Fearsome Friday – Halloween Costumes

Although dressing up in costumes and begging door to door on or around the 31st of October goes back a few centuries, it appears our modern day trick or treating only took on its current form in the 1920s to 1930s. The top five most popular costumes of the time were ghosts, witches, devils, monsters and skeletons. Clown costumes seemed to be quite popular in the few photos I have come across too. The costumes of the time were almost always home-made with papier mache masks. Both children and adults would dress up in costumes. To me they seem almost creepier than modern day costumes.  Here are some photos I found of early costumes:

When I was a child growing up in the 70s and 80s I remember there being a mixture of home-made and store bought costumes. I can remember favouring popular characters of the time. I do not remember many adults (aside from my parents) dressing up in costumes for Halloween. The best home-made costume I ever had was when my mother made me into Smurfette. The worst store bought costume I ever had was that of Apple Dumpling from Strawberry Shortcake, it was one of those horrid plastic costumes with the awful plastic masks just like the one in the picture below. I loved it right up until the strings got knotted at the back and I couldn’t get out of it.

Here are some more Halloween costumes from around the time of my youth:

Now days anything goes for Halloween costumes from home-made to store bought and anything in between. Popular characters from books, films and television as well as traditional spooky costumes all show up. Adults seem to be just as into it as kids and they sometimes have the most fantastic costumes. Make-up effects now look like they have been done by movie studios, contact lens change the way eyes look and vampire fangs that can really stick on your teeth (I have some) all of these make for pretty convincing monsters.

Here is a video highlighting the modern trends from last years NYC parade (it is a long one):

Oh and did I mention Halloween isn’t just for people anymore?

So what are you going to be for Halloween this year?

 

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About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a primary and middle school teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three and a wannabe author.
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12 Responses to Fearsome Friday – Halloween Costumes

  1. Do they practice Halloween where you are in England? Is it the same as in the US?
    Yes, the older costumes from the early century ARE creepy. :-)

    • When I first moved here I was very disappointed with Halloween. We live in a very built up area with loads of kids so I got excited and thought we would have lots of trick or treaters but we only had one the entire night. About three years ago there was a change and I am not really sure what prompted it (commercialism in shops or vampire films/books) but suddenly Halloween decorations, costumes and parties started being advertised as early as August/September. Last year we had at least 20 trick or treat groups and when I was out with my own kids we saw quite a few. I have one house near me (owned by a practising wiccan witch) who even does a spooky graveyard or creepy scene by her house for Halloween.

      The kids don’t say trick or treat most of the time – they says pennies for Halloween. They want money not candy. I give out candy though!

  2. Holy moly, those shots from the 30’s are fantastic – I wonder if it’s the full-face masks that make it seem so disturbing.

  3. scribbla says:

    Thanks for digging up the old pics. The oldest ones are fantastic. Creepy indeed!

  4. I’d be interested in seeing what you come up with. The old masks make their costumes.

    Nowadays, as per that NYC Village video, the entire body effect makes the costume. Some of them were absolutely magnificent.

    I get my fun from handing out candy to the kids on Halloween now. There aren’t nearly as many as there used to be, but I think the sickos who stick razor blades in apples and inject drugs in chocolate bars are to blame.

    • You are so right about the decline of trick or treating due to the scare factor. I only take my kids to a handful of houses with people we know well. I usually do a little party for them at home but this year I am glad there is going to be a party run at their school during the early evening.

  5. I’m going as Elvira. Was surprised to hear that they don’t make her costume anymore. Had to piece it together myself.

  6. I’m going to wear regular clothes, and when asked, claim that I’m dressed as a homicidal maniac because they look just like everyone else. (Remember that movie?)

    And is it just me, or does that Apple Dumpling mask have its own creepy air to it. Maybe it’s the cut out eyes, but it looks like the kind of thing a sadistic stalker might wear.

    • I think there is something creepy about those old flat not very dimensional masks. Perhaps putting one like it on and then having a black and white grainy photo taken would make them as eerie as the ones from the 30s.They are scarier than the new latex ones in my opinion.

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