2020 has been a year marked by alternatives to in-person social hangouts with many events going virtual, from SDCC to the Emmys. Major gatherings are no longer safe and the COVID-19 global pandemic has led to many party cancellations and postponements. Halloween is going to look very different under these circumstances, but that doesn't mean you can't still dress up to celebrate the spooky season. Whether you're watching horror movies from the comfort of your couch or attending a drive-in, October 31 can still be spent paying homage to the best in pop culture via your outfit choice. Costume parties are still possible over Zoom, and we have plenty of 2020-themed ideas that have nothing to do with the real-world horror show we're all living in.
Below are 15 TV and movie suggestions based on this year's releases, most of which will only require garments you might already have in your closet. Alternatively, you can shop online for any additional items — supporting geek store small businesses is also a great option for these purchases. So while the general mood feels more trick than treat, dressing up for Halloween is one way to temporarily forget reality and embrace this long-standing fall tradition.
Birds of Prey
Harley Quinn's Suicide Squad getup was a big fancy dress hit in 2016, but now it is time to embrace the glitter-infused Birds of Prey costumes. In February, we told you where to shop the Harley look as designed by Erin Benach and while sequins and streamers can be worn all year round, now is an ideal time to embrace the joy of these garments. The caution tape is very on-brand for 2020. A Harley makeup tutorial is an alternative way to serve Birds of Prey for Halloween. Whether rocking a group outfit with your roommates or going solo, there are other options too, including Huntress' leather athleisure or the more dressed up blue suit/bralette Black Canary combo. Make sure to have a platter of breakfast sandwiches for snacks.
This time loop rom-com captures the mood of this year right down to the casual attire that replaces the wedding formal wear. Take your Harley streamer jacket and double it up as a Sarah costume — complete with tinsel earrings to re-wear at Christmas. If you're clinging to summer, Palm Springs is the movie to emulate whether Sarah's jorts and graphic tank or Nyles' Hawaiian shirt. Costume designer Colin Wilkes captures the current mood via grabbing clothes to bring a moment of happiness while also serving a perfect couple's costume idea.
Bill & Ted Face the Music
Sure, you could go old school and rock the DIY teen Bill and Ted threads from the 1989 original installment. But to keep with the 2020 theme, we think Billie and Thea are the ones to emulate this year. Designer Jennifer Starzyk ensured the pair stood out on their own, which includes Thea's signature cassette patch Levi's shorteralls worn with a Hawaiian shirt — in a similar red design to Palm Springs — and Billie's shorts and tie-dye shirt that are perfect for both time travel and just sitting on the couch watching movies. It's a most righteous selection of everyday outfits that won't require too much effort.
The Invisible Man
For the truly low-key and lockdown-perfect costume idea, look no further than Cecilia's Invisible Man sweats. This is the costume made for 2020 — which also happens to be one of the last big releases before theaters shut in March. Grab a slouchy grey sweater, a black tank, black sweatpants, and Nike sneakers to complete the ensemble.
The Old Guard
Taking a break from stretchy waistbands, but keeping with the easily accessible outfit idea, The Old Guard is ideal. Being a warrior for thousands of years means you know what fashion best accommodates the job, which in the case of Andy is a black or grey tee, jeans, and boots. Maybe throw on a chambray shirt (or bomber jacket) and sunglasses for good measure — and fashion a two-handed battle ax if you are feeling crafty. Designer Mary E. Vogt captures the effortless aesthetic and offers an ideal group Halloween costume for fans of the Netflix summer hit.
Mindbending German series Dark came to an end in 2020 and embraced the color yellow throughout. The most recognizable costume of this show is the canary rain jacket and this is a pretty ubiquitous wet weather item. And if Georgie from It has been a previous dressing up choice, it is a recycled costume no-brainer! Another low-energy choice that will be perfect if you are invited last minute to a virtual Halloween affair. A Saint Christopher red string necklace is the kind of detail that will ensure no one thinks you are cosplaying Stephen King's material.
Julie and the Phantoms
Costume designer Soyon An captured the '90s aesthetic in Netflix’s Julie and the Phantoms and this Halloween you can too! There are a few options to explore, from ghost Caleb's decadent bejeweled tails to Sunset Curve merch. Luke, Alex, and Reggie all have accessible style including Rush muscle shirts, pink Champion hoodies, and a plaid shirt/leather jacket classic combo. Julie and Flynn’s closets are stacked with colorful bold patterns and an arm full of plastic jewelry. Plus, the soundtrack is packed with legit bops to add to a Halloween party playlist.
More band shirts, but Hughie and Mother's Milk are more likely to be sprayed with blood — especially post run-in with Lucy the whale. For the easy to grab garments, look no further than the titular Boys and each member has a distinct sartorial leaning. For Kimiko a Bossy ring and blue manicure paired with all-black attire are required, Butcher is also partial to a Hawaiian shirt (an unofficial genre trend of 2020), and Frenchie's French rugby jacket with plaid pants is stylish finale garb. Those in Vought Tower require a lot more suit building, but Ashley's pre-blood-soaked daisy shirt and colorful suits are versatile beyond this holiday.
I Am Not Okay with This
Yes, Netflix unrenewed this charming high school-set show (that was only just getting started) but it can still be celebrated this Halloween. Also leaning into the ‘90s sartorial comeback, costume designer Bex Crofton-Atkins paired the perfect blue suit with an Enya shirt to mix casual with formal for Stan’s standout look — band shirts are big in costume design this year. Alternatively, to add some seasonal gore, Syd’s blood-soaked homecoming dress is a contemporary twist on Carrie. Maybe something less sticky than corn syrup should be used for this effect.
This is another show that covers beautiful garments in gallons of blood — 'tis the season! — so it is your choice whether to embrace the before or after state. Leti's highly enviable '50s closet includes cute halter tops and shorts, summer frocks, and a tasseled number perfect for swinging a baseball bat. Designer Dayna Pink has given a variety of Lovecraft Country options, but it is the graphic print pussy-bow blouse riding ensemble that we're leaning toward and it could then double as Zoom meeting attire — minus the blood, of course.
The Umbrella Academy
Spending the majority of Season 2 in 1963, some of the Hargreeves siblings are embracing the era's aesthetic, including Allison’s cute patterned retro dresses. Meanwhile, similar low-key vintage threads as worn by Klaus could be scored through an online thrift shop — though it might be harder to achieve his dialed cult leader ensemble. Designer Christopher Hargadon also sets a high bar for Halloween looks with the Handler’s elevated frocks and matching hats. No one does this period with more devilish garments than 2020’s best-dressed villain. For a more approachable style, Lila's black leather jacket and head of security pin or Diego's all-black look should be an Umbrella Academy breeze.
The Haunting of Bly Manor
Yes, The Haunting of Bly Manor only just aired but there is a variety of fun ‘80s costumes to recreate at home based on Lynn Falconer’s design. From Dani’s trusty lavender sweater to Jamie’s overalls, there's plenty to love here and this is also a solid couple's costume idea. Again, a lot of these garments are not too hard to acquire, or you might even have a favorite pair of mom jeans to pair with a denim jacket. To add chills to your at-home soirée, a white gown and damp hair should do the trick — though the faceless aspect might be a stretch.
From a show that just premiered to one that aired at the beginning of the year. Even though it feels like it was another time, Sacha Dhawan’s Doctor Who debut was on New Year’s Day. First, he wore a snazzy tux, but the big Master reveal was complete when his purple frock coat and matching plaid cropped pants and vest were unveiled. Attempting this exquisite tailoring is no easy feat, and designer Ray Holman is at the top of his game. But we know Doctor Who fans are a dedicated bunch when it comes to cosplay and this is one of the year’s best costumes to emulate.
Dressing up as a nurse is pretty standard Halloween attire — zombie, vampire, sexy, Kill Bill — but the teal color Ratched costumes are an eye-catching addition to the traditional all-white garb. If you have a nurse costume from a previous year, now is the time to grab some dye and give that garment new life. Fancy dress can be sustainable too! Grab a peach and settle into a Ryan Murphy horror that is preferably not this one.
Wonder Woman 1984
So, it is unclear whether WW84 will land in theaters this year (the Christmas Day release date stands at the time of writing this). Regardless, Steve Trevor didn't do a makeover montage in the trailer for nothing. Grab your fanny pack and best tourist dad shirt to score the minimal effort homage to this forthcoming film. For those skilled costume makers, Diana's new gold wings are up for grabs. Or maybe a fancy white frock didn't get to see the light of day over the summer. In 2020, Halloween is the time to wear whatever you want!