What to do About Sexy Halloween Costumes

You may have noticed over the past few years that sexy Halloween costumes are becoming more and more popular with younger and younger girls. Do a Google search for sexy Halloween costume and you get close to 2 million hits – and that’s with the safe search on! And yes, it really is as bad as it sounds. This is from a Washington Post article from yesterday:

Gabby Cirenza wanted to be a referee for Halloween. The outfit she liked had a micro-mini black skirt and a form-fitting black and white-striped spandex top held together with black laces running up the flesh-exposing sides. She looked admiringly at the thigh-high black go-go boots that could be bought as an accessory. And she thought the little bunny on the chest was cute.

“Absolutely not,” said her mother, Cheryl. “That is so not happening.”

Gabby is 11.


Gabby eyed the Sexy Super Girl but decided against it. A friend at her Catholic school had worn that costume for a Halloween parade and pulled the already short miniskirt way up to cover her tummy. “That didn’t look very good.” But Gabby did like the Aqua Fairy, a vampy get-up with a black ripped-up skirt, black fishnet tights and blue bustier that comes in medium, large and preteen. A medium fits a child of 8.


How about the Funky Punk Pirate Pre-Teen, with an off-the-shoulder blouse and bare midriff?


So what, as a parent, to do about this trend? It depends, as does everything really, on your daughter. How old is she?

An 8 year old or an 11 year old you say no to. More to the point, you scout out the stores ahead of time, and only take them places that are selling costumes you would allow them to wear. Why even have that argument when you can avoid it completely?

But what about the older girls, who already know what they want to be for Halloween: sexy! Well, here are a couple of ideas.

  1. Try making her costume yourself – at least you can make the hem line fall to within sight of her knee and the top large enough for a bra to fit under.
  2. Have your daughter make her own costume. The costume patterns you can buy at fabric stores cover far more skin than the pre-made costumes you can buy in most stores.
  3. Try to get your daughter involved with organizing or facilitating a Halloween party for younger children. (Halloween, after all, is really more for children.)
  4. Maybe there are some neighborhood kids or younger family members she can walk around with for the night. That way, she can get the Trick-or-Treat candy, and potentially get paid for babysitting as well! (And aren’t you willing to spend a few bucks to keep her in a child-appropriate costume?)

But mostly, I would suggest that if she really, really wants a sexy Halloween costume, you should sit with her, away from the stores and craziness, and ask her why. What does she see as the benefits of the sexy Halloween costume? (Be sure to use the word “sexy.” Nothing makes something less appealing quicker than a parent calling it “sexy.”)

As with all conversations like this, you need to give her lots of time to talk. If she’s not saying anything to answer your question, just keep quiet and keep looking at her. Eventually, she’ll start talking out of embarrassment. (Just be sure it isn’t you who ends up talking out of embarrassment!) Then really listen to what she says and be open to seeing her point of view, rather than making her see yours. Try to get under her skin and feel what she feels about this sometimes very emotional topic. See if you can find out what it is that she’s hoping to get with a sexy costume.

After you’ve listened and really felt and understood her point of view, start using your imagination. Hopefully the two of you will be able to find a mutually agreed upon Halloween costume that you can both live with.

Be clear – this is not necessarily a solution that you like. But it’s one you can live with.

What are your experiences with your children and Halloween costumes? Do they want sexy ones? How have you dealt with that?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. If you Google those costume names (Aqua Fairy, Funky Punk Pirate Pre-Teen, Sexy Super Girl), you’ll find images of the costumes. Honestly, they weren’t images I felt comfortable putting up on my blog.

  2. My mother wanted to order my daughter’s Halloween costume out of a catalog, so she asked me to look through it and pick one out. I couldn’t find a costume for my TWO-YEAR-OLD daughter that wasn’t sexy, so I ordered a “baby” costume in size 12-24 months instead, a lion costume. It’s a little small on her but she can still squeeze into it. I am shocked and horrified by this issue!

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