I’m trying to be a bee this Halloween. So I went to Uniqlo to pick up a black, long sleeve turtleneck to go under a yellow-and-black striped number and complete my Seinfeld Bee Movie look. San Francisco’s Bay Area had other ideas: Not only was the Emeryville, California store sold out of the piece, stores in a 40-mile radius were out of stock.
What could account for this shortage? Certainly Steve Jobs and awkward Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson are perennial Halloween hits. But are black, long sleeve turtlenecks this year’s hit costume because of that disgraced tech entrepreneur, Elizabeth Holmes?
Holmes once topped a Forbes list of the world’s youngest self-made female billionaires. She captured the imagination of funders with her blood-testing start-up Theranos valuing at $9 billion before the Securities and Exchange Commission charged her with fraud in March 2018. Holmes’ Palo Alto company promised to revolutionize health care by requiring only a pinprick of blood to run hundreds of tests but it had problems with accuracy and reliability.
There have been books about Holmes, two documentaries, and a movie featuring Jennifer Lawrence as the tech fraudster is expected for release next year. Fascination with Holmes is expected to continue, and with her visibility in pop-culture, her signature look only gets more recognizable on Halloween.
She allegedly wore the garment everyday to work, telling Glamour magazine in 2015 that she owns at least 150 long sleeve black turtlenecks. With her infamous claims about revolutionizing healthcare with a drop of blood, it is simple and straightforward to complete the Holmes look for Halloween—wear a black turtleneck and carry a vial around. But don’t take my word for it. #ElizabethHolmes on Instagram is awash with masqueraders holding bottles of blood. Elle magazine and Refinery29, a digital media outlet, have written guides on how to dress like Holmes this Halloween. Some bloggers have even speculated that Holmes, “motivated by…her ravenous lust for human blood,” is akin to a “vampire.”
Lingering on the Elle article, I saw links to turtlenecks sold by Everlane. Thinking I might be in luck, I found that the women’s cotton long sleeve tee was also unavailable in any size that might fit me. It was possible to order online, but with Halloween just four days away, I wasn’t going to risk it.
Determined to bee myself, I called Uniqlo for answers. The customer service rep kindly referred me to a recent blog post on Halloween costumes achievable with their brand of minimalist fast-fashion finds and suggested that this may be the reason for the scarcity of black turtlenecks. The blog threw out the idea of dressing as an “’80s rapper,” complete with black turtleneck. While I’m not convinced that dressing up as a generic artist from the age of Eazy-E would be that popular, perhaps the alternate outfit underscores the versatility of the black turtleneck itself?
Resigning myself to market forces, I wound up settling on a crewneck long sleeve to complete my entomological ensemblé. I may never know if Holmes is the reason behind my troubles procuring a black turtleneck, but Silicon Valley’s Instagram-popular villain is probably contributing to the shortage. That stings.