Halloween is one of the biggest holidays of the year, perhaps second only to Christmas. Between the $6.9 million that was spent on Halloween costumes last year and much more money spent on candy, this spooky holiday gives any country's economy a nice little boost. Perhaps that's why stores are stocking Halloween equipment by mid-summer? It's a night where kids are on a sugar high and many adults drink and party to excess. It's a night when we're allowed to get into more mischief than usual, safely disguised in our chosen costume.
Despite appearances to the contrary, Halloween wasn't created by the costume or candy companies. It's a holiday rich in history and tradition dating back to medieval times. Halloween got its start back when it was known as Samhain and dressing up in costume was an act of disguising oneself as a spirit. The practice evolved into wearing costumes and going from house to house offering prayers, blessings, and performances in exchange for treats or goods. The costume-wearing has developed over the centuries and now the practice is perfectly commercialized, with pop-up Halloween stores in every city and cheap pumpkin decorations lining the shelves of every convenience store.
There are thousands of varieties in Halloween costumes, and what's popular is very much dependent on the dominant pop culture trends in the eleven months preceding October. From movies, comics, TV shows, and video games, anything could set the standard for a desirable Halloween costume. In fact, the popular Halloween costumes each year say a lot about the zeitgeist. In 2014, these are the most popular Halloween costumes based on data compiled from the most common searches of various merchant websites and the most popular costume searches on search engines this year.
20 Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood is a classic fairy tale that made its first appearance in 1697 in print, but it's speculated that the European tale is much older. For centuries, this character has become central to themes of heroism and the consequences of "straying from the path." Her most recent depictions in popular media include Kristen Stewart's turn in Snow White and the Huntsman and being portrayed in the TV show Once Upon a Time.
19 Alice In Wonderland
With Tim Burton's 2010 adaptation of the classic story by Lewis Carroll, Alice and her friends have experienced a boom in popularity. Not to mention that the colourful characters of the story make for some of the most versatile costumes to suit just about anyone. From the Red Queen to the Mad Hatter, the possibilities are endless.
18 Minnie and Mickey Mouse
Walt Disney's mice provide some of the most flexible costumes on the market that appeal to nearly every age group and species. From adorable Mickey Mouse babies to sexy Minnie, it's guaranteed that you'll probably see one of the two, maybe even both, while trick-or-treating or attending that Halloween party.
17 Great Gatsby
Most of us are familiar with F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel, or have at least seen one of the many media adaptations of the story made in the last 40 years. Just last year, Baz Luhrmann breathed new life into the story starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. The popularity of this costume is also probably down to the fact that a 20s costume is fairly easy to make with just a few accessories.
16 Monster High
In case you're over the age of 13, a male, or not a parent, "Monster High" is a doll franchise based on classic horror movies like Frankenstein and Dracula with a teenage girl twist. The dolls are either the children of, or related to, some of Hollywood's most classic monsters, which makes these cute punky characters very appealing as Halloween costumes.
A lion costume is pretty versatile. From dressing your dog up as the king of the jungle to an adorable baby costume with a lion mane around their face, the lion is an easy costume to buy or to basically put together. This is why it's no surprise that year after year, even in the absence of major lion references in the mainstream media, the lion costume remains popular in October.
14 Tinker Bell
The popular Tinker Bell that we know today made her first appearance in 1953 as the ethereal creature with a mean jealous streak in Walt Disney's "Peter Pan." Since then, Tinker Bell has become a franchise of her own with her own movies, dolls, and costumes that every girl wants to wear no matter what age.
13 Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy is the beautiful arch nemesis of Batman, and one of the most lethal eco-terrorists that Gotham City has ever known. She isn't all just poison and vines - she has shown herself to be a complex character with many layers. This is probably why she is so appealing as a Halloween costume for females, especially among the fiery redhead population.
12 Katniss Everdeen
Katniss Everdeen is the protagonist of "The Hunger Games" book series and movies, which are a huge hit. Katniss is the epitome of female strength and fighting for what you believe is right, represented on-screen by everyone's favourite girl of the moment Jennifer Lawrence. With so much empowerment, media popularity, and the ease of putting a costume together, it really isn't a shocker that Katniss is so popular this year.
While it may not be perceived as exactly politically correct, Pocahontas has been a consistent costume that remains popular in the Halloween costume rankings. Many are familiar with her story through the (embellished) Disney movie, but she was quite a remarkable historical character: There have been numerous places and landmarks named after Pocahontas' accomplishments and her relationship with the settlement in Jamestown. Of course, Halloween costume makers manage to reduce all that to a sexy costume.
The minions became wildly popular upon the release of the movie, "Despicable Me", and their popularity soared after the sequel a few years later. From the boom in merchandise sales to Halloween costumes, people young and old can't seem to get enough of these little yellow creatures that have stolen our hearts.
9 Star Wars
George Lucas' franchise has remained popular for decades, and the universe he created has left room for numerous sequels and varieties on story expansion. From Princess Leia to Luke Skywalker to Han Solo to Darth Vader to even Jar Jar Binks, there is something for everyone in the Star Wars universe.
What is it about a pirate costume that's so appealing? From tales of swashbuckling adventures to sailing the seven seas with Captain Jack Sparrow, pirates are not only historical figures, but also representations of a life that many would like to live... But maybe without the scurvy. Pirate costumes remain popular every year, and they can either be purchased or easily put together at home.
Superman is one of the most iconic superhero figures. From comic books, television series, and movies, everyone wants to see Superman in some form or another. He has become the representation of all that is good and honorable, and some fans have even gotten his famous S symbol tattooed on their bodies.
An integral part of comic book culture, Superman remains the most popular male superhero costume. And of course, most popular Superman costumes are actually in t-shirt form now.
6 Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman represents femininity and strength, which makes it no shocker that she is one of the most popular Halloween costumes this year. From her portrayal in comic books, cartoons, and even a few nods in mainstream film, Wonder Woman is the lady that girls want to grow up to be and there's a lot more buzz around this sexy superhero since the new Wonder Woman film has began production earlier this year.
This costume choice might seem odd, but the "Bavarian" is one of the most popular searches for men's Halloween costumes - perhaps it's because of the convenient timely tie-in with Oktoberfest? Of course, for any guy that likes beer, especially German beer, this is the perfect costume to wear at parties serving copious amounts of alcohol. And if a guy's wearing this somewhat twee costume, he's probably going to get some laughs.
Catwoman is the friendly nemesis/partner of Batman. Her background is complex and she and Batman have a "tension" that leaves fans at the edge of their seats. The varying reasons why Catwoman remains as a popular costume vary from Michelle Pfeiffer's sexy portrayal to Anne Hathaway's most recent on-screen depiction of the anti heroine. Catwoman is beautiful, strong, sexy, and complex, which many women can relate to. And of course, that skin-hugging suit is a great way to show off the results of those hours at the gym.
Okay, is this entry really a big surprise for anyone? "Frozen" is one of Disney's most successful movies ever, despite having been around for less than a year, and continues to sell millions in merchandise from dolls, books, toys, hygiene products, and more. You can bet that the top child's costume will be Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. There was even a 'sexy Olaf' costume making the rounds, to the surprise of most of the movie's fans.
1 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Between Michael Bay's summer blockbuster and the computer animated cartoon on Nickelodeon, TMNT has seen a resurrection in popularity. The beauty of TMNT costumes is that you can be young or old, boy or girl, man or woman - and it's great for a group! If you can get three of your friends together, you can pull off a pretty epic costume. According to internet searches on Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, TMNT comes out as the most popular Halloween costume for kids this year.