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The Dartmouth
May 26, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Barbie, Ken and Betsy Ross? Students Share Their Halloween Costume Inspiration

Students prioritized convenience with their costumes this year, trying to balance looking cute with being clever.

The Dog Day Players perform at Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity last week during DREAM\'s Halloween Carnival.
The Dog Day Players perform at Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity last week during DREAM\'s Halloween Carnival.

On Halloween night, many students scrambled to pull together a last minute costume, while others had their costumes planned for months. The Dartmouth interviewed a number of students about their costumes and inspiration for Halloween this year.. 

This year, Halloween fell on a Tuesday, which meant that some students planned multiple costumes to wear both the weekend before and on Halloween day. Lauren Harteveldt ’26, dressed as the Three Blind Mice, a mermaid and a Cheeto. She said the idea to be a Cheeto struck her because of its relative lack of prevalence in traditional Halloween costumes. Harteveldt believes that people’s costume choices come down to the balance of ease, looking good and being fun and individual. 

“Convenience is a big factor. Some people don’t want to buy new costumes,” Harteveldt said. “I also think, in college, we get the aspect of looking cute playing a more significant role, but people also want to be unique and silly.”

Especially amidst a busy Dartmouth term, having a quick and easy costume lies at the forefront of many people’s costume choices. Quentin Proud ’26 said he likes to be more spontaneous with his Halloween costumes, prioritizing convenience over quality. This has led him to become resourceful in his costumes, a trait exemplified by the fact that Proud dressed as an NFL player for most of his childhood and 

“It just happens every year that there’s [a population of] men wearing some sort of tank top,” Proud said. “It requires very little effort, which is big. I think there’s very little inspiration that goes into [Halloween costumes], at least among me and my peers. It’s all about convenience and looking good … Those are the two pillars.”

In addition to convenience, how other people view the costume plays a major role, according to some students. For Cartel Bartel ’27 others’ positive reactions are an indicator of a successful costume. He also cited pop culture and tradition as the main influences behind people’s costume choices — he dressed as the Joker in a Batman themed-group with friends.

“I think there are two driving forces behind costume selection,” Bartel said. “Number one is pop culture, which is where Barbie and Ken come into play — something that’s in right now. But while you might see some Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce duos [this year], I also think that people like to go with the classic Halloween outfits like superheroes, good group costumes [and] movie characters.”

Another student, Kabir Beotra ’26, also looks to relevant pop culture for Halloween inspiration. His first costume of Halloweekend, Barbie and Ken, certainly fits this description following the popular release of the Barbie movie this summer. 

“I feel like I knew that everybody was going to be Barbie, so I kind of enjoyed doing that,” he said. “It’s fun because I like blending in one night.”

However, modern pop culture references aren’t the only avenue for a great costume — history can provide inspiration as well. Ellie Stevens ’26 said she dressed as a modern version of the historical figure Betsy Ross for her costume. 

“I have always loved American history … I like historical references, I like being funny and I like being niche,” Stevens said. “I think trying too hard to be different is corny and defeats the purpose, but I do think any references to any sort of literature or historical event are really funny. I think the value of a costume lies in being true to yourself.” 

Her costume collaborator, Evvy Rattray ’26, who dressed up as Ross’s creation, the American flag, emphasized the importance of not taking oneself too seriously. 

“I don’t think I would particularly enjoy showing up to a party and someone being the exact same thing as me, especially if it’s something really niche like this,” Rattray said. “What’s ultimately important for me is being silly.”

Some students also prefer handmade costumes, rather than store bought ones, such as Anna Salafsky ’26. Although she was still uncertain of her intended costume this Halloween when she was interviewed, she pointed to DIY creativity as her primary inspiration when choosing a costume. She also believes Tik-Tok plays a significant role in achieving this, citing the app as where she has found costume ideas from previous years. 

“I love those costumes that are very themed and very DIY,” Salafsky said. “I love when people do some elaborate thing, but they’ve put in a lot of work with random material that they’ve gathered, and the vision comes to life. Tik Tok makes it easy for creative costumes to spread and reach a lot of people.”

Though these students have prepared a variety of costumes, the threads of pop culture influence, convenience, construction and public appeal all affect how Dartmouth students celebrate the holiday. Whether it’s Barbies and Kens this Halloween or even Betsy Ross and the American flag, every costume has a role to play in making Halloween a fun celebration.