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5 only-in-San Francisco Halloween costume ideas that are on point for 2023

Costumed inflatable dinosaurs approach each other while trick-or-treating on Treat Avenue in Bernal Heights on Monday, October 31, 2022

If it feels like this past year—and the last month, in particular—has been exhausting, you are not alone. Many people haven’t even bothered thinking about a costume for Halloween, which is why The Standard puts together a list each year. Here are five Halloween costume ideas laced with local commentary.

A Heavily Guarded Stick of Deodorant

Nothing says San Francisco like a single stick of Old Spice deodorant being guarded like you’ve just entered Fort Knox rather than Walgreens. The great part of this costume is its interchangeability: You could just as easily go as a heavily protected toothbrush or loofah. Supplies needed to pull off this chic look include plexiglass, a padlock and a call button. 

Cough syrup, frequently stolen from Walgreens at 2690 Mission St., is locked up behind plastic cages. Police data shows that the store has the second-most reported thefts in San Francisco. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

Bonus costume: When someone you meet on Halloween presses the button, make sure one of your friends—wearing a drugstore uniform—takes somewhere between 8 and 18 minutes to come over and unlock the precious goods.

Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF)

A supremely tousled and curly head of hair, a hoodie, cargo shorts and tube socks are all that’s needed to pull off the SBF look, but it might also be worth adding an FTX logo and rabbit-earing the pockets to truly nail the look of the notorious crypto baron.

Sam Bankman-Fried at a Stanford Effective Altruism club event at Stanford University in October 2021. | Source: Courtesy Mehran Jalali

Bankman-Fried is currently on trial for allegedly bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars by secretly diverting and commingling cryptocurrency funds. Once viewed as a wunderkind worth as much as $26 billion, SBF is now in custody and facing up to 100 years in prison for money laundering.

A lot of people lost their shirts in the FTX collapse, but a few celebrity endorsers—Warriors star Stephen Curry, NFL legend Tom Brady and curmudgeon comic Larry David—made a killing for a minimal amount of commercial appearances. If your friends get involved to create a group costume, make sure whoever goes as SBF springs for margaritas.

Sweet James

It’s uncertain just how much money “Sweet James” has spent plastering his visage on billboards and Muni bus advertisements, but the bearded and bespectacled personal injury attorney, James Bergener, is a ubiquitous presence in San Francisco.

A Sweet James advertisement on a Muni bus on Columbus Avenue in North Beach in San Francisco on Thursday, Aug 3, 2023. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

He also has a wild backstory, growing up Mormon in Utah before getting his law degree, launching his law firm and exploring a “world of sex, drugs and rock & roll” with ex-wife Noella Bergener, an alumna of Real Housewives of Orange County.

Sweet James addressed his hard-charging lifestyle in a YouTube video posted early last year, saying he has since “focused on being a better person” for himself and his son.

Hollywood actor Danny Trejo would certainly vouch for this costume, as he once appeared in an ad for the city’s most prominent personal injury attorney.

“Not even the cougars of L.A. are enough to scare me,” Trejo said. “But if I get into an accident, I’m calling the boss: Sweet James.”

Sexy Robotaxi

One great thing about a story that says no one is talking about people having sex in robotaxis is that, eventually, people will read the story and start talking about people having sex in robotaxis. It’s the definition of a story coming full circle.

Cars maneuver around a Cruise car stuck on Balboa Street after Day 1 of Outside Lands 2023 in San Francisco on Aug. 11. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

It leads to spontaneous moments when two people riding in the backseat of a quiet, driverless robotaxi might happen to cast a meandering gaze upon one another and think, “Eh, why not?”

Similar to last year’s golden toilet costume—inspired by San Francisco officials attempting to spend $1.7 million on a single public bathroom—it’s important that all Halloween attire gets properly sexed up.

How does one make a robotaxi sexy? Maybe put a Sweet James ad on the back.

Doom Loop

There simply isn’t a funnier and more easily explained costume than the “Doom Loop,” the concept that a negative belief cycle based on a series of events—the pandemic, worsening street conditions, a business exodus and free-falling tax revenue—can reinforce and perpetuate more self-destructive narratives and events.

People cross the intersection of Montgomery and Sutter streets in the Financial District in San Francisco on June 26. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

All this costume requires is a hula hoop, notecards and some deeply depressing conversation. Just don’t try to offer any tours while in costume.