Ten Halloween costumes that will save you from dressing up as Miley Cyrus

Thinking of reaching for a leotard and a suggestive foam finger so you can twerk your way through the spookiest night of the year? Think again!

Halloween is nearly here, and we’re preparing to be invaded by an army of twerking, wrecking ball-riding Miley Cyri. The Miley Cyrus costume has already reached ubiquity and you can learn how to make one here, here and here. As the more traditional and wholesome Halloween get-ups (the Frankenstein, the Dracula, the Maggie Thatcher) are replaced by ones that scream, “Look at me. I get popular culture”, here are ten costumes a bit better than a leotard and a suggestive foam finger:

1. An open letter

From Sinéad O’Connor to Sufjan Stevens, the verbose outpourings of several public figures have rendered 2013 the year of the open letter. And what could be more frightening than a celebrity dying of altitude sickness, atop its high horse? Plus, this makes for an easy costume; just look papery and sanctimonious.

2. A penis beaker

It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled through the trees, the stairs creaked and the sodden, post-coital willy went splosh, into a cup. The Mumsnet-spawned internet sensation, “Penis Beaker”, is by far the scariest story of the year. Although I’m not entirely sure how to dress up as a normal beaker, let alone a penis one; if well-executed, this costume is a guaranteed hit. Hint: you will pull.

3. Morrissey’s ego

The Smiths frontman’s autobiography just made history by instantly moaning its way into the lofty realms of Penguin Classics. Why not celebrate by going to a Halloween Party as This Charming Man’s ego? It’s easy; just dress up as big as possible. This can be achieved with five jumpers, a puffer jacket and a duvet cloak. What’s more, Morrissey’s ego also works as a two-person costume. Just get a friend to dress up as a penguin and massage you all evening.

4. Jeremy Paxman’s beard

As far as controversial facial hair goes, Paxo’s stubble is the fuzzy apex. This costume is a sensible choice for cat/dog owners. Just cover yourself in PVA glue and rub little Mittens and/or Rover all over your naked body. Try not to look like 1970s porn.

5. A poisonous vagina

Michael Douglas made head(ha!)lines earlier this year, when he loudly and publicly announced that he got throat cancer from going down on too many women. What a great day for hypochondriacal lesbians everywhere. Meanwhile, a Brazilian woman tried to murder her husband by lacing her vagina with poison. So, move over Open Letter, 2013 may actually be the year of the toxic twat. Combine Poisonous Vagina with Penis Beaker for the perfect couples’ costume.

6. Taylor Swift

I don’t understand all the quacking, frenzied hoo-hah about Miley Cyrus. As far as I can tell, aside from having enough money to buy Luxembourg, she’s the most normal 20-year-old girl who ever lived. Taylor Swift, on the other hand, gives me the heebie-jeebies. Maybe it’s that permanent half-smile that seems to say, “I buried my governess in a shallow grave”; maybe it’s the fact that I’ve spent actual minutes wondering what’s hiding underneath that porkpie hat. Either way, a Taylor Swift costume this Halloween will guarantee a shudder from me, at least.

7. Vladimir Putin

A Putin mask is an excellent way to lampoon one of the foremost bogeyman of 2013. For extra authenticity, remove your shirt, strike a devastatingly camp pose and refuse to engage with any gay people or women who might be at the Halloween party.

8. Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange

I repeat; not just Julian Assange, but Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. To mark the release of The Fifth Estate, in which the angular actor plays the arsy activist, I suggest a combination of a Cumberbatch face cut-out and a mop placed jauntily atop your head. Assange was eerie enough before he morphed with Cumberbatch to make Cumbersange; the pallid truth-seeker of your nightmares.

9. A One Direction fan

. . . Or a “Directioner” as one is known, rather ominously. Fans of the world’s most attractive embryos have outdone themselves in buttock-clenched devotion this year, tweeting death threats at anyone who isn’t that keen on their favourite band. Harry Styles has over 17 million Twitter followers. It’s been scientifically proven that at least 87 per cent of those people can and will garrotte you while you sleep. Forget the zombie apocalypse, the Directioner apocalypse is well on its way. To get the look, scrawl “1D 4 EVA” on a T-shirt, in your own blood.

10. A Breaking Bad mourner

Millions were devastated when we said goodbye to the greatest TV programme about methamphetamine, ever. So why not pay your respects and go the full Victorian widow? You’ll need a long black dress, a veil and a locket containing a picture of Bryan Cranston. Extra points for a Woman in Black-style rocking chair.


Vladimir Putin was arguably the foremost bogeyman of 2013. To add extra authenticity to your costume, remove your shirt. Photo: Getty

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.

Show Hide image

Stability is essential to solve the pension problem

The new chancellor must ensure we have a period of stability for pension policymaking in order for everyone to acclimatise to a new era of personal responsibility in retirement, says 

There was a time when retirement seemed to take care of itself. It was normal to work, retire and then receive the state pension plus a company final salary pension, often a fairly generous figure, which also paid out to a spouse or partner on death.

That normality simply doesn’t exist for most people in 2016. There is much less certainty on what retirement looks like. The genesis of these experiences also starts much earlier. As final salary schemes fall out of favour, the UK is reaching a tipping point where savings in ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes become the most prevalent form of traditional retirement saving.

Saving for a ‘pension’ can mean a multitude of different things and the way your savings are organised can make a big difference to whether or not you are able to do what you planned in your later life – and also how your money is treated once you die.

George Osborne established a place for himself in the canon of personal savings policy through the introduction of ‘freedom and choice’ in pensions in 2015. This changed the rules dramatically, and gave pension income a level of public interest it had never seen before. Effectively the policymakers changed the rules, left the ring and took the ropes with them as we entered a new era of personal responsibility in retirement.

But what difference has that made? Have people changed their plans as a result, and what does 'normal' for retirement income look like now?

Old Mutual Wealth has just released. with YouGov, its third detailed survey of how people in the UK are planning their income needs in retirement. What is becoming clear is that 'normal' looks nothing like it did before. People have adjusted and are operating according to a new normal.

In the new normal, people are reliant on multiple sources of income in retirement, including actively using their home, as more people anticipate downsizing to provide some income. 24 per cent of future retirees have said they would consider releasing value from their home in one way or another.

In the new normal, working beyond your state pension age is no longer seen as drudgery. With increasing longevity, the appeal of keeping busy with work has grown. Almost one-third of future retirees are expecting work to provide some of their income in retirement, with just under half suggesting one of the reasons for doing so would be to maintain social interaction.

The new normal means less binary decision-making. Each choice an individual makes along the way becomes critical, and the answers themselves are less obvious. How do you best invest your savings? Where is the best place for a rainy day fund? How do you want to take income in the future and what happens to your assets when you die?

 An abundance of choices to provide answers to the above questions is good, but too much choice can paralyse decision-making. The new normal requires a plan earlier in life.

All the while, policymakers have continued to give people plenty of things to think about. In the past 12 months alone, the previous chancellor deliberated over whether – and how – to cut pension tax relief for higher earners. The ‘pensions-ISA’ system was mooted as the culmination of a project to hand savers complete control over their retirement savings, while also providing a welcome boost to Treasury coffers in the short term.

During her time as pensions minister, Baroness Altmann voiced her support for the current system of taxing pension income, rather than contributions, indicating a split between the DWP and HM Treasury on the matter. Baroness Altmann’s replacement at the DWP is Richard Harrington. It remains to be seen how much influence he will have and on what side of the camp he sits regarding taxing pensions.

Meanwhile, Philip Hammond has entered the Treasury while our new Prime Minister calls for greater unity. Following a tumultuous time for pensions, a change in tone towards greater unity and cross-department collaboration would be very welcome.

In order for everyone to acclimatise properly to the new normal, the new chancellor should commit to a return to a longer-term, strategic approach to pensions policymaking, enabling all parties, from regulators and providers to customers, to make decisions with confidence that the landscape will not continue to shift as fundamentally as it has in recent times.

Steven Levin is CEO of investment platforms at Old Mutual Wealth.

To view all of Old Mutual Wealth’s retirement reports, visit: www.oldmutualwealth.co.uk/ products-and-investments/ pensions/pensions2015/