Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloweens Past

As I was browsing through my computer this morning, I came across some fun costumes from past Halloweens. Thought I'd share some pictures and how to's. Have a Happy Halloween everybody!

Last year around Halloween I got a little obsessed with watching The Tudors. A few weeks before Halloween I decided I wanted a Tudor gown so my Husband and I ordered some costumes online, thinking I had no time to make one. Well his turned out great, but mine didn't fit at all and was just a polyester mess, so two weeks before Halloween I bought fabric and stitched my little heart out! Actually I don't really remember rushing. Just sitting on the couch for days, watching Ghost Adventures and putting this together. Love it! I want to wear it again some day. I wish I had a picture of me in it.

It is worn over a shift, 16th century stays, a farthingale, petticoat and a bum roll. When I wore it, I also had a girdle. I found a gorgeous one at Sapphire and Sage.

Queen Eliazabeth: Schloss Ambras Portrait Girdle
from Sapphire and Sage

I modified a simplicity pattern for it and also got some help from my Tudor Tailor book. It's not the most authentic piece, but I don't worry too much about that for Halloween. The baroque pearls and fur are real - okay well they're cultured pearls, but whatever. The black work cuffs are hand stitched by me, using an authentic tudor design. The rhinestone/satiny braided bits at the neck are actually cut up headbands from Target. Always keep your eyes peeled for items that might work in a costume! You never know where you may find things...

The pattern seems to be based on the below painting of a young Elizabeth.

Now on to the 20th century. Ooo the flapper! This was an outfit that I did not lend one stitch to, however I wanted to share it because it shows you can generally always find things in your closet to make a last minute costume. And one that looks good too!

I tried to make appropriate 1920's layers, so under the dress there is a lacey bra for flattening (gotta get that boyish look!), tap pants (if you've never seen them, they're like silk shorts) and a silk and lace slip. I wore garters to keep my seamed stockings up, but you could also roll them down and rouge your knees!
The dress is by Juicy Couture and the shoes are peep-toe, T-straps from - I think - Nine West. The fur wrap is faux fur from Forever 21. The headband is from Target. The only thing I bought for this was the wig. I got it from a Halloween store. I've had really good luck with Halloween store wigs. You just have to monkey with them a little to make them more presentable. This one was smooshed flat so I fluffed it within an inch of its life and it didn't look half bad after that!

And a side note about 20th century undies. Check out What Katie Did. They have great faux vintage lingerie.

For the makeup, in my opinion, the two most important features for the 1920s are the eyebrows and the lips. My eyebrows are much thinker than this, so I smoothed them down with pomade. You can also use bar soap straight from the bar, wax or the special stuff you get at the costume store just for smoothing down hair. I don't know what it's called. Once I had them sufficiently flattened, I dusted them with powder and used a very opaque concealer to paint out the bottom half of my eyebrow hair, so just the top half showed dark. Then I used a brow pencil to draw out the ends past their natural length. For the lips I again used the concealer. With a lipstick brush I drew on the cupid's bow shape. For the rest of the face, for evening, you can use a dramatic eye and some blush. There's a great book about vintage makeup called Retro Makeup, by Lauren Rennells. She also a great hair book, too.

Clara Bow

Please excuse the weird "look up to the left" thing I was doing. I have no idea where that came from. Maybe it was the martinis...

From The Fedora Lounge

From Victoriana Magazine

The picture below was from a looooonnngggg time ago. Pictures of the rest of the dress have evaporated, but I wanted to show the hair and how to make those side curls out of your own hair (if it's long. If it's shorter it's pretty easy). I used a small barrel curling iron and got really close to the scalp. Careful! I used as much of the hair as I could in the curl without it getting too bulky, then fastened a bobby pin through the backside. The excess hair is left hanging out the back of the curl. Here this hair is pulled back and incorporated into, I think, a bun. You could do all kinds of braiding/curling/whatever back there. 


  1. Thanks again. I'm doing a Flapper/Goth thing for a party tonight, and I like the eyebrow info.

  2. Geez I must be daft! I never thought of Halloween as an opportunity to dress us in period costume. What a great idea. I could have had a party. Duh! And your outfits look fabulous!

  3. Haha heck yes! That's what halloween's for! I don't always find a period outfit - yes I was a "sexy" cop one year oh jeez let's forget that ever happened - But I always think it's more fun to go dressed from another time. You're almost always guaranteed to have the best costume, since everyone else is probably sporting the sexy cop... I live in Vegas so there's alot of sexy _____ (fill in the blank). However I don't recommend a full court panier or 1860's crinoline if your going somewhere crowded...

    Another idea, if you reenact or dress from a certain time period often, is to get out of your comfort zone and go as some completely different era. It also gives you an excuse to sew or put together a costume that you probably don't already have anything for, which is kind of a fun challenge.