Halloween is the perfect time to dress up as our favorite characters or have fun with gory or pop culture icons. How did it become a yearly tradition to dress up in costumes for Halloween? Here is a brief history of Halloween costumes.
In the USA, Halloween became a celebration holiday for kids during the early part of the 20th century. Cities and towns started organizing haunted houses and parades for everyone to enjoy. The aspect of trick or treating came about in the 1940’s, which is when the idea of costumes came into play. Back in those days, kids would do mimes or sing a song in exchange for a treat, and they started dressing up to match their talents. The costumes back then were all handmade, of course, with many magazines featuring instructions on how to make various costumes by hand.
Later on, these handmade costumes made way to costumes that were produced commercially. The most popular early costumes, many of which are worn today, include Dracula and Frankenstein.
In 1910, a company in Massachusetts, The Dennison Manufacturing Company, started to make costumes made of paper. Other companies made costumes during this time as well but it wasn’t until later on, when a costume company based in NYC, A.S. Fisbach, who had a license to characters from Disney partnered with the Ben Cooper Company to create Disney costumes like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck.
As for costume masks, the early ones were made from buckram by the U.S. Mask Company, out of New York. These buckram masks included clowns, animals and witches. It wasn’t until the 1950’s when latex masks came about. These masks were vacuum-formed and included popular masks from popular culture like Barbie, G.I. Joe and the Beatles.
Here is how the costumes have changed over the years, with the most popular ones based on notable events of that decade.
1920’s- Hobo, Charlie Chaplin and Pierrot
1930’s- Gypsy, Bellhop and Jester
1940’s- Zorro, Superman and Davy Crockett
1950’s- Marilyn Monroe, Car Hop and Baseball Player
1960’s- Space Ghost, Aquaman and Wednesday Addams
1970’s- Superman, Princess Leia and Evel Knievel
1980’s- Mermaid, Michael Jackson and Rubik’s Cube
1990’s- Buzz Lightyear, Jedi and Cruella De Vil
2000’s- Harry Potter, Spiderman and Mummy
2010’s- Captain America, Green Lantern and Alice in Wonderland
Today- Princess Anna, Minion and Zombie
So now that you know all about how it came to be that we wear costumes today, tell me, what costume are you weating for Halloween?