Thursday, November 8, 2012

workday halloween costume

Out of curiosity, what is your workplace's policy on dressing up for Halloween?

I only ask because for two years running the boss at my last job made me pass out candy to local schoolkids during business hours, so I took the liberty of dressing up in a full-blown costume the entire workday.

Working at a museum, however, is a bit different.  People expect you to be eccentric but professional. We are a respected contemporary art and scientific research institute, after all.  And costumes are definitely not considered to be professional outside of a Halloween store.  I did make sure to ask, after my coworkers discovered my steampunk leanings, what the museum's policy was on Halloween.  I was told that people just didn't dress up- that sometimes people wore hats, but rarely, even though there was no official corporate policy against it.

So I took a bit of a risk last Wednesday and decided to use my new vintage pith helmet with a bit of inspiration from the entomology department of Carnegie Museum of Natural History to create a bug-infested field hat:

I hand-stitched a length of tulle around the circumference of the hat.  Using plastic insect toys purchased from JoAnn Fabrics, I then hand-sewed the bugs onto the pith helmet. I Since I did want to remove the bugs without damaging the hat I couldn't glue them.  I tried taping them on, but that didn't work either.  In the end the bugs did manage to stay on securely, although I drew blood more than once and broke a needle in the process of completing this project.

Paired with rather normal workclothes (a turtleneck, dress pants, and a vest) the results of my costuming effort were successful in being mild and not inappropriately showy:

Of course I only wore this helmet at my cubicle, leaving it behind for any forays into the museums proper.  But with the natural history museum's recent BugWorks exhibition and the fact that a scene of The Silence of the Lambs was filmed in the entomology department in the early '90 (where the two "bug guys" who identify the "deathshead moth" are playing chess using a bug as a timer), I think it could have been appropriate work and Halloween attire.

What do you think?


  1. I think next year you need to make a costume based on whatever exhibit is showing then and wear it All Day Long. :D

  2. I worked at a law firm where no one cared. They all thought I was strange anyway, so it didn't much matter. At the University I worked at, dressing up was encouraged - in fact, some departments went all out, decorating and dressing around a theme, trying to outdo one another with their "Open Houses."

    Now I'm at a consulting firm. We're very conservative. There's no policy against it or anything, it's just not something that's done.

    But I wore my spiderweb dress anyway. ;)