What the predictions for 2017’s biggest Halloween costumes say about our collective psyche

But why?
But why?
Image: Reuters/Ina Fassbender
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Something wicked this way comes. And probably something a bit sexy, too. Oh, and giraffes.

Halloween 2017 is approaching. To predict what the top costumes will be this year, Pinterest and the fashion search platform Lyst combined analytical forces. Across the two platforms’ pool of 210 million monthly users, they analyzed search data and the looks users saved to come up with their best bets for which getups will be most popular around the world (though obviously these insights are more applicable in countries that celebrate Halloween and dress up for it, such as the US and Canada).

The fantasies we will indulge in when we play dress-up for one night at the end of October are revealing. They arguably serve as a window into our collective psyche, and what we see through that window in 2017 is in some ways predictable, in other ways befuddling.

Here are the top Halloween costumes of 2017, as predicted by Lyst and Pinterest:

1. Pennywise, the clown from It

“Pinterest​ ​saves​ ​for​ ​clown​ ​make-up​ ​and​ ​costume​ ​ideas​ ​are​ ​up​ ​941%” year-over-year, the report notes. The new adaptation of Stephen King’s It has been a blockbuster success, so it’s not surprising that Lyst is also seeing a rise in searches for shirts with exaggerated, ruffled shoulders, and clownish pom-pom sneakers.

Scary costumes are, of course, the mainstay of Halloween. They’re a way to take what frightens us and make it fun—and there’s a lot in the world to be afraid of right now. Clowns have always been the stuff of nightmares, and they’re a go-to analogy in scary political times.

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2. The kids from Stranger Things

Last year, everyone wanted to be Eleven from Netflix’s tween mashup of sci-fi and horror tropes. The show returns for its second season on Oct. 27, just days before Halloween, giving Pinterest and Lyst reason to believe it will be a major costume inspiration again. Pinterest saves on Stranger Things images are up 40-fold, and this time it looks like the boys will be popular costumes too, as suggested by a bump in searches for trucker hats and 1980s t-shirts.

Just like It, Stranger Things follows a group of kids battling a malevolent force bigger than they are. Perhaps there’s something to read into people choosing to embody children who find the plucky courage to conquer their demons? Stranger things have happened.

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3. Belle from Beauty and the Beast

In spring, when La La Land and Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast hit theaters, searches spiked for yellow dresses like those worn by the female leads, according to the report. Tiered yellow gowns like Belle’s became a trend in prom dresses, too, and pins of Beauty and the Beast characters have jumped 680% on Pinterest.

Some made the case that the new Beauty and the Beast recast Belle as a feminist hero. Others dismiss it as glorifying a misogynist version of Stockholm syndrome. Of course, a yellow dress also makes for a pretty costume.

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4. A giraffe

Say what now? “While​ ​sexy​ ​cat​ ​remains​ ​a​ ​classic​ ​Halloween​ ​outfit​ ​choice,​ ​the​ ​giraffe​ ​looks​ ​set​ ​to​ ​be​ ​this​ ​year’s must-have​ ​Halloween​ ​costume,” the report states. Searches for “giraffe print” are up 27% since June on Lyst, and Pinterist pins of giraffe makeup and costume images are up 1,200% versus this same time last year.

It seems clear what’s going on here. We are running out of animals to make sexy.

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5. Wonder Woman

Searches for “red corset” are up 115% year-over-year on Lyst, while Pinterest users currently have more than 230,000 Wonder Woman costume ideas saved. The impact of the hugely successful Wonder Woman movie in June is obvious.

OK, so clearly our collective psyche is cluttered with TV shows and movies. But also, don’t we all want to be more powerful? Superheroes are a classic Halloween staple. It doesn’t hurt that a Wonder Woman costume is easy to replicate at home.

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6. Characters from Game of Thrones

If you’ve already had enough of people dressing up like Daenerys Targaryen from HBO’s ratings steamroller, maybe you should stay inside this Halloween. Searches on Lyst for Grecian gowns are up 30%, and hundreds have been skipping style descriptions altogether and just looking for “Daenerys.” Meanwhile, Pinterest saves for “Jon Snow” are up 280% versus last year, suggesting you’ll see more of the bastard king of the North this year. (Spoiler: He’s not really a bastard anymore.)

It’s not a terrible shock that a show with elaborate costuming that happens to be one of the biggest things on TV is a Halloween inspiration. This is perfect escapist-fantasy material: Women can feel glamorously powerful as Daenerys; men get to be sensitive tough guys as Jon. (A helpful hint for them: Those gnarly Night’s Watch capes are actually IKEA rugs.)

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7. A Baywatch babe

The reboot of the franchise was widely panned by critics, but apparently that hasn’t stopped people from wanting to dress like a lifeguard. Baywatch-related costume ideas have grown 147% on Pinterest versus last year.

What motivates people to wear a skimpy red bathing suit outside as a costume in late October? It’s probably not a devotion to coastline safety. We just hope the collective psyche brings a coat.

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8. A hippie

Lyst says it’s seeing items such as round sunglasses and flower crowns selling out, and “hippie outfit” ideas are up 130% on Pinterest.

While hippies are perennial costume fodder, this surge in popularity also coincides with the rise of the Silver Lake shaman. Wellness-loving LA hippies are the new Brooklyn hipsters, and those teashades might not just be for Halloween.

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9. A unicorn

The unicorn trend has been growing for years. The mythical beast is no longer just a single-horned horse. Its Instagram-friendly swirl of sparkles, pinks, and blues is coloring everything from makeup to Starbucks Frappucinos. Unicorns were the top saved costume on Pinterest last year. This year, queries including the term “unicorn” are up 110% year-over-year on Pinterest, and up 130% on Lyst since May. “Unicorn headbands are the most wanted unicorn fashion product globally right now,” the report says.

The draw seems to be childlike positivity and magical thinking, allowing people see themselves and the world through rose- (and cobalt-) colored glasses. The unicorn’s newest magical power is to gather “likes” online.

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10. A mermaid

Pinterest users have saved more than 1.4 million images of “mermaid leggings,” and Lyst users have searched for the term 8,000 times per month since July.

Closely related to unicorns—aesthetically and philosophically, if not zoologically—mermaid products are shiny, colorful, and a long-tailed trend across beauty, clothes, and food (see mermaid toast). They’re similarly about giving yourself up to a world where all things are multicolored, magical, and really pop on a phone screen.

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