Ladies and gentlemen, it’s coming. In just a week and a half, you’re going to be faced with a flood of invitations to costume parties, and you’re going to have to find a costume in the spirit of the occasion that doesn’t make you look like a complete doofus. We’re not going to lie to you, it won’t be easy—but we’ve got a few ideas on how to make it through unscathed.

First, a word of advice: you don’t have to do this. Most of our stylish friends have sworn off the holiday entirely, scared away by drunken crowds and the glut of bad costumes on otherwise stylish men. There’s no shame in staying home and watching The Shining with a few non-costumed friends. But if you’re invited to a costume party, you’re honor-bound to come up with something good—and we’ve got some advice to preserve your dignity along the way.

Start With What’s Already In Your Closet
This is one time when “costumey” isn’t a put-down, and if you’ve been keeping up with recent trends, you should have “lumberjack,” “sea captain,” and “Mafia Don” at the ready. The only caveat is to leave your nicest stuff in the closet, on account of the drunken crowds we mentioned earlier, but if you’ve got a loud shirt that doesn’t get much wear, it could be a good place to start.

If You’re Going Big, Go Very Very Big
If you want something a bit more spectacular, it’s time for some research. Don’t just troll the thrift store for an army jacket and call yourself a soldier—dig through online archives until you find an actual set of Navy dress whites circa 1944, buy it off the owner and get it steamed and pressed before you hit the streets. Over the years, our esteemed editorial director has tracked down both jockey uniforms and authentic costumes from Cats. It’s all out there; you just have to get creative in finding it, and be willing to throw down a little extra money along the way.

Stay Far Away From Ricky’s
This one should speak for itself.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom