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The Evolution of Teen Halloween Costumes: From '80s Chaos to Modern Aesthetic

Halloween, the spookiest and most creative time of the year, is definitely one of our favorite holidays here at phix. But as moms, we cannot get over how much it has morphed since we were kids in the '80s! For those who grew up in the era of flammable costumes and plastic masks that were for SURE a suffocation hazard, the shift in how our tweens and teens approach Halloween costumes is… quite noticeable. Let’s dive into how Halloween costumes have transformed from the days of carefree '80s chaos, where creativity was king, to the modern obsession with group themes and aesthetic perfection.

Photo of Erika and her siblings in the mid 1980s. Erika is dressed as Madonna.

I made the above "Madonna costume from one of my mom’s fabulous shirts left over from the ‘70s, and more glow-in-the-dark gummy bracelets than I care to discuss. I felt like a GODDESS.)


The Age of DIY Creativity

Back in the '80s, Halloween was a time of boundless creativity. We would rummage through our parents' closets, raid the dress-up box, or craft our own costumes from scratch. From ghosts made of old bedsheets to mummies wrapped in toilet paper, creativity knew no bounds. Every kid on the block had a unique costume, as our choices were limited to what you could scrounge up or imagine, and it was a badge of honor to say, "I made it myself."


Three girls in matching silver fringe skirts and cowboy hats with white sneakers

Group costumes- where we're at. Lots of social complexities at play, but still creative and bonding!


Modern-Day Group Affair

These days, the pressure to match costumes with friends is real. It's all about creating themes and coordinating outfits, from a pack of superheroes to the cast of a favorite TV show, to all eras of T Swift. “Aesthetic” has become the buzzword for modern Halloween. Every detail needs to align with the chosen theme. From costume to makeup, and even decorations, everything must be social media-worthy. And the options are nearly endless. Costume stores, online shops, and DIY tutorials are at your disposal. This variety is fantastic, but it also adds a layer of stress, because you're not just choosing a costume; you're defining your personal brand. In our day, we were just all about hitting the streets in vision impairing masks on the hunt for the full-sized chocolate bars. The '80s were an era of fun, messy creativity. Nowadays, it's all about achieving that perfect, curated look. And guess what- they may be going as ‘80s US for Halloween!


The True Spirit of Halloween

While the '80s brought an era of creative freedom, the modern approach to Halloween has its own charms. It's a celebration of community and a time for friends to bond over a shared vision. And for us, it's an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the nostalgia of our youth.

In the end, Halloween has evolved, as we have, from the days of '80s simplicity to the modern age of coordinated themes and group photos. However you choose to celebrate, whether in DIY fashion or as part of a trendy ensemble, the spirit of Halloween remains the same: Embrace imagination, let your creativity run wild, and, above all, have fun!


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