Nerd Culture

10 Hottest Halloween Costume Trends of 2016

Let’s just get this outta the way first: A helluva lot of people will be spending their Halloween as either the Joker or Harley Quinn.

That’s not just our gut reaction, mind you, even though we’ve already encountered a gazillion different versions of the famed DC Comics characters this year. According to Google’s Frightgeist site, which tracks Halloween costuming trends, both Harley Quinn and the Joker are the most most popular costume choices, both nationally and here in Arizona.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other options when it comes to choosing what you’ll be going as for Halloween.

To wit: If you’re a fan of Stranger Things (and you really oughta be), you could always go as Joyce Byers, Eleven, or even the silver-haired Dr. Brenner. Or you could dress up as Kylo Ren or Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, go as your favorite Pokémon, or spring for one of those nifty inflatable T-Rex deals you’ve seen on YouTube.

Put simply, you’ve got plenty of things to choose from. One thing you don’t have, however, is time, as Halloween is a week away. So in order to help you decide, we’ve assembled a rundown of the biggest and hottest costume trends this year.

Inflatable T-Rex
As countless viral videos can attest, that inflatable Tyrannosaurus rex costume that’s become a thing over the last year will never not be funny. Maybe its all the absurd situations we’ve seen it in (pole dancing, horseback riding, ballet classes, even running the course on American Ninja Warrior) or the comical manner in which it bumbles and bobs about, but it's always hilarious to watch. So much so that you don’t mind forking over upwards of $100 to get one. It certainly hasn’t stopped people from buying it at local shops like Groovy Ghoulies Costumes in Mesa. “It’s been popular throughout the whole year,” says assistant manager Patricia Colomy. “We’ve sold out and reordered it a couple of times now.”

David Bowie
Its been 10 months since the world was robbed of the tremendous talents of David Bowie and we’re still very much in mourning. If you’re feeling the same and would like to offer tribute to the late, great musician, Halloween would be the perfect time to do so, considering his penchant for theatricality and over-the-top artistic flair. And thanks to the sheer multitude of projects (both acting and music-related) that dot his prolific career, there are plenty of potential costumes to choose from. You could mimic the lightning bolt face-paint and glammy hairstyle of Aladdin Sane, go all out to replicate the fantastical look of Jareth the evil Goblin King from Labyrinth, or recreate his dapper look playing Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.

If there’s one thing we can take away from the unfortunate controversy surrounding the new Ghostbusters film (other than the fact that chauvinistic trolling by creepy male geeks is sadly a thing), it's that people still love the supernatural comedy with a passion. Hence the reason why interest in Ghostbusters costumes is big this year, albeit more in the ‘80s version rather than the reboot. “People want to be Ghostbusters,” Colomy says. “But they're more interested in the original costumes instead of the new ones with orange stripes.”

Let’s face it: Everything about Deadpool is cool. Not only an ass-kicking comic book character who sports a rad costume and lays waste to bad guys, the “merc with a mouth” tends to get all the good one-liners. He was wildly popular and oft-mimicked by countless geeks even before the hit Deadpool film from earlier this year raked in a gazillion dollars and made Wade Wilson’s alter ego a household name. As such, prepare to see several Deadpools raising hell and having fun during Halloween.

Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton
Election Day truly can’t get here fast enough for us, especially since it seems like the never-ending battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump dominates pretty much everything. That includes Halloween, as evidenced by the multitude of masks depicting either candidate that are available for purchase at local costume stores. As is often the case with Halloween, some folks will take things to extremes, such as wearing a Clinton mask with a prisoner outfit in reference to the whole “Crooked Hillary” thing or dressing as a Mexican version of Trump for obvious reasons. If nothing else, it would be befitting of the WTF nature of this whole election.

Star Wars
Thanks to the fact that Disney will be busting out Star Wars films annually, the legendary sci-fi franchise will probably be a staple of every Halloween for years to come. (At least until everyone gets sick of the whole thing, that is.) At the moment, people are still going gaga over The Force Awakens, especially for its two biggest characters. “Star Wars is still a big seller for us,” Colomy says. “There’s a more interest in The Force Awakens, definitely with Kylo Ren and Rey. We just got a few costumes in for the new film, Rogue One, and have sold a few of ‘em.”

The obsession over the tragic death of the now-famous gorilla, who was shot and killed by snipers at the Cleveland Zoo back in May, has reached a fever pitch over the last several months. And since certain costume companies have little shame or have never seen a trend or scandal they couldn’t exploit, there are a wealth of Harambe-related items and getups for sale. That includes the “sexy gorilla” outfits or Harambe cardboard masks, as well as more tasteless items like a T-shirt resembling a gorilla’s chest that’s been riddled with bullet holes. Seriously. And if you'd like to get a jump on the holidays, there are already Harambe ugly sweaters available.

Dressing up as characters from the phenomenally successful video game/anime/pop culture franchise has been a thing dating back to its debut in the late ‘90s. (Fast fact: local superstar cosplayer Jessica Nigri rocketed to worldwide fame after wearing a sexy Pikachu costume in 2009.) However, with Pokémon Go becoming a national obsession this summer (with everyone and their mothers playing the augmented reality game), it's guaranteed that tons of people will become anthropomorphized versions of Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Snorlax, or any of the other creatures from the Pokedex. Just refrain from tossing any Pokéballs at ‘em. That’s rude.

Stranger Things
Good news for anyone hoping to put together a Stranger Things costume this year: Most of what you’ll need can be found at local secondhand shops and thrift stores, whether its Eleven's pink collared dress and denim jacket, Barb's ruffled shirt and big glasses, or Nancy's cable-knit sweater. (Or if you want to be the Ouija wall from the Byers’ residence, you can probably score a shirt mimicking the ugly floral pattern of the wallpaper before painting letters on your chest and wrapping yourself with Christmas lights.) The bad news? Everyone else is probably hitting up the same places for the said items. In other words, better get a move on.

Harley Quinn and the Joker
Suicide Squad was an awful movie. Phenonemally awful. Probably the worst superhero movie since either Superman IV: The Quest for Peace or Batman and Robin. Seriously. That said, it was also phenomenally popular (earning in excess of $743 million worldwide) and – for better or for worse – cemented the character of Harley Quinn as a pop-culture icon. So, as we previously discussed, you’ll encounter doppelgangers of both her and the Joker in great abundance at Halloween events this year. While it's understandable if you prefer Margot Robbie’s sparkly, pants-wearing, bat-wielding Harley Quinn from the movie, it’d be cooler (and a lot less exploitative) if you did the OG version from Batman: The Animated Series. Just saying.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.