Halloween Costumes Celebrating The Women Of Color In Pop Culture

Pop culture is a vast and ever expanding landscape. But from viral memes and GIFs to the characters that we let into our homes every week via television, women of color have always been around been around to inspire and slay. They have been the best parts of our favorite movies and the innovator of our favorite songs. They are icons, both living and deceased, and they are permanently ingrained in our memories.

If you ask me, there is never a wrong time to celebrate women of color. But it’s true that Halloween presents a unique opportunity to honor these women by looking exactly like them. Here are a few ideas to get you started. And just to stay on the safe side, I would like to remind everyone that yellow/brown/Blackface are never ok. It really can’t be said enough.

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Cardi B in Hustlers

For the boldest Halloween party-goers among us, Cardi B in Hustlers is the perfect encapsulation of 2019. Understandably, you don't need much to recreate this bare-all look — just fishnet tights, a black under-boob corset, and some diamond pasties (of course Rihanna has you covered there). And, I'll just say it: a coat. It's October after all.

Doja Cat

Look, I'm just as shocked as you are that one of the best songs of 2018 came with the hook "Bitch, I'm a cow." But here we are. And the truth is that this playful song from Doja Cat is a display of her pure creativity and talent. So if you want to recreate this custom cow costume, please grab a cow print skirt, crop a cow print top, and add a nice little twerk.
Photo: Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.

Oprah

If you're going to be a woman of color, why not be one of the most powerful and influential ones? Oprah's reputation precedes her as the richest Black woman in America, the Queen of daytime television, and a GIF goddess among other things. Just think about how often you've seen this looping image. And you can recreate it.

Position a pixie cut wig so that the short part is in the front. Make sure you tease it out so that it mimics the volume of Oprah's hair. Grab a red suit and some pearls and at every hour on the hour yell "You get a car! YOU GET A CAR!"
Photo: Shondaland/ABC Studios USA Television.

Olivia Pope

Scandal came to an end after seven seasons in 2018. And while some people are probably grateful that they no longer have to worry about the crazy antics of politicians in Shonda Rhimes’ fictional D.C., there is no denying that Olivia Pope is a national treasure. And her style is iconic.

Here’s what you’ll need to recreate her look, in addition to a knock-off Prada bag. This bouncy wig will capture Pope’s signature blow out. Some wide leg trousers, a power blouse of your choice, and a white suit jacket will get you ready to handle Halloween. Yes, you’ll need some pumps.
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Photo: TINA FINEBERG/AP/REX/Shutterstock.

2000 J. Lo

If people are going to dress like J. Lo this Halloween, they are probably going to opt for some version of her iconic green Versace dress. But my favorite Jennifer Lopez is more Jenny from the block. This all-white streetwear look is just as recognizable and easy to pull off.

All you’ll need is a white sports bra, a white bandana from your local beauty supply store, and some white jeans. You can also pull this off as a couple’s look with someone else in a white tee, Black Detroit Tigers hat, and some dark jeans.
Photo: Jim Smeal/Getty.

TLC

The hardest part of dressing like TLC is definitely going to be choosing a look. With a career spanning over a decade even before the death of member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, there are a lot to choose from. But comfort always takes priority for me, so these oversized overalls from the 90s are perfect. I’d recommend getting men’s overalls for that baggy look.

Stick some condoms on them to promote safe sex just like the members of TLC did. Accessorize with shades and bandanas to taste.
Photo: NBC/Stuffed Dog/Quincy Jones Ent/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.

Hilary Banks

Following in the footsteps of A Different World’s Whitley Gilbert, Hilary Banks was a pioneer of bad and bougie as the eldest child on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. She wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but she was definitely the best dressed.

To pull off her staple look you’ll need a black bowler hat, no exceptions. I would also recommend a curly wig to wear underneath. You can probably find a women’s blazer with the shoulder pads on fleek at your local thrift store. Just make sure you rock a cute mini skirt and tights because you have to have the bad with the bougie.
Photo: Chelsea Lauren/WWD/REX/Shutterstock.

Janelle Monae

If you’re an O.G. Fan of Janelle Monae, you know that she has instituted her own uniform by committing to wearing black and white exclusively for public appearances and performances. There have only been a few exceptions to this rule, especially since she’s been hitting award season, and it makes her stand out in a crowd.

Just about any black-and-white ensemble that involves a button-up or bowtie will work to capture Monae. But if you really want to bring it home, get on YouTube to figure out how to mold your hair into her classic updo.
Photo: Arlene Richie/Media Sources.

Selena

If you can withstand the memory of the late singer Selena without crying, I commend you. You will also be pleased to know that this costume is readily available online.
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Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty.

Super Bowl 2016 Beyoncé

When Beyoncé performed “Formation” for the first time at 2016 Super Bowl, she gave a middle finger to everyone who thought her latest single was too militant. She, along with a hoard of dancers, channeled the Black Panther Party for an amazing performance.

You’ll need a black, leather military jacket on top of a black leotard and tights. Your comfiest black combat boots are perfect footwear. I found this military belt that looks like bullets that you can layer on top of your jacket for the maximum effect.
Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty.

Aaliyah

Another talented entertainer gone too soon, Aaliyah will always be remembered for her classic hits from the 90s and early 00s. She also mastered a unique style that is, in my humble opinion, timeless.

Get any lace up crop top and find yourself some briefs with a branded elastic band. This detail is important, as the band will show over your baggy pants. An oversized jacket is optional, but you will need a straight black wig that you can use to cover one eye. Retro sunnies and workman boots will bring it all together.
Photo: Chuck Hodes/FOX

Cookie from Empire

A modern-day heroine, Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) has reigned as the matriarch and CEO on Empire. She’s savvy and over-the-top, with an affinity for bright colors, fur, and gaudy jewelry. She’s a fun, but glam, choice for this year’s Halloween festivities.

A colorful faux fur is the starting place. Pair it up with a bodycon dress of your choice, preferably in animal print. Load up on gold jewelry — big hoops, lots of bangles, a chunky statement necklace, and a few rings should do the trick — and pick your favorite pumps.
Photo: Alan Davidson / Silverhub/REX/Shutterstock.

Scary Spice

Honestly, anything spandex and leopard print is a go for the woman I wanted to be for all of my adolescence. Scary Spice is still one of my style inspirations. You can pair your look with black Doc Martens to channel her fearlessness, but can you master her infamous buns?
Photo: New Line/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock.

Cleo from Set It Off

Set It Off is one of the most underrated heist movies ever, and Cleo (Queen Latifah) is one of the most underrated movie characters. May she rest in peace. I say we bring her back to life for one night in October.

All you need is a worker jumpsuit, black boots, and cornrows.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.

Missandei from Game of Thrones

There aren't many characters of color in GoT so it seems kind of important that we celebrate the ones that are. The ever-perfect is a great choice. She's actually one of the only choices... but I digress.

It's pretty simple to pull off her look. Find an earth-tone gown like this one and get yourself a Grey Worm! Bonus points if you let your curls bounce freely.

Shop Spooky Town

Nothing's scarier than a last-minute costume scramble. Click on over to Spooky Town now and shop our editors' curated collection of Halloween outfits and accessories. We even included some tasty treats!
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