‘Sexy mail-in ballot’ and ‘sexy hand sanitizer’: 2020 Halloween costumes have arrived
You know what turns me on? Banana bread. And hand sanitizer. And candy corn, apps I can’t download and murder hornets. Oh, and I think I’m getting all hot and bothered by the mail-in ballot sitting here on the corner of my desk waiting to be slipped out of its security envelope.
OK, I don’t actually find any of those things sexy, and chances are you don’t either. In the hands of the folks at women’s intimates etailer Yandy, though, the mundane and frequently inanimate pieces of hot-topic popular culture become slinky, skin-baring, curve-hugging, barely-there Halloween costumes. (It should come as no surprise that this year the Phoenix-based company was snapped up by Playboy Enterprises.)
Can we safely celebrate Halloween this year, in the midst of a pandemic? Gatherings aren’t safe, and do you really want your children knocking at doors, begging for candy and grabbing from the same bowl? Americans stuck at home have plenty of time to come up with some creative — and safe — solutions.
While form-flattering pop-culture costumes have been in the merchandise mix since the company’s founding in 2007, the quick-turn, riffed-from-the-headlines costumes that have become Yandy’s signature approach to Halloween came about serendipitously in 2012.
“We had done a line of sexy costumes inspired by ‘Sesame Street,’” said Pilar Quintana-Williams, Yandy’s vice president of merchandising. “And then Big Bird ended up playing such a big part in the election that year, showing up in audiences at Romney events.” (People started turning out to campaign events dressed as the tall, yellow Muppet after the Republican candidate made cutting funding to public television part of his stump speech.)
“Our sexy costume inspired by Big Bird suddenly started trending,” she added. “And it ended up getting us a lot of press. But it wasn’t intentional.”
With many traditional public events canceled due to coronavirus, all our holiday energy has to go somewhere. And so far it appears 2020 will be the year we go wild on holiday decorations, starting with Halloween.
It is intentional now, and while most of the ideas for each Halloween’s 10 to 20 titillating takes on trendy topics — which Quintana-Williams calls “Yandifying” — have been in the works for at least a few months (“We literally start planning our [next] season on Nov. 1,” she said), some arise at the spur of the moment. One of those was the sexy Undecided Voter costume that Yandy posted to its website just two days after mustachioed, red-sweater-wearing undecided voter Ken Bone asked a question on live TV during a 2016 presidential debate. Now her antenna is always up for meme-worthy moments.
“It was after 11 o'clock [the night of the Pence/Harris debate, where a fly made a memorable cameo] and Pilar and I were texting each other,” said Alicia Thompson, Yandy’s director of brand marketing. “It started as a joke — the sexy debate fly — but then we had to decide if it was really worth putting all hands on deck for this fly that’s going to be gone the next day.”
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Although Thompson and Quintana-Williams said they ultimately decided it wasn’t worth the effort, they were confident they could have pulled it off. “We can make anything sexy — that’s what we do,” Thompson said, noting that the idea they’d been swatting around involved putting the debate fly in a (presumably form-fitting) jumpsuit.
That means the sexy costume inspired by quarantine banana bread, which Yandy pulled out of the oven on Oct. 7, is more than likely the last Yandified pop-culture topic of this Halloween season. Below is a look at it and some of the hilariously sexy takes on things that have no business being sexy.
“Well aren’t you looking hot and homemade?” begins the description of the Banana Bread Boredom costume, which consists of a mini-length tube dress with a silver metallic back (the loaf pan!), brown velvet front (the bread) and banana peel details. Just be thankful there isn’t a sexy sourdough starter costume.
This costume consists of a mint-green bodysuit emblazoned with a totally-not-Purell logo worn under a clear vinyl flared dress. The words across the midriff read “Kills 99.99% of germs.” It’s best not to think too hard about being sexually attracted to a bottle of germicide unless you want to kill 100% of your libido.
There’s no shortage of cute and curvy honeybee costumes out there, but Yandy went the extra mile, turning a black-and-gold-striped vinyl bodysuit and “cute hornet tail,” into a topical costume referencing the arrival in the U.S. of the much-hyped Asian giant hornet, a.k.a. “murder hornet.” Mind the stinger.
Yandy’s got a pantry full of food-themed outfits to get your pulse racing (think skin-tight “Tater Thot” costumes and a taco dress with all the fixins down the front) but somehow felt it necessary to dial specifically into sexing up the vegan burger. The Beyond Burger ensemble on the menu includes a brown tube dress, speckles of seeds across the bust and a burger-patty print across the midriff — edged in lettuce ruffles. The great thing about the impossible (burger) girl of your dreams is that she can do double duty as a carnivore’s delight simply by removing the red flag that says “plant based.”
The Banned App costume popped up on Yandy’s website shortly after President Trump announced he wanted to remove the social video app TikTok from U.S. app stores over national-security concerns. In addition to a musical note logo on the front that resembles TikTok’s, the belly-baring two-piece costume has the word “banned” printed across the backside. The best part of this costume? Put it on and there’s a good chance no one over 34 will pay attention to you.
The Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” was the gift we all needed back at the beginning of quarantine, and the ensemble of sequin tiger-print romper with faux-denim bottom, Tiger Queen trucker cap and stuffed tiger toy on the shoulder tries to keep the magic going. Joe Exotic fans of a certain stripe might be attracted to this one like sardine oil to Carole Baskin’s husband because it’s an officially licensed “Tiger King” costume.
Since I’m a journalist, the newsprint thigh-skimming tank dress with the word “FAKE” in red across the front to create a Fake News costume just plain hurts. What hurts even more is that this isn’t even a new costume. “It first came out in 2017,” Quintana-Williams said, “and it’s sold really well continuously — not just during Halloween.”
As Halloween candy goes, there are few sweet treats as polarizing as candy corn (which, let’s be honest, are technically candy corn kernels) and even fewer with less sex appeal. (This comes from a man who always had a fondness for the green lady M&M in her white go-go boots.) So Yandy gets points for trying to make it desirable by combining a striped road-cone-colored poncho with a mini dunce cap, an ensemble called the Candy Corn Cutie.
Don’t get me wrong: I think the whole voting thing is sexy. And I know that any costume that raises awareness about the ability to vote by mail is a good thing. But the form-fitting white tube dress with words “official ballot enclosed” up the front and an “I voted” sticker on each breast that compose the Mail-in Ballot costume might be the most pointlessly — and hilariously — sexualized costume of 2020. Mining the same theme is a Postal Babe letter carrier costume. You know, to make sure the ballot costume gets where it’s going safely.
Donna T. Rumpshaker
A costume putting a provocative spin on Donald Trump’s signature style — a blue jacket, white shirt and red necktie — paired with leg-baring hot pants entered the Yandy universe during the 2016 election cycle and has proved an annual Halloween favorite. A second version, Donna T.2.0, was added for this Halloween/election cycle, subbing out long pants for the short shorts and adding a keyhole cutout that allows the necktie to dangle down the décolletage. Neither includes a face mask.
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