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Five last-minute historical Halloween costumes

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Halloween, of course!

If you are still in search of inspiration, here are five fabulous and ridiculous historical costumes that really wouldn’t be that hard to make.

#5 Candy Girl:

Candy Kitchen Girl, 1902

Candy Kitchen Girl, 1890

To make: 1) Take any outfit.  2) Staple candy all over it.  3) Be most popular person at the party!

#4 Wild Men

The Bal des Ardents depicted in a ca. 1470 miniature from Froissart's Chronicles

The Bal des Ardents depicted in a ca. 1470 miniature from Froissart’s Chronicles

There is a long tradition of wild men costumes, and they are really easy to make: just glue grass and leaves all over a onsie.  Historical, awesome, and scary.

Just try not to light yourself on fire, OK?

A more modern (and less flammable) would be to go as a head of cabbage: just stick cabbage leaves to yourself:

Costume of cabbage or lettuce leaves, early 20th century

Costume of cabbage or lettuce leaves, early 20th century

#3 The Scrap Album:

"Scrap Album" fancy dress. Circa 1893, Made of silk, cotton, linen, paper, glue, metal (fastening), wood, leather, baleen, wax, and paint, England. Madame Gough, London (court dressmaker), Sarah Ann Gough (designer) National Gallery of Victoria

“Scrap Album” fancy dress. Circa 1893, Made of silk, cotton, linen, paper, glue, metal (fastening), wood, leather, baleen, wax, and paint, England. Madame Gough, London (court dressmaker), Sarah Ann Gough (designer) National Gallery of Victoria

Scrap Albums were fashionable throughout the later 19th century, and were just albums filled with cutouts of pretty images – they were so popular they could could buy specifically made pre-cut out images in thousands of themes.  I LOVE that this fancy dress actually is a scrap album, with real scrap album motifs applied to the dress.  It features everything from pheasants and fish to ‘peoples of the world’ along with the more common flowers, butterflies, and pretty maidens.

The clear modern equivalent would be going as Facebook or Pinterest – though I think irony is a mandatory inclusion if you are going as one of those. 😉

2) Scary Masquerade

Masquerade mask. 1780s © Museum of London via BBC Radio 4

Masquerade mask. 1780s © Museum of London via BBC Radio 4

To make: 1) Paint a mask black.  2) Cut a half-circle of fabric with pinking sheers.  Attach to mask.  3) Freak everyone at party out.

And finally, my favourite one of all…

#1 The Wastepaper Basket:

Wastepaper Basket costume, 1896

Wastepaper Basket costume, 1896

All you need is an outfit with a checked effect (to simulate wire) and all the paper rubbish you can find around the office!

14 Comments

  1. I think that last one is a bad idea: you should never arrive at a party trashed. Sorry, sorry, couldn’t resist!
    I’m going to be dressing up as a housemaid, with the half-apron I made towards Practicality, and an extremely unhistorical doily cap. And an ostrich-feather duster, naturellement.

  2. Barbara Stevens says

    You can still buy the paper picture scraps – you may have to search for them but they are around. I bought some recently at a Paper Power shop.
    Love the cabbage leaves – just hope nobody else goes to the party as a goat!

    • I think it actually makes total sense – the modern office was just coming into being in the Victorian era, and women were moving into offices as ‘typewriters.’ So a wastepaper basket is very topical, and reflective of what’s happening in society – which is often what costumes are about!

  3. I adore the costume ideas – and how utterly unfestive everybody looks in the pictures! Couldn’t they at least pretend that they are enjoying themselves?

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