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How to Dress Up as a Competent, Functioning Adult for Halloween

Halloween is your chance to become whatever you want. You can transform into a giant pumpkin or a werewolf. Or, if you’re an ADHD millennial like me, maybe you’ll decide to dress up as an organized, competent, functioning adult for Halloween.

In that case, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips on how to pass as a 100 percent adult.

The Costume

Imagine that you woke up late and didn’t have time to shower this morning. Then, when you went to get dressed, you found that you’d forgotten to do your laundry again and had to dress in dirty clothes picked up from the floor of your room.

AdultImagine? you might say. No imagination required – that’s just my morning routine.

OK, fine. Anyway, visualize your hypothetical-or-not-so-hypothetical woke-up-too-late-to-shower-and-forgot-to-do-laundry outfit and then take the exact opposite of that. There’s your functioning adult Halloween costume.

In other words, you definitely want your clothes to be clean, and bonus points if they’re ironed and starched. Recommended style: business casual.

You want your haircut to scream “I have my barber on speed dial in case there’s even a hint that my hair is starting to become unkempt.” More generally, you want your look to say: “I perform all the day-to-day tasks of maintaining my everyday life effortlessly, and the idea of procrastinating on any of those activities has not even entered my awareness.”

The Behavior

Selling a costume is only partly about what you wear. How you act and what you say is also important.

In this vein, you want your behavior to exude good judgment and responsibility. Carry around a to-do list and constantly add items to it. Then actually do the things on your to-do-list. Make it clear to everyone that you are planning all your actions in advance, and weighing the pros and cons of these actions against other possible options.

If you aren’t sure what exactly a responsible adult says, here are some lines you can use:

  • “I’m looking forward to watching 20 minutes of Netflix after I finish all my chores. Then I’ll be calling it an early night.”
  • “After thinking through the consequences, I don’t think I’ll be booking a spontaneous vacation this weekend. I’d rather use that money to make a contribution to my IRA.”
  • “Another one of those chocolate chip cookies would be tasty, but I’m already near the CDC’s daily recommended sugar intake, so I’ll have to hold off.”
  • “Just another day where I accomplished everything on my to-do list.”
  • “You mean some people actually pay late fees? I didn’t know that was a thing.”

The Spookiness

Halloween is all about the spookiness, and the best Halloween costume is one that strikes bone-chilling fear into people who see it. If you want to take your put-together adult Halloween costume to the next level of creepiness, here are some things you can do:

  • Hide in the bushes, then jump out at people and yell “Have you started your taxes? It’s already October!”
  • Whisper in an eerie voice: “have you heard about the man whose room was always tidy?”
  • Hand out planners and other organizational aids to trick-or-treaters

Of course, as with all Halloween costumes, the point here is to indulge our imagination. The perfectly competent, functional adult is a creature that, like Bigfoot, is fun to tell stories about but whose existence has only been rumored, not proven.

Happy adulting, and more importantly, happy Halloween!

Image: Flickr/freeimage4life

How to Dress Up as a Competent, Functioning Adult for Halloween

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2018). How to Dress Up as a Competent, Functioning Adult for Halloween. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 31 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Oct 2018
Published on All rights reserved.