Halloween is a holiday where people eat candy, ghost people, and more importantly, dress up in a variety of costumes. Through the years, there have been many common themes in costume choices, but what have been the most popular outfits? Let’s look at the most common costumes starting from the 1800s.
For many kids, Halloween is just a holiday where you get free candy but this has not always the case. A Halloween expert, Lestley Bannatyne says that in the 1800’s, “The things that appealed to people were the things that they loved about Halloween, so you saw a lot of handmade witch costumes and ghost costumes. . .” (Lakritz). This explains why Halloween today revolves around black cats, witches, and ghosts. Even now we see people with blankets over their heads, or a pointy hat and wart.
Let’s look at how we went from being a bunch of witches to dressing up as Harley Quin, Pennywise, Katniss Everdeen, Minions, Ninja turtles, etc. The idea to dress up as “popular culture” rooted in the 1950s when most were watching television instead of listening to the radio, and people enjoyed dressing up as characters from popular movies at the time. This is when characters like Mickey, Bowinkle, Tinkerbell, and Annie the Orphan were especially popular. Similarly, today we also enjoy becoming our favorite characters on Halloween.
Now we also see a lot of horror and brandname costumes like M&M’s and Frankenstein. In the 1980s and 1990s these were very popular. The reason gory costumes were common in the 1980s is because, “John Carpenter’s bone-chilling 1978 movie ‘Halloween’ added an element of horror to the holiday that hadn’t been present in years past, paving the way for gory costumes in the 1980s” (Lakritz). It’s crazy to think about one movie changing Halloween culture, but it did. Although, in the 1990s, it got even crazier because practically anything was turned into a costume. People dressed up as McDonald’s, Tootsie rolls and much more. In the end, halloween costumes have really evolved throughout time. Next time you see a ghost, vampire, or Joker remember halloween history that brought that on, and finally Happy Halloween!
Graphic: Preethika Rao