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Spectre chic: how skeletons became 2015’s favourite Halloween outfit

Amid the troubling news that a dearth of pumpkins is threatening celebrations this year, it’s heartening to hear that we are still embracing Halloween – in the more traditional, dressing-up sense.

And, for the first time, womenswear (if anything involving nylon and taffeta deserves the name) is outselling childrenswear. Maybe that’s because Halloween falls on a Saturday this year, and more people are going out partying.

According to Very.co.uk, sales of women’s costumes are well above those for children. “This year, the ladies’ range has been a massive success,” says a spokesperson. Eight of the top 10 costumes were bought by women, while last year, all 10 were for children).


HM sweatshirt with skeleton print, £5.99.

Sales of Zombie-themed items have rocketed – possibly due to the popularity of The Walking Dead, one of the biggest TV series in the world (and the second most illegally downloaded TV shows after Game of Thrones). But the bestseller on very.co.uk? A skeleton costume for women.

Skeletons are, of course, super-trad. Blame Spectre, with its opening scene, set in Mexico on the Day of the Dead, and whose timely, late-October release may have contributed to an increased interest in traditional Mexican outfits. Ebay says the film may have contributed to a 234% increase in DOTD costume sales.


Emilio Pucci show, autumn/winter 2015, Milan Fashion Week. Photograph: REX Shutterstock/REX Shutterstock

In fashion circles, skeletons make aesthetic sense (not in the way you might think): monochrome is a perennial colour scheme, and a fixture in current season Emilio Pucci and Valentino.

Then there’s the make-up. Corpse-face make-up might not feel terribly accessible, but pallid faces in the spirit of Victoriana were ten-a-penny at Alexander McQueen. Of all the Halloween looks, this is the one that will accentuate your cheekbones – and accentuating cheekbones is the main hobby of the selfie generation; this arguably predated contouring. No wonder last Halloween, Queen of Kontouring, Kim Kardashian, dressed up as a skeleton.

HM rolled out a long-sleeved skeleton T-shirt that sold out after a few weeks – it has even brought out a new style in its wake. ASOS’s Halloween collection, which also features an extensive line of bone-themed pieces, sold out weeks after its September launch.

Halloween outfits may have originated as part of Samhain, a Gaelic festival marking the end of harvest, where Celts would dress up as evil spirits in an attempt to blend in with, and thus stay safe from, “wandering souls” .

Ahead of the trend: Kim Kardashian dresses up for 2014 Halloween celebrations.

In light of the backlash surrounding boundary-pushing, politically incorrect costumes (not to mention the commodification of a traditional and largely US custom), this is positive news. The trend for offensive costumes – from Ebola nurse to Cecil the Lion’s dentist – might be on the increase, but there’s something comforting about a renewed interest in traditionally creepy costumes.

Ebay have also seen a sharp drop in ‘Mean Girls’ costumes (the 00s film parodied the way teenagers wear Halloween costumes) with 60% of Brits eschewing “sexy’ in favour of scary. Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie’s jester-inspired character in Suicide Squad is currently the most searched-for costume on Google – Lyst, an ecommerce aggregator platform, counts 70,000 searches in the last month – suggesting popular culture is as powerful as ever.

Unfortunately, cultural appropriation continues apace. According to the same research, searches for Pocahontas’ suede outfit have increased by 256% in the last month. Some trends, it seems, never die.

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