An illustration of someone thinking of wearing a costume with a mask for Halloween.
There are many costumes that already use masks, or you can create your own. (Illustration by Melchisedech Quagrainie, Columbia College Chicago)

3 Ways To Incorporate Masks Into Your Halloween Costume

With COVID-19 still an active threat, it is important to stay safe while still participating in spooky fun.

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An illustration of someone thinking of wearing a costume with a mask for Halloween.

With COVID-19 still an active threat, it is important to stay safe while still participating in spooky fun.

There are plenty of ways to have a safe and fun Halloween this year. Still, masks are a minimum requirement if you choose to celebrate Halloween outside your quarantine pod.  Thankfully, masks are now available in all sizes and styles, and there are plenty of ways to include masks in your Halloween costume.

1. Instead of wearing Halloween costumes and then adding a mask, be a character that already covers their mouth and nose

There’s the obvious option this year: Go as our heroes, doctors and nurses, and wear a surgical mask. You could take this in a more sinister direction, and dress up as a plague doctor. Go all in on the freaky beak and long black robe. For another historical route, try a WWII-era gas mask. For the “Doctor Who” fans: Are you my mummy?

If you’re more inclined to dress as a scary character, there are plenty that wear sinister masks. While some, like a Jason hockey mask, wouldn’t be safe, there are still many villains that cover their mouth and nose. Darth Vader is a classic that everyone will recognize. If you’re a horror movie aficionado, or classical art fan, go for Scream. For an alternative, cult classic scary character, try Donnie Darko. Another full face option is a Guy Fawkes mask from “V for Vendetta.” If you still want to show part of your face, and be at least partly recognizable to your friends, go as Bane.

Maybe you’re more inclined toward superheroes. Most only cover their eyes, but Spider-Man, Iron Man and Deadpool cover their whole face. The Winter Soldier — Bucky Barnes from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” — covers just his mouth and nose, which makes him unique among heroes and also the safest.

Last fall, “Watchmen” featured masked policemen before the pandemic. Dress up as Regina King’s badass Sister Night or wear the completely reflective Looking Glass full face mask. You could even go with the Rorschach mask, but be sure to clarify that you’re referencing the anti-hero of the original comic book series and not the white supremacists of the TV show. February’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” also had the two women at the center of the story mask up whenever they went to the beach. Wear a corset and braid a long piece of black cloth into your hair for the full effect.

2. Dress up as an iconic pop star mask moment

Celebrities have made the news for their different mask choices. Lana Del Rey’s ridiculous mesh face mask would be an unsafe way to dress. Others have made safe and stunning mask choices. Lady Gaga’s five different outfits at the VMAs would be an excellent costume. It’s hard to choose what’s cooler: the horned mask, electronic speaking mask, pink plastic mask and completely silver mask are all on-brand Gaga and fabulous. Buy a silver wig to complete the look.

While some celebrities are just pairing simple black masks with their outfits, some have begun promoting coronavirus safety in over-the-top outfits on Instagram. Doja Cat wears a banded hot pink mask and leather pants in this post. Or dress as Ariana Grande and copy her athleisure sparkly mask and signature pigtails look in this Instagram post. Lizzo matched her mask to her bikini and gloves in the best look yet. For an easier outfit, copy Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), and wear a Slytherin or Gryffindor mask.

Artists have been wearing masks since before the pandemic. DJs Marshmello and Deadmau5 have their iconic marshmallow and mouse heads, respectively. Daft Punk has their crazy helmets. Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer” era features her in a face mask. In 2019, Billie Eilish wore a mask to a concert. In Future’s “Mask Off Mask On” music video, there are masks abound. At the 2017 BET Awards, the rapper wore matching surgical masks with his daughter.

3. DIY mask

Perhaps you don’t want to go all in on coming up with a Halloween costume that includes a mask weeks ahead of time. It’s not hard to subtly adapt your costume to the times. If you’re more of a DIY-er, create a mask yourself. Find a sewing pattern that works for you and an old T-shirt and match your colors to your costume. If you’re Frida Kahlo, get a floral mask. If you’re going as Cardi B or Megan Thee Stallion in “WAP,” get a mask in animal print. Thoughtfully chosen solid color masks can tie an outfit together as well. If you’re dressing as Harley Quinn, get a hot pink mask. If you’re going as the Joker, bright red or green would work well. “Addams Family” costume? Simple black mask. You could of course buy color matching masks ahead of time, but let’s be real, often a costume comes together the night before whatever event you’re going to.

If you’re a true sewing craftsman, you can elevate your costume by adding new elements to a cloth mask you already own. Scary costume? Sew on chains or spikes. Glamorous costume? Add sparkles or bedazzle the mask. Cute costume? Embroider some flowers. This can get as specific as necessary. A Bob Ross costume would match well with a surgical mask splashed with paint.

If you’re one of those people who throws on jeans and a T-shirt and then finds a TV character who dresses like you, stop being told your costume is lame by writing a catchphrase on a surgical mask. Be Homer Simpson with “D’oh” written on your mask. Or Sheldon Cooper in “The Big Bang Theory” with “Bazinga!” Or, simplest of all: just write “VOTE” on a mask with a fabric marker or Sharpie. After all, Halloween is right before the election.

Hopefully some of these ideas help with a fun, safe Halloween. Whatever you dress as, remember to follow your local CDC guidelines for gatherings.

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