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It’s Halloween with Lightbox, y’all!
It’s Halloween with Lightbox, y’all!

Pop CultureOctober 26, 2018

How to do your 2018 TV Halloween costumes right, according to an actual costume designer

It’s Halloween with Lightbox, y’all!
It’s Halloween with Lightbox, y’all!

Halloween is coming up, and you’re panicking. We know, and we’re here to help. Costume designer Christopher Stratton has your solutions, both easy and not!

As someone whose livelihood is costuming though – I have zero tolerance for boring out of a bag costumes. I also understand that time is a precious, limited resource – so I’m here help you two birds/one stone this problem by doubling your television time as costume research time. 

I’ve done the heavy lifting for you – scouring the Lightbox roster – and offering you up my hot hot tips for a hot hot look come the 31st (or whatever more appropriate weekend evening your Halloween function falls on).

The Handmaid’s Tale

The most iconic and obvious costume for this show is clearly the Handmaid garb itself. The iconic red cape feat the iconic white hat. You already know that hat because you’ve made a joke with it out of printer paper at work. Not judging, just stating the facts.

Here’s the big ol’ but! Between Halloween last year, and the fact that the costume has been used and referenced in several protests worldwide to highlight just how timely the dialogue of the show is, I think this one should be shelved this year.

Let us instead turn to Serena Joy for our Halloween inspiration – rather than focussing on the oppression with a Handmaid look – we can celebrate the slow burn of Serena’s turn from complicity in the Gilead Regime to her disaffection and rebellion. As a plus – you get to wear a cape and gloves.

A much less controversial and but no less stylish option from The Handmaid’s Tale.

If you want to keep the horror alive – and acknowledge the timely political discourse of the show – you can easily add SPOILER ALERT FOR A SHOW YOU HAVE DEFINITELY ALREADY SEEN: Serena’s amputated finger to your look by wrapping your pinky finger into a little bloody stump with some gauze and fake blood.

My other hot suggestion is going as the camera filming the show itself – chuck yourself in a box made of grey cellophane to emulate the colour grade of every episode! The people of Gilead see in muted, filtered tones – why shouldn’t you? It’s high concept, sure, but with the ‘sexy handmaid’ costume being pulled from sale what other choice do we have in this grim world?


This one seems easy. A suit right? The hard part is it can’t be a cheapy – you need to look slick. Harvey slick.

You might wear a suit day at your job – so this one’s a bit boring for you – or if you’re like me and you don’t suit up for work, it’s likely you either don’t have sharp one or lack the cashflow to whip to Barkers and get something tailored together.

Still though – what other option do you have? I think if you are for some reason determined to go reference the show Suits, there’s scarce other options than to head to Sylvia Park and grab whatever updated on trend fast fashion variation of blouse/pencil Skirt is on the mannequins at Zara.

Stylish, but is it Halloween?

So here’s my slightly left of field idea! conversation about the show has been dominated by it’s departed cast member turned Duchess, so you too can dominate the party by arriving in a suit and slipping to the bathroom for a mid party costume change into full Duchess wedding day drama. If you can’t afford Givenchy find yourself some Emilia Wickstead!

How much are you willing to spend on your Halloween gown?

Suits is the easiest option to go from work straight to party. I would hope you at least chuck a Blonde Lob on it and arrive as new cast member Katherine Heigl. We’re glad she’s back on screen.


Between the Scottish Highlands and the UK in the 1940s we are seeing a lot of wool. A LOT OF WOOL. In mainly utilitarian browns and greys. Period appropriate? Yes! But neutrals for Halloween? Absolutely not.

So why would you stick with neutrals though, especially with a second season that takes us to 18th Century Paris, would you choose anything other some French frivolities from the court of Versailles?

Make an entrance this Halloween, you guys!

Master the art of Halloween subterfuge by hosting an Outlander themed party – your guests will all arrive in their best scottish highlands dress – what amounts to dirty ruffled shirts and woollen blankets, or the austerity of a war torn 1940s England in neutral cardigans.

Then, once your guests are assembled and your long suffering partner has kept them entertained while you polish up – you can swan through in your best wig, statement earrings and pannier dress to keep the riff raff at bay and out of your insta posts. You are a rainbow among stormclouds – the Queen of All Hallows Eve.

Fan-ready for Insta!


Another show full of wool, natural fabrics and tones of brown, by which I mean the skin of dead animals. If murdering your dog to tan his skin for fashion isn’t in your wheelhouse, at least grab the old blanket out of his kennel to fashion a tunic. Then, my friends, head to Kmart for a few faux reindeer rugs and some belts. Cut and arrange just so across your shoulders.

(Hot tip: Don’t bother with chain mail – I’ve done it and its heavy. Your shoulders will hurt more than your hangover tomorrow.)

As much as this show is about the clothing – it’s about the HAIR. Statement hair is big in Vikings-land.

You’d think Vikings would be about the pillaging! Well, you’d be wrong. It’s about the hair.

To prepare for a Vikings look ideally you need to stop washing your hair six months ago. Chuck a sea salt spray though it daily – or head to the beach and dip it once every few days. This regime will also help perfect your hard earned grimace and sun kissed skin.

If you’re going femme Vikings – braids. Big braids, little braids, mini braids, braids holding braids. Braids braided into larger braids. You’d think the braids were to keep the hair out of your face but you still need plenty of volume and hair to whip around in the wind – if possible bring a small fan to the party to achieve the constant wind sweep of the harsh outdoors.

Masc but still working the eye makeup!

If you’re channeling the masc Vikings – it’s still about the braids – but add them to your beard too. And shave the parts of your head that you don’t braid.

Guy-liner runs even wilder than it did in 2007 in this world – accentuate the eyes, so that your enemies are drawn to your gaze for a stare off over the canape table. If you’re not at a party with a canape table – leave to conquer another land – there’s nothing for you to gain here.

Don’t forget to roll in the dirt a bit too, like the authentic vikings of old.

The Good Doctor

This one is kinda like easy and low key like Suits (especially if you’re a Surgeon by day) – just scrub up into surgical scrubs! But with so many medical dramas – how exactly does one distinguish which one your costume hails from? Well…

Secret immortal vampire Freddie Highmore.

Freddie Highmore is only three years younger than me – but while my face is slowly melting into the homebrand version of my father’s face, Freddie has the ageless visage of a god damn angel.

So to achieve this one you’re gunna need some preplanning aka the face poison that is Botox. And if you want to push it further, it’s well acknowledged in the show that he skews a bit younger than your typical Doctor – so pop on down to your local dollar shop or LookSharp and grab a bunch of kiddies doctoral instruments, just to really play up the baby doctor dream.

Freddie also boasts the caterpillar eyebrows of my dreams – you have license to fill fill fill with this look!


Brush it off, whack it on, find the hashtag.

You could just use it as an excuse to wear the dress you got from Pagani for your high school ball again.

The Jaquie Brown Diaries

This show served some truly great NZ Fashion, I’m guessing most of which came from Jaquies own wardrobe because she is a damn locally source fashion queen.

For your Halloween inspiraton, I point you to the Karen Walker Fashion Show Episode in Season 1:

Picnic blanket couture.

Recreating the fashion from this episode is breeze! Just grab a picnic rug from your mums car and arrange it just so to recreate Jaquie’s look that is allegedly ‘right outta the pages of Scottish Vogue’. And you’re done, you’ve recreated a look from a two season New Zealand television show from two years ago that should be remembered as some sort of cult hit, but isn’t.

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