Ladies, let's just cut to the chase - a miniskirt, fishnets and some cat ears does not a fantastic or original costume make.
Every year as fun-size Snickers and rolls of Smarties start to fill the shelves of local grocery stores, women everywhere misplace their common sense and decide, "this year I'm going to dress up as a sexy (fill in the blank) for Halloween."
FYI, if something isn't normally sexy, putting your chest on display in a "sexy skunk" or "sexy Patrick Star" costume will not make you look sexy, just desperate.
A lot of women besmirch my favorite holiday by using it as an opportunity to wear lingerie in public, calling it a costume because they added a witch hat or horns and a tail.
Dressing attractively or even flirty is totally fine. It's when bustiers and garter belts come out and the ratio of clothing to bare skin is 10-90 that things just get scary (and not in a good way).
Let's leave the lingerie in the bedroom where it belongs, shall we? Why not just go as Alice in Wonderland instead of sexy Alice in Wonderland.
I'm just a thrifty girl with a keen eye for beauty and fashion. Just ask my friends (and their teenage daughters). They frequently ask to borrow my clothes, teach them how to apply makeup and to advise them on what to wear for special occasions.
More importantly, they ask me how to stay current and fashionable in this economy without breaking the bank. I'm all about finding personal style and accentuating natural assets.
Don't know what goes best with that little black dress? Want to give yourself a facial for mere pennies? Care to score some clothes for free? Your gorgeousness guru is here to help!
Send me your style stumpers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Authenticity always is cooler than a trashed up version of the original.
On a side note: dressing little girls up in sexy costumes is just plain irresponsible.
Children should dress in comfortable, age- and weather-appropriate costumes and avoid drawing the attention of pedophiles. Those creeps don't need any encouragement.
With that out of the way, let's visit the ghosts of Halloweens past.
When I was in third grade, my stepmother decided that I would be Betty Boop for Halloween. So she made me a pictorially accurate short black tube dress with a strip of red sequins at the top and a lacey garter for my leg. The dress stayed on with a wire threaded through the top of the dress. I wore some black high heels.
During the parade at school all the parents and teachers either stared at me open-mouthed or tried their best to avoid looking at me at all as my stepmom, totally oblivious, snapped photos of me and recorded that awkward moment for future generations.
The costume was a completely realistic Betty Boop, down to the dark eyeliner and fake lashes, but way too revealing for an elementary school Halloween parade.
I also couldn't swing on the monkey bars or do cartwheels at recess for fear of someone seeing my underwear.
Later, my soccer team had an end-of-the-season pool party and I couldn't get out of my costume without being cut out of it, so on it stayed.
I just huddled in a deck chair and grumpily scarfed down candy corn pumpkins all night.
Yes, mistakes were made, but I decided that they would not be visited upon my own children.
Last year one of my kids dressed up as Harry Potter. I went as Bellatrix LeStrange and my husband dressed up as Voldemort.
I went all out in my long black lace dress, creepy Goth makeup and a white streak in my wild hair.
My husband completely eclipsed my Halloween commitment to character by shaving his head bald with a razor.
He slathered glue stick and cover-up on to hide his eyebrows and then drew some disturbing veins on his face.
We completely stole the show at the Halloween party we attended later because our costumes were so awesome (and possibly because we were the only adults in costume). You might say we are a little overenthusiastic about Halloween as a family, but truly, what's not to love about getting lots of praise for your group costume and sharing your kids' Halloween haul?
Guidelines for choosing a Halloween costume:
1. Must be practical in regard to weather. It's too cold to trick or treat if dressed as the Little Mermaid or Malibu Barbie in Central Pennsylvania.
2. You must be able to trick or treat, dance, bob for apples and-or sit down comfortably in your costume without it turning into an impromptu strip tease (this goes for guys as well as girls).
3. There is a fine line between playing with stereotypes and being culturally or socially insensitive. There are certain issues that are too sensitive to be fair game for a Halloween costume. If you think your costume will be offensive, skip it. Halloween is about fun, not trying to hurt people.
4. If you decide to go with something really obscure, don't be miffed if no one knows what you are supposed to be and you get asked over and over what your costume is. Just proudly explain it. (For me, Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights - rainbow sparkle wig with firework designs painted on my face and a black robe. All the other girls in my class were dressed as ballerinas or babies. I guess I didn't get the memo.)
Halloween is a chance to be a kid again and have fun, to play dress up and make believe - to pull out all the stops.
Dressing skanky removes that childlike aspect of the holiday. I totally get that Halloween is a time to see and be seen. Try using your brains and creativity to get the Halloween night attention you crave and not the cheap lascivious kind.
McKinney may be reached at diystyle@ sungazette.com.
Her column is published on the second Friday of each month as part of the Lifestyle section's "Fashion Friday" features.