Masks and costumes have been worn to festivals and masquerade balls for centuries.
Nowadays, Halloween is the most popular fancy-dress event of the year. Do you need costume inspiration for guising, trick or treating or a fancy dress party?
Here are some top Victorian picks from the fancy dress costumes in our collection to inspire your choice this year.
If you’re thinking about reusing a costume from a previous year, then you’re not the first. This dress was reused too! It was first made during the 1770s from silk brocade. It was altered during the 1880s as a fancy dress outfit that included fashionable elements of the late-Victorian era, such as a point at the bottom of the bodice.
The machine-made lace was a Victorian add-on too. Silk was valuable, and clothes were often unpicked and reworked into something more fashionable.
Or how about matching costumes? This boy’s cream satin fancy-dress costume was made in the late 19th Century. It is in the style of an 18th Century outfit with brocade jacket, waistcoat and knee breeches. Childrenswear in the 18th Century mirrored their parent’s clothes. Little boys often dressed in small replica outfits matching their father’s.
Will you look at world cultures for your fancy-dress inspiration? National dress and folk costumes inspired fancy-dress during the late Victorian era.
This Bolivian-inspired fancy dress costume dates to the early 1900s. It shows how elaborate fancy dress costumes of this period could be. The lilac silk skirt has a matching fitted bodice decorated with cream lace. The net headdress has been stiffened with wire.
The cultures of the Middle East and Asia have long been a source of inspiration within fashion, design and the arts. The exotic and elaborate costumes of India were attractive to Victorians and inspired many fancy dress costumes. This cream silk Indian outfit has a robe-style jacket decorated with gold thread and beads, salwar trousers, shirt, cummerbund, hat, shoes and a peacock feather fan.
For the Victorians there was no end to fancy-dress themes, with partygoers taking inspiration from animals, history, royalty, the military, the seasons, literature and fairy tales. What will inspire your costume this Halloween?
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