Classy (Not Trashy) Halloween Costumes

Classy Halloween costumes

If you love to dress up for Halloween but are discouraged by the increasing amount of gaudy costumes marketed to women, you may appreciate tasteful costumes that are beautiful – and perhaps subtly sexy, too. Everyone has a different threshold for how much skin they want to show or how extreme they want to go. Not only that, but knowing where you’ll wear your costume and what temperature you’ll be in is an important consideration! Based on the majority of Halloween costumes marketed to women, you’d think that every costume-wearing woman lives in a tropical climate. So unless you’re going to be in a climate-controlled indoor space, the amount of exposed skin is just as much about your physical comfort as it is about your personal comfort. In any case, if dressing up as an over-sexualized policewoman isn’t for you, there are plenty of classy Halloween costumes to choose from instead.

What Classy Halloween Costumes Are and Are Not

Classy Halloween costumes are chic, elegant, and flattering. They are sexy because they are attractive, not because they are Halloween-marketed stripper costumes (there is a difference). Another way to look at it: when you dress yourself to go to work, you may look beautiful and sexy simply because you style yourself well and accentuate your unique beauty. When you buy a costume to look like Cleopatra, you will probably also look beautiful and sexy because you will look like an Egyptian queen version of yourself. Whereas when you buy a ‘sexy Cleopatra’ costume, you will look like Cleopatra of the night. And maybe this is what you’re going for! But understand that there is also a such thing as looking sexy because you look great, not because you look like you the masculinized, pornography industry’s version of sexuality. So classy Halloween costumes are sexy in a beautiful, feminine way.

Choosing Your Look: Thirteen Ideas

What is your favourite story? Movie? Era in history? Industry? Culture or country (yet, do be aware of cultural appropriation)? Character? Wherever you draw your inspiration, there is probably a costume for that. And if there isn’t, make one! It is typically more affordable and flexible to piece together a costume on your own. Below are thirteen options for classy Halloween costumes.

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1. Cleopatra (historical figure)

Cleopatra is a classic cultural figure from the captivating era of ancient Egypt. She is sexy, stately, and historically significant. As a fourth grader, I dressed as Cleopatra for Halloween and won a costume contest at school. It was always my favourite costume and so I dressed as Cleopatra again a few years ago in this gold Cleopatra costume. While it’s comfortable, it doesn’t provide much warmth. This much higher-quality and fabulously hand-made black Cleopatra costume covers more skin, which all Cleopatras will appreciate in cooler weather!

This white Cleopatra costume (which also comes in burgundy) is reviewed to be of superior quality and even more impressive in person. Or choose this high-quality handmade white Cleopatra costume (so many pretty options)! Top off whichever costume you choose with a blunt-cut wig.

2. Ancient Greek (historical era)

Don a handmade Greek goddess toga available in multiple colours. Or opt for a slightly simpler Greek goddess toga with a thinner sash, also available in multiple colours. I wore this flattering and comfortable Spartan Queen costume one year and loved it. It is, however, a chilly one due to the back being entirely exposed, so best for warm or indoors environments.

This intriguing organic cotton Greek goddess gown is a more natural-looking alternative to other costumes. With its unique ancient Greek-inspired design on the torso, it’s a high-quality and beautifully designed costume. In fact, it’s the sort of dress you can wear to other occasions, too! You can order it in either beige or bronze. Crown any of these costumes with a beautiful gold leaf goddess headdress.

3. I Dream of Jeannie (TV character)


Who doesn’t love ‘I Dream of Jeannie’? Even if you never watched the show, Jeannie is such a fun and likeable character it’s hard not to adore her. So for Halloween, check out a few of these Jeannie-inspired finds.

While it’s difficult to find a Jeannie costume that looks truly authentic to the original, I’ve found a couple that make a cut and a couple more that pass as similar renditions. This one looks close to authentic, and while I have not tried it, the review photos look fabulous and it does look comfortable.

If you are a huge Jeannie fan with a couture heart (and budget), this made-to-order couture Jeannie costume is an incredible find! Unlike mass-produced costumes sold in set sizes and made with cheaper materials, this costume is made to fit your measurements and looks nearly identical to our beloved TV star’s actual uniform. You can also find another customized Jeannie costume that is likewise high-quality couture. It can be made in green, too, if you want to be Jeannie’s evil sister. Customers have also raved about this made-to-order Jeannie costume, another gem.

An alternative costume is one that doesn’t look quite identical but is recognizable enough, and can also serve as workout apparel (versatility!). This fitted Jeannie-inspired top can be worn as a costume or for a morning jog (along Cocoa Beach, of course). Wear it along with these Jeannie-inspired leggings to complete the look. They aren’t harem pants, but the design is clearly Jeannie!

Finally, this Jeannie-inspired costume isn’t an exact rendition but it’s cute, reviewed to be high-quality, and easy to complete with any number of sheer pink scarves.

4. Poison Ivy (Batman character)

The formidable Poison Ivy was portrayed by Uma Thurman in the 90s film Batman and Robin. Her role is iconic and perfectly poisonous. Play the part in this intricately hand-made Poison Ivy corset costume that includes a leafy green corset, shorts and gloves. Another great hand-made option is this Poison Ivy bodysuit costume that is reviewed to be very comfortable and also includes a vine of artificial ivy to wrap around your body, one for your arm, and leafy hair accessories.

An alternative to buying a whole costume is to put one together yourself. If you have access to ivy, you could snip a bunch and wrap it overtop of green leggings and a green leotard. You could alternately buy fake ivy from a craft store. Or snag these fun leafy Poison Ivy eyebrows and Poison Ivy choker. Regardless of the source, if you are industrious enough, this can be a pretty low-cost costume. Still, if you aren’t feeling particularly crafty or are strapped for time, this Poison Ivy costume costs less than the higher-quality handmade ones and is a pretty cool rendition of the character.

5. Old Hollywood (historical era/industry)

Marilyn Monroe

Ah, the glamor of Old Hollywood. Think of actresses in the 1930s with long, silky evening gowns and a big fur stole with long white gloves. Talk about classy Halloween costumes! All you need to create this grand look is a long, beautiful gown, long silky gloves, and a stole or feather boa. Paint your lashes black (or opt for false lashes), your lips red (or a fun pink), and leave a trail of kisses wherever you go in your glamorous getup.

If you want to go all out, wow them in this incredible Old Hollywood satin robe dress. It’s glamor galore! For a slightly different style, get fancy in this blush velvet robe that customers rave about. Elegance and regality are what Old Hollywood is all about.

For a more casual grace, make it a daytime romance with this custom-made Grace Kelly-inspired dress. It is beautifully structured and figure-flattering. For a similarly gorgeous look, don’t pass up this equally casual yet perfectly elegant custom-made black dress.

6. Skeleton (traditional Halloween character)

Skeleton costumes are Halloween classics! Depending on how anatomically realistic you want to look, options range from this simple skeleton costume I adore to this more detailed skeleton costume. The nice thing about these stretchy body suits is that they’re comfortable, flexible, and sometimes they glow in the dark like this purple skeleton costume! You can easily dance, jog, do yoga, or do just about anything while wearing this costume. But a super fun alternative to the classic skeleton bodysuit is a skeleton dress. You’re less likely to see this more feminine-style skeleton costume, and it’s a great way to glam up your getup. While less mobile (jogging may be trickier), it’s certainly no less comfortable.

7. Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians character)

Cruella de Vil is a famously fabulous villain, especially in her recent live-action debut. Since this character’s style is so easy to DIY and so classically awesome, it’s a fun and popular choice. You can throw together the pieces to make the costume yourself, or find a Cruella-themed dress like this great plus-size Cruella de Vil costume.

Cruella’s signature look is her black and white hair. While you could always dye your hair half black and half white, an easier alternative is to get a good Cruella de Vil wig. I was happy enough with this wig, but depending on your style, there are many other options. You could role with a punk rock Cruella wig, or don this wavy wig with bangs à la Emma Stone.

The dress is the easiest part. You just need any black sleeveless dress. What’s more important is to include a faux fur coat or at least a stole. You can’t be Cruella without something that at least looks like fur. Though Cruella’s stole was traditionally white, this dalmatian-print stole fits the role perfectly. And a sexy pair of long red gloves add fantastic volume to the look. Apply plenty of red lipstick and green eye shadow, and maybe accentuate your cheekbones to provide definition. To really get detailed, add jade earrings and a ring. Carry a fake cigarette holder, and dahling you can’t go wrong!

8. Princess Jasmine (Aladdin character)

Princess Jasmine

Princess Jasmine is such a fun Disney princess. She’s delightfully sassy and assertive, and her style is stellar. While her midriff top is cute, it shows a little more skin than many women prefer (after all, Octobers get cold in many places where Halloween is celebrated!). This long-sleeved Princess Jasmine costume only shows a little midriff and is very elegant.

For a gorgeous rendition of the character’s garb, check out this handmade sparkly Princess Jasmine costume complete with jewels as well as this Princess Jasmine costume.

Most Jasmine costumes take some creative liberty, which seems completely appropriate given how pretty and yet still recognizable they all look. This embellished Jasmine costume is a fun example, as well as this Princess Jasmine outfit that also comes in burgundy. Another gold-embellished Jasmine costume also serves as a great example of veering from the exact script while still resembling Jasmine. And if you don’t mind bearing some leg with open-slip harem pants, this simple Jasmine costume is a beautiful version as well. There are many variations of Jasmine costumes, but they share a similar iconically gorgeous Arabian style.  

9. Medieval woman (historical era)

If you know anyone who’s worked at a Renaissance Festival, talk to them about where they find their garb! Medieval culture is a big niche with plenty of popularity that keeps costumes varied and plentiful. It’s easy to find medieval gowns of various prices from a variety of sellers, including thrift stores. I once found a pretty pink princess gown at a vintage shop. Comb through any thrift store – they often have costume sections.

The nice thing about this time period’s fashion is that the sleeve and skirt length are almost exclusively long so you can more comfortably wear medieval dresses outside in colder climates. Whether your look is a more regal one or whether you prefer a casual Medieval corset dress for a simpler vibe, you shouldn’t freeze!

10. Flapper (historical era)

The Roaring 20s (unlike covid’s boring 20s) is another era that remains aesthetically popular. It’s remembered fondly for American post-war economic boom (before the 1929 economic crash, that is) and the changing social norms and apparel of women. Flapper dresses are timeless and classically stylish as shown by their influence on modern formalwear. For this reason, you’ll find no shortage of flapper garb online and in many vintage and thrift stores.

Don’t pass up this stunning handmade flapper dress in gold detail. You will dazzle the crowd in decadence! Equally charming is this handmade sequined flapper dress. Find more flapper dresses, accessories and shoes from its maker at her 20s-themed shop called Analisa Deco. Whichever flapper costume is the one for you, top it off with a fake cigarette holder and some long gloves, and you’re ready to party!

11. Black widow (spider – traditional Halloween)

Not to be confused with the Marvel character, this Black Widow costume represents the actual spider. It’s less glamour and more playful, and reviewed to be very well made. My bets are that you won’t see another costume like it, whatever you do this Halloween!

Costumes can be expensive. But if you check the clearance rack in party stores, you can find some good deals. I found a Black Widow costume many years ago that remains comfortable and flattering. A classic Halloween find for under $15, it included a black halter gown with red midsection and gold and black spiderweb cape. Create your own with a black dress (or leggings and leotard/bodysuit), thick red sash, and a black lace spiderweb poncho. You could also drape this handmade crochet spiderweb dress overtop of a red dress. Add a black widow fishnet veil for dramatic effect, and nobody will have to guess your costume! To finish your ensemble, choose from plenty of great black widow spider jewelry.

12. Victorian woman (historical era)

Like medieval costumes, Victorian costumes are usually warmer and so easier to wear in colder temperatures. They couldn’t show too much skin, after all! This grand Victorian gown will make you belle of the Halloween ball. For a simpler number with that classic Victorian collar and structured shoulders, look no further than this classic three-piece Victorian skirt, blouse and sash. For a fancier gown available in several colours, play the part perfectly in this ornate Victorian gown. If you’d rather be a Victorian pushing boundaries into the early twentieth century’s fashion, wear this delicate lacy dress that’s also available in a few lovely colours. And for a bold colour pop, this stunning blue dress is a fun and simple rendition. Don’t pass up this perfectly matching and adorably unique blue rose choker!

13. Witch (traditional Halloween character):

And finally: the witch! The witch is the most popular Halloween costume and also the most versatile. There are as many versions of a witch costume as there are increasingly new pumpkin-flavored foods that debut every October.

Advert for pumpkin spice motor oil
From Consumer Reports October 2021 issue

You can be a playful purple witch, a fun orange polka dot witch, or an orange and black witch. You can be an old-fashioned looking witch in almost-creepy Pilgrim-style. Wear a stylishly cute witch dress with sheer cap sleeves, or don a classically simple and plain witch costume.

You can also DIY a witch costume by putting on any dress you love and topping it with a witch hat. These you will find in many splendid styles. Check out this fancy witch hat with a mini skull, this dramatic fringe witch hat that will sashay with every head turn, or this festive witch hat with an orange bauble. Plenty of options here!

14. And More

While this concludes our list (for now), there are plenty of other ideas for classy Halloween costumes. Holly Golightly, a vampire, and circus ringmaster name just a few. Whatever you choose, if you can’t find it, you can find ways to make it! And when searching for Halloween costumes to buy, remember there is a clear difference between sophisticated sexy and ridiculously raunchy. You can always and absolutely be gloriously sexy and sophisticated in your Halloween costume. Let’s reclaim ‘sexy’ for what it’s really worth. And be sure you are comfortable and feel fabulous!

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