Costumes evolve from supernatural spooks to creative characters

Every year on Halloween people dress up in costumes to celebrate. Originally, these outfits were not meant for festivities, but to ward off evil spirits. During the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, people wore scary costumes and made bonfires to protect themselves from ghosts. Since then, Halloween has evolved into an exciting holiday for people to dress up however they like. The most popular costumes include witches, ghosts, clowns, pirates, and vampires.

 In the 1870s, when people began dressing up in costumes, there were no store-bought costumes so people made their own. They primarily dressed up as witches and ghosts. In the early 1900s Halloween costumes became more popular, and even schools celebrated the holiday. During the 1910s and 1920s, children wore disposable paper costumes. These costumes were designed to be worn once, then thrown away. Paper costumes set the foundation for the boxed character costumes of the 1930s and 1940s. Boxed character costumes allowed children to dress up as their favorite cartoon or book characters. They were very well known, but only wealthy families wore them due to their price. Following World War II, they became more affordable and accessible for middle-class children. In the 1950s, as television became more popular and accessible to middle-class families, Halloween costumes were heavily influenced by trending TV shows. Children dressed up as their favorite characters such as Mickey Mouse, Orphan Annie, and Superman. Television would prove to be a lasting influence on costumes for decades to come.

Progressing to the 1960s, costumes of characters from “Barbie” and “The Addams Family” grew in popularity. With the release of “E.T.” in the 1980s, all children wanted to dress as the alien. Due to the rise of horror films like “Halloween”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “The Shining”, “Gremlins,” and “Friday the 13th,” costumes transformed into disturbing depictions of gore and conveyed violent messages. In the 2010s, following the release of the movie “Suicide Squad”, Harley Quinn became one of the most widely known Halloween costumes and has continued to dominate the costume market.

 Costumes influenced by trending TV shows and movies create an exciting environment during Halloween. Popular group costumes include Disney villains, the Spice Girls, Minions, and superheroes. Although media trends tend to determine desired costumes, people still find ways to be creative with their costumes and express themselves.