Jill Layton
October 22, 2014 7:00 am

I like to be creative with my Halloween costumes. I mean, I’ll buy a store-bought costume if I have to (shout out to my boob costume last year), but if I have the time and energy, I try to come up with some sort of clever costume that will make people laugh. Or at least one that will elicit some high fives. One year, I wore all green, pinned photo-copied money to my clothes (illegal, probably) and applied fake bruises all over my body. I was the economy. Another year, I wore a bicycle tire around my neck and posed with couples wearing couples’ costumes—I was a third wheel.

While a creative costume usually guarantees you’ll be the only one wearing it, it can also guarantee that most people won’t understand it without an explanation (and even then, they still might not get it).

So, if you’re planning on being creative with your costume this Halloween, here are some signs to help you recognize that no one gets your costume.

1. When every single person asks, “So, what are you supposed to be?”

Uh, I’m not supposed to be anything. I am Dumbledora the Explorer. (Awesome costume idea, by the way.)

2. When you get last place in the best costume contest

You and I both know your costume is hilarious and deserves 1st place. It’s not your fault that people don’t get your Shia LaBeouf costume.

3. When little kids are afraid of you, but your costume isn’t supposed to be scary

Old people obviously aren’t scary, but a young person wearing an old-person mask is always strange and kind of uncool.

4. When people take your clever costume literally

“A football-playing wizard? Oh, that’s cool. I guess.” What? No. Wizards don’t play football. They play FANTASY football!

5. When they’ve clearly never seen Cheers

So, they definitely wouldn’t understand your opening-credits-of-Cheers costume.

6. When you can tell they aren’t up-to-date with their pop cultural references

If you wear regular clothes with a name tag that reads “Hello my name is: Not a Hello Kitty,” people who haven’t heard about Hello Kitty’s latest revelation may not get it. But those who get it will definitely high-five you.

7. But if exactly zero people understand your costume, the problem might be the costume

And it’s not necessarily your fault. Some store-bought costumes are really confusing and aren’t even real things.

8. OR they do get it. They just don’t like it

Some costumes just aren’t for everyone. But hey, you should wear whatever makes you feel great. If people don’t get what you’re going for, maybe it’s just over their heads.

Happy Halloween!

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