100 years of Halloween costumes

Emma Minnick, Editor-in-Chief

Halloween has been celebrated in America since the 1840s, but organized Halloween events did not become popular until the 1920s. With this, America saw a rise in trick or treating, dressing up, and other spooky celebrations. Today, costumes are one of the most important aspects of Halloween. But how did people dress up in the past century?

1920s: In the 1920s, costumes were homemade and generally based on concepts rather than characters. Masks and face paint were especially common. Popular costumes included clowns, witches, and wearing a Jack o’ Lantern as a hat or mask.

1930s: During the Great Depression, people were looking for fun in any way they could. So, despite the poor economic conditions, Halloween continued on. People wore homemade costumes of cats, bunnies, and other animals. At this time, Disney films debuted, and characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse were common costumes among kids.

1940s: The ’40s saw a boost in trick-or-treating, and kids hit the streets wearing rubber masks of their favorite characters. More and more families were buying costumes rather than making them. Popular choices included characters like Popeye, the Looney Tunes characters, and Tom and Jerry.

1950s: Television saw a big boom in the 1950s. Children wanted to dress like their favorite characters like Little Orphan Annie and Peter Pan. With the rise of western films, dressing like cowboys was a go-to for many young kids, especially boys.

1960s: Now more than ever before, Halloween was ruled by pop culture. People, especially teenagers, dressed as real people like the Beatles and Twiggy. The most widespread costume was the superhero. Superman and Spider-Man were two very popular options.

1970s: The costumes of the 1970s continued the trend of dressing like your favorite characters. Some popular options included Barbie, Scooby Doo, and especially Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang.

1980s: In the ’80s, Halloween was all about film, especially science fiction. Movies like “ET” and “Star Wars” led to tons of alien and futuristic costumes. For teenagers and young adults, Halloween became scary again, and bloody, creepy costumes became popular with the rise of slasher films.

1990s: Group costumes were growing popular in the 1990s. A bunch of friends could dress up as the “Star Trek” crew, the Power Rangers, or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Around the ’90s, “geek” culture was gaining traction, so sci-fi and comic related costumes increased in popularity.

2000s: Y2k was the era of the popstar, and trick-or-treaters reflected this. Stars like Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez were a common costume choice due to their glitzy and iconic looks.

2010s: In the 2010s, Disney costumes were back! The release of the animated film “Frozen” led to many children dressing up as Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. 2016, arguably the most significant year of the 2010s, saw satirical costumes of politicians like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and more risque costumes like Harley Quinn in “Suicide Squad.”

2020s: Obviously, time will tell what costumes are the most influential of this decade, but so far, Halloween has been ruled by characters like Baby Yoda and Scarlet Witch, as well as concepts like cowgirls, angels, devils, and fairies.

Halloween is almost upon us. So, next time you visit Party City, think about the costumes of the past. Maybe you can take a page out of your grandparents’ book this Halloween season!