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This Halloween, think outside the bag! With a woman within striking distance of the most powerful office in the world, it’s a good time to celebrate some bad-ass broads — real and imaginary — throughout the ages. Plus, with a little smart online shopping this October, you can easily avoid the usual pitfalls of “sexy” chain store costumes, culturally questionable stereotypes, or just what everyone else is wearing.
Don’t: Generic Flapper
No one celebrated the passage of the 19th Amendment with sequin headbands and polyester tube dresses.
Do! Phryne Fisher
The titular star of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Phryne is one fast-driving, cocktail-drinking, crime-solving, modern Aussie gal. Her Jazz Age style is nothing to sneeze at either, with her penchant for silk dusters, flowing pants, smart hats, and beaded bags.
What to wear: Think elegance and decadence. Wide leg pants, layers of necklaces, and silk blouses, all tied together with something like this fringed coat from Unique Vintage and a well-trimmed cloche hat. Add the classic vamp makeup with a smoky eye and Cupid’s bow lip in a classic bright red.
Don’t: Plain Old Ballerina
She is tutu tired this year.
Do! Misty Copeland
Not only is Misty Copeland breaking barriers in the ballet world by becoming the American Ballet Theater’s first lead dancer of color, but she’s also turning a whole new generation of little dancers on to the grace and strength of the art by picking up endorsement deals that were once only for (other) sports stars.
What to wear: Copeland has worn everything from athleisure to haute couture, so why not mix it up a bit with an athletic piece from her Under Armour line and a sugar plum tutu, like this one from the Etsy boutique Cousins Clothing? Throw on a pair of ballet-inspired flats (here are a few options) and you’re ready to dance all night.
Keep your makeup natural and polished with a glossy lip and neutral eye. Remember, as with all costumes, you can be whomever or whatever you want — but unless you’re going as a mime or an alien, there’s never any need to change your own complexion.
Don’t: Sexy Cowgirl
The West wasn’t won in assless chaps.
Do! Dolly Parton
This rhinestone cowgirl is a savvy businesswoman, multi-instrumentalist, and the most awarded country singer of ALL TIME. She’s basically everything.
What to wear: You can start with the padded bra, but Dolly is so much more! From the mile-high hair (we love any of these big blond bouffants) to the tips of her cowgirl boots, Dolly is all about glitz. Start with some Western flair (Sheplers is a great place for deals) and add on all the rhinestones you can find.
Don’t skimp on the eye makeup, and don’t be shy about color. Also, be sure to paint on her big, beautiful signature pink smile, and dot with a beauty mark.
Don’t: Harley Quinn
More boyfriend issues than Seventeen magazine!
Do! Agent Carter
Sure, we’re talking about two different universes (DC versus Marvel), but if you’re talking superhero GFs, Agent Peggy Carter holds her own with some serious martial arts skills and super spy street cred with or without Captain America.
What to wear: Peggy favors the femininity and glamour of post-World War II dresses and pants in bold colors. They go from the office to beating up bad guys and saving the world with ease. Pinup Girl Clothing is a one-stop shop for retro looks.
For makeup, you’ll definitely want a bold red lip and doe eyes. Start with the aptly-named Espionage Cosmetics Eye Spy Collection, which contains colors named after real-life secret agents.
Don’t: Day of the Dead
It’s very beautiful, but this look falls into a sensitive area, since it takes from a culture’s religious iconography.
Do! Frida Kahlo
One of the 20th century’s most enduring artists, Frida was and remains a legend. She was, of course, also known for an incredible sense of style.
What to wear: Ever the artist, Kahlo considered fashion yet another way of expressing herself; she wore loads of jewelry, peasant blouses, and her signature floral crowns, like the ones available here from indie designer Davoud Collective.
Don’t: Hillary Clinton
We’re with her, but there’s also a serious run on pants suits this season.
Do! Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Notorious R.B.G. is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, legal mastermind, and whip-smart Washington player, all wrapped up in a delicately crocheted collar.
What to wear: In addition to being a learned scholar of jurisprudence, Ginsburg has made her mark by taking judicial robes way beyond the little black dress phase. Of course, there are the signature collars (vintage ones are available easily on eBay) and the tastefully chosen accessories, but what’s under the robes is entirely up to your imagination — maybe a little something like this.