The Ultimate '80s Halloween Costume: Boy George

Instead of being one of the hundred people dressed in leg warmers and neon leotards, why not get a little romantic and a little androgynous?
Publish date:
October 15, 2013
tutorials, blushes, eyeliners, eyeshadows, halloween, celebrities, Revlon, hair, makeup, Stila, Benefit, beautyblender, 1980s, Boy George

If you’re planning to dress up for Halloween, chances are you’ve run into the line of thought that asks, “How can I not look desperate for attention by dressing as a sexy pumpkin or pizza or killer whale (what even?) and still look damn good?”

This year, the likelihood of you being invited to a Gatsby-themed soirée is outdone only by the chances of being invited to the inevitable '80s themed party. People still love the '80s. I thought this would have ended a while ago, but we just can’t seem to let go, especially when it comes to over-the-top costumes.

Instead of being one of the hundred people dressed in leg warmers and neon leotards, why not get a little romantic and a little androgynous?

Last year, Jean Paul Gaultier devoted the bulk of his Spring 2013 collection to badass looks inspired by '80s icons. Standing out from a sea of Grace Joneses, Michael Jacksons and Madonnas is basically impossible, but that’s what happened when four statuesque Boy Georges came stomping down the runway.

Boy George was way ahead of his time because he knew there’s nothing sexier than a look that is hot on any and all genders. Recently, I've been hearing a lot about Boy George because he transitioned to a healthier lifestyle and lost a ton of weight.

A love of health AND sexual expression? He's my kind of boy. And my kind of Halloween costume.


For my makeup I started by applying white Ben Nye Super White Face Powder with a damp beautyblender. I got a bag of free beautyblenders backstage at New York Fashion Week last month, and their rep explained to me that these pink little teardrop-shaped blenders are actual sponges that contain antimicrobial properties, which makes me feel slightly better about rubbing it all over my face...maybe.

I covered my eyelid from lash to brow with a yellow eyeshadow. It didn’t really show up as yellow until a contrasting color is added.

I used a playing card to guide a red eyeshadow from a Black Radiance palette from the outer corner of my eye to my temple. The playing card helps create a sharper line. Natural-looking makeup is not the goal here, so forget everything you know about blending eyeshadow.

To give my cheeks a pop of color that mismatched my eyes, I decided to pull out this little jar of highly pigmented magenta powder from my purse.

I bought this powder for $3 at an East Village Indian Grocery. It's made from dried hibiscus flowers, and I normally like to add into water--it’s high in vitamin C and delicious--but decided to apply it along my cheekbones with the help of my damp beautyblender and playing card, making another sharp line.

Halloween is truly the best time to experiment with makeup you wouldn’t think to buy in real life, so I decided to incorporate more of my stash of never-used Fashion Week swag and applied Stila Sparkle Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner under my eyes, making an upside-down cat eye, with the flick towards the inner eye. I used Benefit Watt's Up to soften and lighten the bottom lash line.

After applying mascara, I did an actual cat eye above my lashline with my go-to favorite Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen in Black.

Then, I used the same eyeliner for my third and final cat eye of the day on my eyebrows, following the bottom line of my natural brow line and extending it straight out instead of curving along the brow bone.


Trying to recreate Boy George’s iconic hair was a bit daunting. I looked for ribbons, but I wasn’t sure that they had the right grip and messy look I was going for.

While wandering the aisles of my local drugstore I came across these beauties for 99 cents.

I cut the socks up into strips and tied them to sections of my hair then braided them into those sections.

Since my hair was greasy enough to look cool, I decided to leave my long bangs unbraided, tied a scarf around my head and put a hat on top.

Oops--I definitely forgot to add a bold lip. Boy George tended to go for deep maroons and browns, but I decided to go for a pop of red à la Karlie Kloss (when in doubt, follow the supermodels).

I bought my skirt at an Osaka thrift shop and my vintage men's kimono belonged to my mother's first husband. Boy George's makeup often had a Kabuki influence so maybe I was subconsciously picking Japanese pieces for my costume but my overall aim was to simply power clash the boldest patterns and colors I could find in my closet.

I may be a fashion season (or three) behind the trends and 30 years behind Boy George himself, but I love a costume that is comfortable, sexy, and not (too) embarrassing.

Now I know what to wear to every '80s party forever. Let's face it--they're never going away.