Oct 9, 2010

The Best Halloween Costume Ideas Begin With Vintage

You are invited to a costume party. Whatcha gonna do? Spend your disposable income on a disposable packaged costume? Fork over big bucks for a costume rental? I have a win-win solution: start with authentic vintage clothing for a brilliant costume, and add a great piece to your wardrobe forever!

Let’s start with what promises to be a popular theme again this year: Mad Men. Recreating the swank atmosphere of an early 1960s cocktail party is easy with these swell threads, clockwise from left: pink suit from 11karri Formal to Grunge Shop; floral skinny sheath dress from Flannery Crane; tucked waist dress from Vintage Goodness; and boucle jacket from Retro Threads.

But why not dial it back a decade or two? With the right hairdo (or wig) and makeup, these gorgeous 1940s-1950s day and evening dresses will transform you into your favorite star of the silver screen: Lena Horne? Lauren Bacall? Marilyn? Elizabeth Taylor? Sophia Loren? Doris Day? It’s your fantasy….have some fun!

From left: knit sweater/skirt set and party dress, both from Catseye Vintage; black chiffon/velvet cocktail dress from Jonquil; full-skirted day dress by General Whimsy.

Midcentury not your cup of tea? No problem! Whether you’re thinking Cyndi Lauper, Dynasty, or any Pop Tart of that decade, I found some killer Awesome Eighties choices.

Dresses from (left to right) Erstwhile Style, Haute Country Vintage and Ikonic.


In the 1970s, men were peacocks, so this is a great era for the guys. Think outside the white 3-piece suit for some authentic Disco Era gear.

Clockwise from top left: Bold blue print disco shirt from Runz With Vintage; leather jacket from Bird-in-Hand Vintage; abstract leaves disco shirt from Kitsch Wear; and nerdy scoop neck sweater vest from Beta Por Homme.







Some vintage clothing invokes a specific character. I managed the rental department of a huge Chicago costume shop for four years, and every October we needed to “name” our period costumes and true vintage clothing. See if you see what I see in these!
Clockwise from left: This authentic 1940s dress from Flannery Crane makes the ultimate Lucy! Next, color block 80s sweaters, like this one from Beta Por Homme, are perfect for Cliff Huxtable (The Bill Cosby Show) or Sam Malone (Cheers). Several years ago, Three Amigos was a popular costume theme. That may have passed, but this adorable and authentic child’s mariachi costume from Nacho Kitty is still spectacular!

Back to the grownups (who are kids at heart), the sweet pink vintage baby doll dress from Beta Boutique is perfect for Shirley Temple, just add sausage curls and a big lollipop. Last, but not least, say it with me: Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! This drop-waist 60s dress from Three Chicks Vintage just screams The Brady Bunch.

Maybe you’re in the camp that believes Halloween is for sexy? Sexy witch, sexy vampire? These luscious dresses will fit the bill for Halloween, then stay at the ready year-round for the next time you want to attract attention.
Potentially scary and definitely vampish dresses from (left to right): Dusty Rose Vintage; Runz With Vintage; and DaisyToad’s Vintage.

In my experience, a lot of guys just want something simple. We have that covered, too. Here are some sweet pieces that make instant costumes.
From left: this vintage mohair cardigan from 11karri Formal to Grunge Shop works for Ward Cleaver (Leave It To Beaver) or even Kurt Cobain. Next, what guy doesn’t want to be Hugh Hefner for a night? With this smoking jacket from Catseye Vintage, you can do Hef with minimal effort. And this Hawaiian shirt from Cowgirl Junk works for Jimmy Buffett, a Beach Boy (or any surfer dude), or add a camera 'round your neck and black socks with your shorts to be Tacky American Tourist!

Vintage clothing not only makes an easy costume, but a versatile one, too! Lots of 1970s-80s styles harkened back to earlier times. So these gowns can be a different costume every year, simply by changing your hairdo, makeup and accessories.

From left: Gunne Sax gown from Flannery Crane could be Karen Carpenter or a hippie bride this year, then add a Gibson Girl wig for Victorian next year; another Gunne Sax from Haute Country Vintage that could be totally 80s or Edwardian, depending upon how you finish it; and this ruffle embellished prom gown from Minicoops Vintage would make a delightful southern belle with the addition of a hoop skirt.

Here’s another tip: if you wear your vintage clothing plum out, you still have a great costume. Just shred it, cover it in fake blood, and you’re a Zombie!

Let‘s face it, Halloween is about fantasy. Many a mild-mannered woman steps out in something she wouldn’t wear in public any other day of the year. So I want to close with some spectacular vintage lingerie I discovered. Whether you are creating an 80s Madonna look, an old-time saloon girl, Liz Taylor’s famous scene in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, or just want to take Prince’s advice and “wear lingerie to a restaurant,” these pieces will make you feel beautiful.

Vintage lingerie (clockwise from top left): black lace teddy from Theda Bara; pink crinoline slip from Haute Country Vintage; sheer black full slip from Cemetarian; red lace bustier from Fancy Pants and More; and hand-dyed camisole by Lagelle.

Whew! That’s a lotta vintage. And I didn’t even touch on vintage hats, neckties, jewelry, handbags and all the other goodies that will make yours the most spectacular costume ever. Or….if you’re lucky enough to be a talented seamstress, you can purchase vintage patterns from Etsy Vintage Team members to create a Halloween costume that’s both authentic and brand new. So let loose, have fun and go Vintage this year!

10 comments:

Vintage Linens said...

Love the clothes, the blog, all the Etsy Shops and the Etsy Vintage Team. I'll be happy to promote at Vintage Linens on Facebook.

Callooh Callay said...

Wow, what a great collection--something for everyone!

Three Chicks Vintage said...

What a fun costume party!

Suzanne@threepeats said...

Very fun ideas to create a unique Halloween costume that no one else at the party will have!

Laurie Wilt-Walker said...

Great work here, you've done a fantastic job finding all these and putting them together!! Your inspired ideas are spot on!!

Moddities :: 20th Century Vintage said...

Fantastic selections! The Etsy Vintage Team has such a wonderful variety of shops and styles!!

Catseye Vintage said...

Looks Great! Thank you for including my dresses and men's smoking jacket.

frenchee le trip said...

What a fun writer you are! Great eye, too. You've got me all jazzed up for Halloween.

Hauser said...

You made a really great collection here!

Earl Flournoy said...

Yeah, actually my wife gets to use her 60's dresses and New Born Free wigs the most during the Halloween season. Not to scare people obviously, because those dresses and wigs make her look prettier, but to recreate vintage looks. Our daughter is starting to dig it, too. Why do you think this became a trend? It's perplexing, but I surely hope that it goes on forever. I love vintage!