10 very Tampa Bay Halloween costume ideas for 2023

From Barbie to banned books, here’s what we’ll be dressing up as this year.
We suggest some locally inspired Halloween costume ideas.
We suggest some locally inspired Halloween costume ideas. [ LISA MERKLIN | Times ]
Published Oct. 18

Between inflation, the never-ending heat and the lines for merch at the Taylor Swift concert, 2023 has brought some harrowing moments to Tampa Bay. We’re channeling the news of the year (good and bad) into some hyper-local Halloween looks.

Read on for Tampa Bay Times staffer picks for DIY costumes that summon the spirit of the state.

Traveling flamingos

Ever since Hurricane Idalia blew into town on Aug. 30, Pinellas County beaches have been graced with flamingo sightings. Honor our newest avian visitors in your costume this year. (Bonus points if you get your family to do the same, creating a flamboyance of flamingos.)

To create the tail feathers, glue pink feather boas to a base of a pink skirt or pink tights; you could also sport a tutu. Continue with a blush, red or salmon shirt. Take a pink baseball hat and glue on a paper beak and eyeballs.

Now, the local touches: Carry a paper map of Florida or throw on a tacky Hawaiian shirt over the ensemble to really drive home that you are one of the famed traveling flamingos, here to scope out the sun and surf. Another option is to accessorize with a boarding pass and a rolling suitcase. You are now the Tampa International Airport flamingo, Phoebe.

— Gabrielle Calise, culture, music and nostalgia reporter

Tampa Bay Barbie

Inspired by Stephanie Hayes’ “Which Tampa Bay Barbie are you?” column, choose from one of the following plastic personalities or get your whole Barbie squad together:

  • Pasco Nudist Resort Barbie: You only need to wear a towel.
  • Weeki Wachee Mermaid Barbie: Since merpeople are also having their moment, wear a Barbie Dreamtopia Rainbow Magic-inspired mermaid tail, sequined bikini top, colorful wig and waterproof mascara.
  • Tampa Bay Arts Scene Barbie: Sport a Dalí Museum T-shirt with a pair of jeans splattered in pink paint. Pair with a blonde wig and pink beret.

— Maggie Duffy, arts and dining writer

Local architecture

To become the Edition Hotel staircase (a favorite Instagram thirst trap spot), wrap yourself in a bunch of white paper and draw some lines for steps.

Or become a bland downtown luxury development. Cut out holes in a long rectangular cardboard box that you will wear. Draw on some windows and a door. Don’t put too much effort into the details, because all the buildings these days look the same anyway.

— Bernadette Berdychowski, local business reporter

Traffic jam

This couples costume pays homage to a longtime Tampa Bay pastime: sitting in traffic. One partner dresses like a traffic cone, the other dresses like a jar of jam. (Get it?)

For the cone: Wear an orange outfit banded with reflective tape. Make a traffic cone hat out of rolled orange construction paper or felt.

For the jam: Create a round jar shape by taping together pieces of poster board. Paint it red for strawberry (or purple if you’re a grape fan). Punch out holes and tie strings to make shoulder straps. Paint on or print a jam label to decorate the outside of the “jar,” and make a lid hat with a cardboard circle wrapped in matching gingham fabric.

— Lisa Merklin, deputy design director

Unwanted Dasani

Even with a hurricane approaching, and panic buyers sweeping grocery store supplies of bottled water, Dasani sits untouched on shelves because even Floridians know better. A green cap and a gray or white shirt with a band of blue and the Dasani logo are all you need to complete the look. Just don’t expect to get picked up while wearing it.

— Lisa Merklin, deputy design director

Beyonce and/or Taylor Swift

If you went to either show, you have already invested in sparkly fringed cowboy hats or friendship bracelets, so make use of them. Carry a sign like the fans did saying “Bey Hive” or “Swiftie forever” and wear:

For Taylor: Choose your favorite era as a jumping-off point. You could be anything from Swift herself on the “Lover” album cover (just glue pink crystal hearts around one eye) to “Lavender Haze” (any shade of purple, worn head to toe, works). Several Tampa fans became “Bejeweled” ahead of her shows at Raymond James Stadium this fall, gluing chunky rhinestones to a bodysuit to re-create Tay’s look. Add on handmade friendship bracelets to top it off.

For Beyonce: Anything metallic will do. The most popular accessory at her show was the cowboy hat, studded in mirror squares or draped with fringe across the brim. Pair with shiny body suits, bedazzled jackets, sequined tops and anything else that shimmers.

— Sharon Kennedy Wynne, events, family and travel reporter

An espresso martini

Go to a bar in Tampa Bay these days, and you’re likely to see someone drinking an espresso martini. Even if it’s not on the cocktail menu (and it is on plenty of cocktail menus), the drink has become ubiquitous the past couple of years. You can transform into everyone’s favorite boozy and caffeinated beverage in a few easy steps.

First, wear all brown, head to toe. It’s almost fall — the color is now in season! A giant wide-rimmed hat will help sell the silhouette of a martini glass. Find a brownish one, and glue some cotton balls or that fake spider webbing they sell this time of year all over the top of it. It’s the foam atop your shaken martini. And for your accessory: a martini glass filled with coffee beans — or, if you’re really feeling it, an actual espresso martini.

— Michelle Stark, assistant editor of Life & Culture

A Florida school library

Turn a cardboard box into an empty bookshelf and strap it to your body. Or, be the librarian holding “scary” banned books.

— Colette Bancroft, copy desk chief and books critic

Tropicana Field

Dress up like the old baseball stadium before the new one gets built. Purchase a white umbrella hat to wear on your head. Adorn with baseball cutouts and pair with a baseball jersey. For extra flair, add battery-powered LED lights underneath your headgear to make it look like the Trop lit up at night, and carry a carton of Tropicana orange juice.

— Martha Asencio-Rhine, photo director of projects and features