Halloween Costumes Over the Decades

In the early 20th century and for the next couple of decades, it was usually adults who dressed up in costumes for the annual Halloween parties they attended. Kids dressed up also but not as much as adults then.

In fact, dressing up for all types of holidays or events was very popular with adults. They would dress up on New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Easter, especially with costumes for many other occasions, along with popular dress balls and costume masquerades.

But what type of costumes? For Halloween, mostly spooky themes for costumes were used such as moon symbols, darker fabrics for some costumes; anything that you could get and make that would kind of suggest or replicate something dark and otherworldly.

Among the white population in the United States, portraying other races or cultures was also very popular. The Far East or the Middle East as far as other cultures were popular and using ‘black-face’ make-up was used to dress as African-Americans. Most costumes were home-made, commercial costumes available in the early 20th century were usually paper masks or aprons for children.

Halloween, in the 1930s, became strange with hundreds of teenage boys flipped over cars, sawed-off telephone poles and engaged in other acts of vandalism across the country. Concerned adults started organizing neighborhood activities like trick-or-treating, haunted houses and costume parties to keep young people from causing trouble. This new focus also led to new types of costumes for kids.

The kid’s costumes were characters from popular radio shows, comics and movies such as Mickey Mouse. By the 1950s mass-produced box costumes became more affordable, so more kids began to use them to dress up as princesses, mummies, clowns or more specific characters like Batman and Frankenstein’s monster. There were cowboy costumes, and there was also the type of “Indian costumes” that Native Americans found offensive.

By the early 1970s a new trend especially adults was to wear a mask that looked like a famous politician person. The first two were President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon. During the 1970s the Nixon mask continued to be one of the most popular presidential masks long after he resigned as President.

With more slasher horror movies of the 1980s, masks and costumes were very popular and then sci-fi movies also were another character costumes that everyone wore. In 1995 with the O. J. Simpson trial, such as mask set all records for sales. In the 2010s it has been princess costumes, Star Wars characters, superhumans (Wonder Woman, Superman, Bat Man, Iron Man, etc) that have been favorites. Also, anything very scary is a hit.

Photos: Vintage homemade costumes, Middle East Costumes, Mickey Mouse costume, Nixon mask and Trump mask.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Creepy Ancestors at Halloween

All Hallows Eve for Adults

Scary Surnames

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