween and really show off their creativity. But Shawn? Let’s just say last year’s look did not have us in stitches. Shawn captioned his 2020 Halloween getup “me, but beat up,” and although we’re not saying a costume requires hours in the makeup chair, we think you can at least wear a costume to a costume party. Here’s hoping he steps it up this year.


6. Cotton Candy (kinda)

Without explanation, what would you really think this costume was? Ditto from Pokemon? Chewed up bubblegum? Maybe a Scrub Daddy? We don’t know if cotton candy would have been one of your guesses, but this Halloween memory gets points for originality and DIY spirit even if it is a little off the mark.


7. This horrifying Teletubby

This one is going to haunt us. As if the dead-eyed Teletubbies aren’t already nightmare fuel to begin with, this attempted costume took it to the next level. Some of the individual features show some ingenuity, but when everything comes together it’s too much to handle. Plus, there’s something extra unsettling about the hue of the toxic-coloured antenna, but it’s the bulging, hanging eyes that are totally cringe. Some things you can’t unsee.

8. Emily Ratajkowski’s Marge Simpson

Even Emily Ratajkowski would consider her DIY Marge Simpson look from Heidi Klum’s 2015 Halloween bash a “D’OH!” moment, but we think otherwise. Here’s the storey: “It’s an hour before I have to be there and I’m like, ‘OK screw it,’ so I took the yellow and rubbed it in like lotion, which you’re not supposed to do,” Emily told Jimmy Kimmel Live. “As you can see these streaks on the legs. By the end of the night, I was a zombie Marge Simpson.” Zombie Marge? Still a good costume, regardless.

9. Earthworm baby

For those hoping this baby earthworm costume is fake, we’re sorry to disappoint you. The pale, curved tube of fabric was sold at Walmart for $14.99 — bargain? — and the product description is a hoot. Claiming the costume is “probably the cutest thing you've ever seen,” the vendor urges parents to “let this little worm wiggle into your heart.” The baby doesn’t even look happy about this situation, and honestly, baby knows best.

10. Deer in headlights

Har har. This Halloween costume needs to travel back a decade or two when boob-man jokes were still funny (not that they were ever actually funny). The “deer in headlights” pun will probably still give some dudes a chuckle, but they probably still get a kick out of Austin Powers, too, so there you have it.


11. Cat and litter box

Couples costumes are a great idea if you’ve got someone who also loves to dress up. But this couple took things a little too far with their cat and litter box idea. It should go without saying that your Halloween costume doesn’t need to include poop. Sure, everyone does it, but this look is doo-doo nonetheless.

12. Marlboro and Jack Daniels

This has to be the most “dad’s in charge” costume of all time. Obviously, this is not a 21st-century costume — it’s a hilarious blast from the past. Perhaps Cheerios and a juice box would’ve been a more Rated G daddy-and-me costume?


13. Kiss butt

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A post shared by Patrick Young (@phy_mist)

No ifs, ands, or butts about it, this heinous heinie costume is at the bottom of our list. Decorated with smooches and a “poop cigar,” don’t let this keister costume tempt you, goofballs — avoid this cheeky blob of polyester at all costs. But who are we to judge if you want to make an arse of yourself?


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