How Halloween Costumes Have Evolved Over the Years

  • by Jacob Riff

Americans have been wearing spooky dresses for Halloween ever since the celebrations of the event started in the country in late 19th century. However, popular cultural variations, political events, and famous movies have heavily influenced people’s choice and ideas of Halloween costumes, and they keep altering the way they dress every other decade. 

For example, in the early 1900s, people would love to craft eccentric outfits at home to wear for the Halloween. But now the costumes have been evolved into a cultural phenomenon, and people are generally inclined towards ensembles that depict popular TV shows and movies. For instance, attires from Toy Story and Harry potter are highly popular among the modern kids.

In today’s piece, we will unveil how the Halloween costumes have evolved over the years and what compels people to adopt a certain style.

Late 19th Century (1870-1900)

Since there were no costume-selling stores at that time, people would knit their own witch and ghost costumes. They wore dresses that were epitomes of classical horror and showcased the interests of masses. In addition, anything that seemed exotic and foreign was also a popular choice. For example, children would feel delighted after wearing Chinese dresses. Likewise, American girls would also stich attires that were similar to the outfits of Egyptian princesses. 

Early 20th Century (1900-1930)

The early 20th century was the time when things started to evolve. Though the efforts were still homemade, now the costumes were mass-produced and the celebrations had also reached the schools and colleges. Most people wore aprons on which peculiar shapes of cats, dogs, and witches were printed. Similarly, the trend of paper masks also got popular. Wearing masks was not meant to look like a ghost, but to appear dreadful and creepy. Most importantly, it was also the first time that the yellow, purple and orange colors became part of the standard Halloween color scheme.

Mid-20th Century (1930-1960)

After 1930, the focus of Halloween shifted toward keeping the children occupied and entertained. As a result, the costumes contained plenty of stuff that children enjoyed and adored. For example, the characters from popular comic shows, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Tinkerbell, became a pivotal part of every costume. It was also the time when big stores began producing and selling famous Halloween costumes. However, those costumes were expensive and only the well-off were able to afford them. Therefore, most families continued knitting their own Halloween outfits that portrayed kids’ favorite characters.

Late 20th Century (1960-2000)

With the advent of television trend, the culture of TV characters became more prevalent. Characters from Flipper the Dolphin and Captain America were being adored and emulated. The period from 1970 to 1980 is dominated by the movies as everyone wore what they would watch in their favorite movies. In 1978, John Carpenter’s soul-crushing movie “Halloween” introduced an element of horror in the event that wasn’t seen in the past.  Similarly, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial got released in 1982 and took everyone by storm. It was also the time when people wore Captain Underpants Costumes and capes, like Superman. The influence of movies on the Halloween costumed continued till early 90s when brands, such as McDonalds and Tootsies Rolls, began encroaching upon the lifestyle of everyone.

Modern Period (2000 to Today)

The modern period has experienced a blend of popular cultural and political influence on the Halloween costumes. In the early 2000s, people would wear t-shirts that advanced the motto of their favorite political parties. Similarly, they would also idolize their favorite singers and movie characters. Things took a dramatic turn in 2015 when it became clear that everyone took inspiration from the modern cultural events and popular games –no matter how loathsome or disgusting they were. Right after the release of Apex Legends game in 2019, the costume of Octovio Silva, a playable legend in the game, became an all-time favorite for the kids.

Nowadays, people like to emulate Marvel movie stars and out-of-the world characters. If you want to know what you should wear in the upcoming Halloween, just pay heed to the popular events and big stories, and you are ready to immerse in the unending charm of this event!

Tagged with: Halloween

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