The best Halloween costumes for adults: Stranger Things, '80s and more

Julianne Ross, CNN Underscored
Updated Wed October 2, 2019

Need some Halloween inspo? We talked to the experts about the best Halloween costumes for adults to find out the trends you'll be seeing on the streets and at the office party this year.

The biggest takeaway? Pop culture reigns supreme. Bill Furtkevic of Party City, says that while "there is always a steady demand for classic costumes" — think: princesses and zombies — "pop culture and top-performing entertainment usually inform costume trends."

HalloweenCostumes.com's Ross Hewett-Smith agrees: "You're going to see a lot of animals, cops, ninjas, pirates, werewolves and witches," he says, but "the overall trends will most likely align with whatever is trending in pop culture." (This holds true for the best Halloween costumes for kids as well.)

In many ways, Halloween 2019 might look a lot like the Halloween of 20 to 30 years ago. That's because so much of pop culture these days is tied to reboots of the movies and TV characters that millennials — who are starting to make up a bigger share of costume purchases — dressed up as back when they were kids. Of course, there are plenty of new arrivals too. Check out out the top Halloween costume trends for 2019!

Best 'Stranger Things 3' Halloween Costumes

Both Hewett-Smith and Furtkevic report soaring interest in characters from the Netflix series, whose third season premiered over the summer to overwhelming success. "Stranger Things" is also the No. 1 costume trend on Pinterest across 10 states right now, according to the site's annual Halloween Report. Whether you want to look cute in a Scoops Ahoy uniform, terrify everyone as a Demogorgon, or embrace your inner Eggo, there's a "Stranger Things" costume for you.

Steve Scoops Ahoy Costume ($49.99; partycity.com and starting at $54.85; amazon.com)

Robin Scoops Ahoy Costume ($49.99; partycity.com and starting at $64.94; amazon.com)

Mall Eleven Costume ($39.99; partycity.com and starting at $47; amazon.com)

Eleven Dress Costume ($30.99; amazon.com and $39.99; partycity.com)

Demogoron Costume ($69.99; amazon.com)

Waffle Costume ($24.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

Jim Hopper Costume (starting at $69.99; halloweencostumes.com)

Best '80s and '90s Nostalgia Halloween Costumes

"Stranger Things" is, at least in part, an ode to the 1980s — so is it any wonder that people this year are looking three decades back for more costume inspiration? "Our nostalgia costumes have been an absolute hit," says Hewett-Smith. "With the '80s being one of the most popular decades in pop-culture, a lot of our '80s movies-themed costumes tend to perform just as well, if not better than an Avenger or a new Disney movie." In Pinterest's report, meanwhile, "80s costume" is the eighth most popular seach for women. Furtkevic vouches for the booming popularity of '90s costumes too, as now-grown millennials want to "reminisce over their childhood attire."

Rubie's Women's Punk Rock Costume ($57.99, originally $69.59; halloweenexpress.com)

'80s Workout Girl Costume (starting at $29.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

'Clueless' Cher Costume (starting at $54.99; fun.com)

'Clueless' Tai Costume ($44.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

'Clueless' Dee Costume (starting at $49.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

'Princess Bride' Westley Costume (starting at $44.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

'Back to the Future' Marty McFly Costume ($44.99; partycity.com and $69.99; amazon.com)

Ferris Bueller Costume (starting at $49.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

Premium 'Ghostbusters' Unisex Costume ($99.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

Best Alien Halloween Costumes

"Due to the recent Area 51 raid, we've seen the interest in alien costumes nearly double," says Hewett-Smith. "We're expecting to see a lot of alien costumes used for joke-type costumes related to the raid this fall." Pinterest searches for "alien" are also up 659% according to the site's Halloween Report. If you'd prefer to make a more human-centric nod to outer space, Hewett-Smith says astronauts are big this year too, due to the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

Area 51 Escapee Costume ($34.99; halloweencostumes.com and amazon.com)

Adult Oversized Alien Costume (starting at $49.99; halloweencostumes.com and $64.99; amazon.com)

Alien Pajama Costume ($59.99; fun.com)

Sassy Alien Costume ($34.99; partycity.com)

Galactic Babe Costume ($99.99; halloweencostumes.com)

Women's Alien Accessory Kit ($34.99; partycity.com)

Orange Astronaut Jumpsuit Costume (starting at $49.99; fun.com)

Best Horror Movie Halloween Costumes

If you're looking to embrace the creepy spirit of Halloween, Furtkevic says that the horror film favorites are Pennywise from "It Chapter 2" and "Annabelle" ("Annabelle Comes Home" was released this summer). Porcelain doll makeup searches are up 153% on Pinterest. Thanks to the success of "Us" and "Midsommar," expect to see plenty of red jumpsuits and flower crowns as well.

'It Chapter 2' Tattered Pennywise Costume ($54.99; partycity.com and starting at $69.99; amazon.com)

Deluxe 'It' Pennywise Costume (starting at $39.99; halloweenexpress.com and starting at $35.76; amazon.com)

Leg Avenue Women's Creepy Clown Costume (starting at $27.95; amazon.com and $34.99; halloweencostumes.com)

Annabelle Costume ($54.99; partycity.com and starting at $54.99; amazon.com)

'Us' Red Jumpsuit Costume (starting at $12.50; amazon.com)

Create a 'Midsommar' look with this Smock Dress ($103; asos.com) and Flower Crown Headpiece ($12.99; amazon.com)

Best Disney Halloween Costumes

Disney costumes aren't just for kids — especially given how many Disney classics have been rebooted in recent years. Thanks to the success of Disney's live action "Aladdin," ever-popular Princess Jasmine costumes are even more ubiquitous than usual. "Toy Story 4" has boosted interest in the usual subjects — Buzz, Woody, and Jessie — but Pinterest also reports a major increase in searches for Bo Peep. "Mermaid" is a trending search on Pinterest's report as well, likely due in large part to the upcoming live-action "Little Mermaid."

Genie Deluxe Costume ($75.97; halloweenexpress.com and starting at $40.87; amazon.com)

Women's Arabian Princess Costume ($68.99; halloweenexpress.com)

Disney 'Aladdan' Live-Action Jasmine Costume ($59.99; halloweencostumes.com)

'Aladdin' Street Rat Costume ($49.99; amazon.com and halloweencostumes.com)

Jafar Costume (starting at $89.99; fun.com)

'Toy Story' Bo Peep Costume (starting at $45.95; amazon.com and $54.99; partycity.com)

Deluxe Buzz Lightyear Costume ($59.99; fun.com and starting at $48.60; amazon.com)

'Toy Story 4' Jessie Costume ($54.99; partycity.com and $27.74; amazon.com)

'Toy Story 4' Woody Costume ($49.99; partycity.com)

Undersea Mermaid Costume (starting at $49.99; halloweencostumes.com)

'Frozen' Kristoff Deluxe Costume (starting at $89.99; fun.com and starting at $57.81; amazon.com)

Best Superhero Halloween Costumes

Superheroes are pretty much never not trending for Halloween. Especially popular for women this year is Captain Marvel, who finally helmed her own movie this spring, though villainess Harley Quinn remains a top seller as well; in fact, Harley landed the seventh spot for most popular female costumes on Pinterest's report. Spider-Man and the Joker land third and fourth, respectively, for men's most searched costumes, undoubtedly due to the summer release of "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and the forthcoming "Joker" movie with Joaquin Phoenix. But really, after the success of "Avengers: Endgame," just about everyone from the Marvel universe is trending this year.

Deluxe Captain Marvel Costume ($54.99; halloweencostumes.com and starting at $36.45; amazon.com)

Modern Joker Costume (starting at $49.99; fun.com and starting at $34.83; amazon.com)

Deluxe Spider-Man Costume ($39; amazon.com and $54.99; halloweencostumes.com)

Property of Joker Harley Quinn Costume ($44.99; amazon.com and partycity.com)

Rubie's Black Panther Costume (starting at $34.98; amazon.com and starting at $44.99; halloweencostumes.com)

Rubie's Iron Man Deluxe Costume (starting at $37.23; amazon.com and $54.99; halloweencostumes.com)

Best Inflatable Halloween Costumes

According to HalloweenCostumes.com, the viral success of the inflatable T-Rex costume post-"Jurassic World" has pushed interest in inflatable costumes "through the roof." These days, you can blow up plenty more than dinosaurs. There is a huge variety of inflatable costumes to choose from in 2019 — including inflatable versions of some of our other trending picks!

Rubie's Official 'Jurassic World' Inflatable Dinosaur Costume (starting at $43.33; amazon.com and $43.99; partycity.com)

'Toy Story 4' inflatable T-Rex Costume ($86.64; amazon.com and $119.99; partycity.com)

Inflatable Alien Pick-Me-Up Costume ($59.99; partycity.com)

Inflatable Earth Costume ($44.99; halloweencostumes.com and amazon.com)

MorphSuits Giant Unicorn Inflatable Costume ($71.97; halloweenexpress.com)

'Aladdin' Inflatable Genie Costume ($59.99; partycity.com and $79.99; amazon.com)

Note: The price above reflects the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.