‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Halloween Outfits ‘Offended’ Some of the Show’s Makers

As The Handmaid’s Tale Season 4 grabs headlines, now is a good time to look back at one of the biggest controversies to come out of The Handmaid’s Tale franchise. The outfits from The Handmaid’s Tale are famous; however, their use as Halloween costumes upset many. Some people think this use of the costumes is inappropriate for a very specific reason. A fashion designer who worked on the show opened up about her opinion on Handmaid’s Tale Halloween outfits — and why she thinks they exist in the first place.

Elisabeth Moss with awards and women in The Handmaid's Tale outfits
Elisabeth Moss and women in The Handmaid’s Tale outfits | Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Hulu

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ costume designer on why Handmaid Halloween outfits are ‘odd’

The red and white outfits from The Handmaid’s Tale are worn by characters in the franchise who are forced into sexual slavery. These outfits became iconic and have been used in the real world in some very different contexts. Sometimes, protestors wear Handmaid’s Tale outfits to protest perceived encroachments on women’s rights, warning that the real world could become like The Handmaid’s Tale if women don’t have autonomy. On the other hand, sometimes these outfits are used as mere Halloween costumes with no political significance.

Natalie Bronfman is a costume designer who works on The Handmaid’s Tale. During an interview, Paper’s Katherine Gillespie said it must be strange for Bronfman to see people wear Handmaid’s Tale outfits and Bronfman agreed. “Especially sometimes on Halloween, I notice popping up on Instagram and a few other social media sites, men were dressing up in handmaid fashion,” Bronfman said “Like, are you aware of the significance? It’s really odd.”

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ costume designer on why Handmaid Halloween outfits exist

Afterward, Gillespie mentioned that there’s a sexy version of the Handmaid’s Tale Halloween costume. She felt the costumes missed the point of the show. Bronfman agreed.

“I have a huge qualm with whoever decided to do that because in theory, you are promoting the abuse of women,” she said. “It’s one thing to dress as a prostitute for Halloween, but it’s another to dress as a sexual slave. I just find it such an odd thing. I had a hard time with that. In our staff, we all were very offended and upset by it. I think someone pulled the trigger too quickly on manufacturing them, without actually thinking it through.”

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How a costume company reacted to the controversy of sexy costumes inspired by ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

The controversy surrounding the sexy Handmaid’s Tale outfits extends beyond Bronfman. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Yandy produced a Handmaid’s Tale-inspired red costume which feminist author Jessica Valenti criticized on Twitter. Valenti said wearing a Handmaid outfit was like dressing up like “existential despair.”

Yandy apologized for creating the outfit, saying it did not align with their philosophy of female empowerment. They ultimately removed the outfit from their site. Bronfman took issue with Handmaid’s Tale costumes — and so did many others.

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