Home Top Stories Halloween costume trends for 2023 include Barbie, pop culture icons, horror movies and more

Halloween costume trends for 2023 include Barbie, pop culture icons, horror movies and more

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Halloween costume trends for 2023 include Barbie, pop culture icons, horror movies and more

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Halloween is near and celebrators are flocking to digital and physical costume shops to find their perfect outfit.

While some may already know what they want to “be” for Halloween this year, others may need help deciding in light of the season’s reported slow start.

“In 2022, we witnessed a lightning-fast start, but 2023 presents a different rhythm. Regardless, the spirit of Halloween remains strong, and we’re confident that this year will deliver its own brand of excitement,” said Gregor Lawson, chair of the Halloween & Costumes Association (HCA), in a statement.

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The New Jersey-based trade organization, which has reached over $3 billion in cumulative sales, released a trend report on the Halloween costumes that are likely to be popular as American consumers make their way into stores.

Here are the Halloween costume categories that might be prevalent amid parties, parades and trick-or-treat outings this year.

Popular costume trends for Halloween 2023

Celebrities and pop culture stars

Just as in other years, celebrities, fictional characters and pop culture icons are inspiring a good number of costumes, according to the HCA.

Left: Barbie Pink Power Jumpsuit, Middle: Jumbo Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Right: Adult Ariel The Little Mermaid 2023

Films could be a source of inspiration for Halloween costumes in 2023, including “Barbie,” “Killer Klowns” and “The Little Mermaid.” (Spirit Halloween)

“These costumes draw inspiration from beloved pop culture figures, reflecting the enduring popularity of dressing up as a favorite character from film, music or television,” the trade organization wrote in its trend report.

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The HCA predicts that Taylor Swift, Wednesday Addams, Super Mario Brothers and The Little Mermaid will be top choices this year.

Swift is making headlines for her ERAS concert tour and her potential relationship with NFL star Travis Kelce.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s original series “Wednesday” (November 2022), Universal’s “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” (April 2023) and Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” live action (May 2023) film were released over the last 12 months.

Barbie

Although some would lump Barbie costumes into the pop culture category, the HCA believes the famous doll deserves a category of her own, given the success of Warner Bros. Picture’s live action “Barbie” movie (July 2023).

Western Barbie and Ken Halloween costumes side-by-side.

The Halloween & Costume Association and Spirit Halloween say Western Barbie and Ken costumes are popular this Halloween season. (Spirit Halloween)

Barbie and Ken costumes will be popular for couples and families, the HCA predicts. 

The Western Barbie costume and Pink Power Jumpsuit Barbie are two movie-inspired options that will likely be go-to costumes for Barbie fans.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Another technical pop culture pick that’s deserving of its own category, according to the HCA, is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise.

The HCA predicts Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael and Donatello costumes will be popular this year given the release of Paramount Pictures’ new animated film, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” (August 2023).

“Whether one is a fan of the new or the classic, the Turtles are poised to remain a Halloween favorite,” the HCA wrote in its trend report.

‘Nostalgia, fantasy and medieval’

Halloween celebrators are also taking a look at history, legends and myths for their costumes, according to the HCA.

Adults at a Halloween party wear costumes while celebrating.

The Halloween & Costume Association says shoppers will seek out costumes in the fantasy, legend and myth category during the Halloween 2023 season. (iStock)

Nostalgia, fantasy and medieval costumes are three themes, says the HCA, that will be popular in 2023 as costume shoppers aim to dress like another era or as legendary figures and mystical creatures.

‘Creepy’ and ‘grim’

Halloween shoppers will turn to traditional scary costumes this year as well.

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“Creepy” and “grim” themes are seeing “a robust resurgence” in 2023, the HCA reports, with celebrators seeking “eerie and haunting” costumes.

Woman paint skull face on boy wearing skeleton costume.

Skeleton costumes will be popular in 2023, says the HCA, as shoppers continue to seek out scary costumes. (iStock)

The trade organization notes that spine-chilling costumes will be popular, especially skeleton and macabre ensembles.

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Spirit Halloween, a seasonal costume, prop and decoration retailer with locations throughout the U.S., said horror movie and video game characters could be top picks this year, according to a press release in late September.

Horror movie antagonists that stand out to the organization include Chucky, Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger, Ghostface, Frankenstein and The Invisible Man (AKA Dr. Jack Griffin). 

Shorty and Jumbo from “Killer Klowns” (1988) could gain traction since the cult-classic film reached its 35th anniversary, according to Spirit Halloween.

'Killer Klowns' Jumbo Halloween costume.

Jumbo from the horror movie “Killer Klowns” could be a popular costume for the 2023 Halloween season in light of the film’s 35th anniversary, said Spirit Halloween. (Spirit Halloween)

Spooky video game characters that may attract Halloween shoppers include Huggy Wuggy from “Poppy Playtime,” an episodic horror game, and Freddy Fazbear from “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” a point-and-click survival horror game.

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Halloween accessories

Halloween costume accessories such as wigs are reportedly experiencing high demand, according to the HCA.

It’s not immediately clear if Halloween accessories are on the rise because consumers need them to complete their costumes or if some are choosing accessories in place of full costumes due to the holiday’s occurring on a weekday this year.

Wigs set on mannequin heads in a store.

Wigs are a costume accessory category that’s seeing high sales for the 2023 Halloween season, says the Halloween & Costume Assocation. (iStock)

The HCA believes Halloween sales are down due to October 31’s falling on a Tuesday.

“Halloween falling on a Tuesday has historically not been the most conducive for elaborate celebrations, prompting some to prolong decision-making,” the trade organization wrote.

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Economic strain and a lack of confidence in costume availability are two other factors that could be contributing to a slower start in costume sales this year, according to the HCA.

The HCA expects to see an uptick in Halloween costume sales throughout October as celebrations near. Overall costume sales could surpass last year’s numbers, it also said.

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, predicts that the 2023 Halloween season will bring in $12.2 billion — and that Americans will spend $108.24 per person on costumes, candy, decorations and greeting cards.

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