Popular costumes change from year to year, heavily influenced by trendy movies and TV shows, music celebrities, and well-loved cartoons. Every October, the National Retail Federation puts out a list of the most popular costumes for the coming season. In 2006, for example, pirates, superheroes, and witches were amonth the most popular. In 2004, the top costume was Spiderman; in 2003, it was The Hulk.
These trends have much to do with the current blockbusters, which goes to show that even when it comes to popular Halloween costumes, the popular media has the last say. Some other popular costumes are timeless classics. Fairies, cheerleaders, and Disney characters are always popular, along with vampires and clowns. Older kids and preteens often favor scary costumes. In 2006, some of the most popular costumes for teens included undead cheerleaders and corpse brides. Some of the most popular costumes for babies are Disney classics such as Winnie the Pooh. Animals such as bunnies, ladybugs, and cats have also been trendy choices for babies and toddlers.
Among adults, sexy outfits tend to be popular costumes. It's hard to imagine a Halloween without a sexy nurse, an attractive French maid, or a seductive vampire. Traditional characters never get old and are popular costumes among adults. This includes classic movie characters, such as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, or celebrities such as Elvis or Marilyn Monroe. For adults, much of the fun of Halloween comes with playing dress up, so many opt for costumes based on puns or visual gags.
For people who prefer to skip stores and make their own Halloween costumes, creativity is key. Even those who can't sew can easily piece together a costume from the back of the closet. Don a Hawaiian shirt and an old camera and you have an instant costume as a tourist, for example.
Above all, remember to be safe and have fun. Halloween is a day when everybody gets to be a child again, no matter their age.