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Sexy (or as some would say, "slutty") Halloween costumes for women are so huge and the market so extensive that it has crossed over from titillating to laughably mundane. Sites like Yandy, ForPlay, and even Halloween Express are littered with enough Sexy Minions, Sexy Chewbaccas, and Sexy Big Birds to ruin just about anyone’s childhood. Traditionally, these costumes allude to their original characters while barely covering the bathing suit area, making many young women susceptible to a late October chill.
But if you look in the men’s sections on these websites (if they even have one), their costumes have more coverage area than what AT&T boasts in their ads. If a woman wants to go as Sexy Belle, she can find a yellow dress that forces her to shave all the way to her cervix. For her boyfriend to go as a Sexy Beast, the costume is a full suit with padded muscles and gloves. The only skin showing is above the neck. Any effort to make a traditional men’s costume — firefighter, lumberjack, convict, doctor — a little more sultry usually consists of just removing the sleeves and welcoming everyone to the gun show.
However, guys aren’t standing for it anymore. Between the steady rise in all Americans exercising more frequently, young men headed to the gym in record numbers (according to a UK study), and Instagram-related fitness inspiration, we have a perfect storm of guys who want to show off what their mommas (and all of those bench presses and squats) gave them. This is especially true during Halloween, the most Instagrammable of holidays.
"When I would look at photos on social media, I can see people wearing what we make," says Janet Teller, the vice president of design at 3Wishes, a website that sells lingerie and sexy costumes that is rapidly expanding its more salacious offerings for guys. "When you see pictures from a frat party, the guy didn’t button his police shirt, or he cut his sleeves off. He would take the toga we sell and shorten it. We’re addressing a market that definitely was already there, but they just weren’t being designed for."
She’s right. Anyone who has ever been to a gay Halloween party will tell you that a majority of buff dudes are stuck being a gladiator, a superhero, or something they came up with themselves that involves no shirt, pants as tight as possible, and some type of hat. (I swear to sweet Judy Garland’s ghost, if I ever see another Sexy Gladiator at a gay Halloween party, I might just marry a woman.)
"Most of the costumes for guys are a cowboy or a pirate," says 3Wishes CEO Caron Spatola, who founded the North Carolina-based company in 1998. "There is not much sexy for men out there at all. About four or five years ago, that is really when the design process started where we focused on men." Spatola saw that they were selling more and more costumes for dudes and that male customers were on the rise year over year. Since Americans already spend $3.1 billion a year on Halloween costumes, according to the National Retailer’s Federation, when there is a hole in the market, it should be filled very quickly (which is maybe not the best metaphor to use when talking about sexy Halloween costumes).
We reached out to Yandy and ForPlay to see why they don’t offer skimpier costumes for dudes, and they didn’t get back in touch. Maybe that shows how little they care about the market for men.
This new push toward men who want to be objectified as equally as their female counterparts has led to quite a few new costumes for 3Wishes. There is the Sexy Peter Pan, called the Fairyland Leader Costume to avoid any copyright problems, with velvet short shorts and a low-cut velour top to better show off the pecs and whatever chest hair that hasn’t been shaved in an attempt to play a tween who never wanted to grow up. Naturally, there is a pointy green hat with a red feather, just so everyone will know who it is.
Turner took some inspiration from two hot guys dressed as Batman and Robin at the infamous West Hollywood Halloween Parade for the Superhero Sidekick Costume, which includes, again, shiny green hot pants and a red Spandex top held together with a few yellow ties — as if the fabric can barely contain the power of the abs lying beneath.
3Wishes’s toga, one of its most popular costumes, has been cut considerably shorter than in the past and comes off one shoulder so that a well-defined chest can be easily ogled. For those not afraid of wearing very little (and some possibly racial overtones), there is a Native Mens Loincloth, which is, well, two tiny slips of polyester tied together with nothing connecting them underneath. One must admire the restraint of not calling it Poke-A-Hot-Ass. At $18.95 (including free shipping but not the cost of a gym membership or all of the supplements needed to pull it off), it’s totally a steal.
Spatola says that she’s not afraid of exposing guys even more than the brand already does. She’s found that the skimpier the costume is, the better it sells. There are other sites with dude costumes that get even raunchier, like CandyMan and ABC Underwear. Those costumes (which are also available on 3Wishes) are essentially just a pair of underwear with an accessory, like sailor-themed undies and a sailor hat or tuxedo underwear with cuffs and a collar, á la Chippendales. It’s the kind of thing that might fly in the bedroom but might be a little too risqué for even the filthiest masquerade. We reached out to inquire more about their design process and how the business is going in this new golden era of slutty dude costumes, but neither company got back in touch (and they certainly care about the slutty male market).
Just like sexy costumes for women, Spatola wants to focus on recognizable characters and pop culture fixtures that we all love. For example, both she and Teller are especially proud of a Pinocchio costume coming out next year. In another act of extreme restraint, it does not feature a growing body part in its design.
Teller got a degree in costume design and helped start the sexy costume boom of the late ‘90s working at LA custom retailer Trashy Lingerie designing costumes for Halloween parties at the Playboy mansion. She says that each year, Spatola comes to visit her in Los Angeles and they take a trip to the fabric store and pick up all the materials, embellishments, and patterns they think could make for good guy get-ups and spread them out on a huge table. From there, they just start brainstorming and coming up with ideas and Teller starts sketching out what the costumes could look like. Spatola says, "We sketch and have fun and I always ask how we can sex it up. That’s what I’m always saying."
Prototypes are made in the company’s factories in Los Angeles and Colombia, and models try on all the new looks. (At a factory in Colombia, when the fit model didn’t show up, they enlisted the help of a hunky warehouse worker for the afternoon.) The women then make final adjustments and either send them to be manufactured or kill the idea. Spatola says that they come up with 30 ideas each season and about 15 of those are scrapped or put aside to be retooled the next year. Spatola says that right now, about half of the men’s costume offerings on the site are made in-house and about half by outside suppliers. She’s trying to get that ratio to 70 percent versus 30 percent.
According to Spatola, about 20 percent of her customer base right now is men, but optimistically adds, "Ask me again in a year." She says most of the people buying sexy costumes are younger guys, about 50/50 gay and straight as far as she can tell. The gentlemen are from all over the country. They sell particularly well internationally, better than even the women’s costumes. But neither Spatola nor Teller are shy or apologetic that these costumes are meant for guys who know their way around a gym — or Barry’s Bootcamp, or SoulCycle, or whatever fitness craze we’re currently chasing.
"I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but it’s so much easier to design for a perfect body," Teller says. "That’s the way I work for 3Wishes with women too, this idealized physique. I have no problem thinking of beautiful chest and arms and legs and how to decorate it. It’s super fun." As for how to make these costumes sexy, it’s very similar to the women’s costumes, about accentuating the parts of the anatomy people find attractive. While there might be some physical differences between the sexes, going tight and skimpy is pretty much the right way to go for either gender.
As for what costumes they’re looking toward making, both women want to stay away from the traditional cowboys, cops, robbers, and other things and focus more on characters (and, like most other sexy costumers, wiggle around copyright laws). Spatola says that they’re always looking for companion pieces to the women’s costumes that they can market as sexy couple sets. But she’s also well aware of just how ridiculous some "sexy" costumes can be.
"It does get out of hand really quickly," she says. "I think you try to find characters that will be ones that people want to be. I don’t know how many people want to be a Sexy Pineapple at the end of the day."
Ironically enough, that is what equality looks like, not men and women both dressing as something sensible and demure on October 31st, but quite the opposite: a woman dressed up as Sexy Batman with her Slutty Robin standing right next to her.