Halloween costumes of years past

So, I was thinking of my Halloween costumes years past…
Here’s what I can remember:
1. Angel (I vaguely remember my mom ordering wings from Sears and them almost not coming in on time)
2. Flapper (I did not look like a flapper– I did wear one of my mom’s old 1970s style dresses. No fringe, but I did have a bob)
3. Beethoven (poet shirt, black pants, teased hair)
4. Witch
5. Witch (same costume)
6. Martha Washington (my mom got married in 1976; this was her wedding dress which was also her bridesmaids dress for her sister’s more opulent wedding that year)

… That’s all I can remember. There may have been a few more witches in there. And I KNOW that at some point I wore one of those cheap plastic pinny costumes with a cheap plastic mask once our town got a Walmart, which was a huge relief to my mom, but I cannot for the life of me remember what– maybe Wonder Woman? I’m pretty sure there were no black-face or Roma or Ninja costumes in my past.

One of the things about being rich is that on the years that my MIL doesn’t just send Halloween costumes, we can go to Target or to a Halloween supply store (last year DC1 needed a costume zie could play violin in Target was out of non-offensive things in hir size that allowed violin playing) and spend $30 and get a costume that will last long enough to be passed down.  No need for creativity or effort!  DC2 is going as a Ravenclaw this year (DC1 is 12 and maybe shouldn’t be trick-or-treating, but if zie does, zie will reuse hir grim reaper costume).

What Halloween costumes do you remember from your youth?

25 Responses to “Halloween costumes of years past”

  1. Steph Says:

    I know I was Dorothy once in preschool, because I have the picture. In kindergarten I was a bride of all things (using the dress from “my size barbie”). At various points through high school, I remember Winnie the Pooh, a Chiquita Banana, a hobbit, Jules from Bend It Like Beckham, Guinevere, and a lady knight (same dress as Guinevere, except I had a wooden sword and shield from the Renn Faire). Unfortunately I was also a g*psy at some point, in middle school I think.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I just remembered that I was an addressed envelope one year! That was a pretty cool costume (made out of me-sized poster board, my face was the stamp). Though I couldn’t sit down and the costume couldn’t get wet.

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    Cow. I dress as a cow a LOT.
    One year, as a pirate.
    For a few years, when my cow costume was defunct and I hadn’t yet been gifted a new one, I dressed as a monarch (long gown, crown, scepter). I would walk around telling people that I hadn’t yet decided what to wear for Halloween, and sometimes people would start offering suggestions for costumes . . . which I thought was very funny. I guess I dress kind of over-the-top much of the rest of the year, and I just naturally give off the monarch vibe!

  3. D.L. MacLaughlan Dumes Says:

    When I was six I wanted to go out as a beatnik, so my mom made me a princess costume instead. The next year I was Supergirl. Then for my last Halloween at twelve I was Helen of Troy. I still want to be a beatnik.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      beatnik and princess seem pretty different(!)

      I vaguely recall dressing up as a beatnik, but I think just to go to school. I would wear a black turtleneck and black jeans and my father’s black greek sailor’s cap.

  4. SP Says:

    “my mom got married in 1776” Haha, the dress must have been VERY historically accurate then. :)

    Kid: Skeleton. Pumpkin. Doctor. Witch. Vampire. There must have been more that I can’t remember.
    Adult: Bumble Bee (DIY costume that I posted about https://stackingpennies.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/diy-bee-costume-9/). Evil Fairy (as an adult because my friend had an old costume). Cat/lion, I think I just got ears and a tail and called it good.

  5. Matthew D Healy Says:

    Hmm. As a child I did geeky stuff like robot or waking encyclopedia. As an adult I usually wear a wizard’s robe and pointy hat covered with geeky stuff like equations, Unix/Perl/R commands, etc.

    Never wore Halloween costume that would be problematic if somebody dug up old pix and posted online.

  6. bogart Says:

    Oh gosh, my best Halloween costume by far in terms of emotional investment and craftiness was a horse costume I made with a friend. We crafted a cloth body of some sort and made a paper-mache head; I think the idea was we’d take turns being front-and-back. It turned out not to be very usable and I forget what we did — maybe one of us used the head and another dressed as a rider? It was still fun.

    No old Halloween costumes are standing between me and a successful political career…

    • Matthew D Healy Says:

      The horse story reminds me an old joke: my grandfather worked at a Manhattan Project site during WWII. It was a big secret what that site did; folks in the nearest town joked that it was a gigantic factory to make front halves of horses, to be assembled into complete horses in DC where they had plenty of the other end!

  7. Debbie M Says:

    Can’t remember them all
    Child – hippie, g*psy, little kid, Native American
    Adult – man, snowflake, picnic table, tornado, static cling, the ocean, barbecue sauce, Willie Wonka, Wednesday Addams, half a double-stuffed Oreo (partner costume)
    This year – Greta Thunberg, and I’m going to try out vegan Swedish “meatball” recipes to hopefully bring a yummy one to the party I’m attending

    Some of these were probably offensive (and my cluelessness about whether they were actually offensive is also offensive). Definitely my costume for a friend’s white trash party was (as was the whole party), and I knew it at the time, but I decided I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to actually offend anyone who would see or hear me.

  8. becca Says:

    I remember witch, Barbie (with the plastic mask!), minnie mouse, a bear-fairy-princess (this was me trying to be “creative” and ending up “confusing” to most grown-ups), a regular princess, a box of puppies (got the idea from the American Girl magazine), a bunny when the box-of-puppies got to be too much to carry, the grim reaper (I sewed this cloak).
    My BEST costume was definitely the Energizer bunny. My Mom spraypainted a toy drum pink and printed out an “Energizer” logo to tape to it.

    I’m sure there were others. I know at least one picture of me with a construction paper feather headband existed at one point, but that was for school unit on “Thanksgiving” not a costume I chose.

  9. teresa Says:

    Sadly I definitely remember being Pochahantas in 4th grade :(
    Otherwise I also remember being a clown, a witch (probably more than once), a black cat, a pioneer (a couple times and also once Dr Quinn Medicine Woman which meant wearing the same dress and saying something different), a jester, little red riding hood, and Stevie Nicks.
    I very much went trick or treating until I was 15. Maybe even 16. Which would have been 11-12th grade…So 12 seems totally reasonable.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think it’s generally ok to be a specific person but not an anonymous member of a demographic group, so long as you don’t wear stereotypes for accessories (ok to dress in Michael Jackson thriller costume, not ok to wear blackface and wig—wig is ok if you’re black). So if it was an off the shelf Disney costume movie tie-in it was likely fine. Not so much if it included warpaint and feathers.

      • teresa Says:

        Would’ve been a few years pre-disney-movie. The costume was actually my mom’s campfire girl uniform from the 60s (which, the existence of the uniform is problematic) and I think a beaded headband. But yes, generally I think being a specific historic person is okay and my intent as a kid was basically positive- I thought she was cool for being a bridge between two societies as a young woman. What I think bothers me about it as an adult is that the way that individual was presented (then) feels like buying into a very pro-colonist/erasing atrocities against indigenous populations kind of narrative. Also that (being pre-disney) if someone just saw a picture of the costume they would not know it was intended to be an individual rather than an ethnicity. (although at least it wasn’t disney sexy-fied?)

  10. Matthew D Healy Says:

    I wonder what percentage of people in the Netherlands have dressed as Zwarte Piet for Christmas events? Fairly common over there, I gather! If you don’t know who Zwarte Piet is, look up in Wikipedia.

  11. accm Says:

    My mother made me several costumes (including a flower one year and a butterfly another time) which I sadly did not appreciate properly at the time. I definitely remember dressing up as a pirate many times later on. And naturally I dressed my boy/girl twins as Luke and Leia when they were babies.

  12. Leah Says:

    My favorite costumes from my childhood are being Carmen Sandiego and being a space princess (my mom made a glittery silver tunic, and I wore a crown and a rainbow tinsel wig). I did a lot of being a black cat, a witch, I was Jill Frost (white snowsuit with snowflakes hand painted on it), a lady pirate . . . that’s all I can remember.

    In grad school, I once dressed up as leaf litter and thus did sponge paint my face brown and have a leaf or two painted on. That was for Halloween. We also dressed up for Darwin Day — I was leaves changing color (easy enough to reuse part of the costume) one year, and the other year I dressed up as the Red Queen Hypothesis.

    I don’t dress up any more but do sort of miss it. I just don’t have the time/energy with little kids. I ended up buying costumes this year, but I have made costumes before. Last year, one kid was a bee and the other was a flower patch, so I made the costume for the flower patch.

  13. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I hated everything about Halloween as a child. Having to *repeatedly* talk to people? Could you just kill me instead? That would be much better. Having to dress up so people would LOOK AT ME? It was like the whole world hated me in that day. I only remember being forced to wear a ladybug costume one year and thinking it was at least nice and warm. But I have eshewed costumes ever since.

    I MIGHT be willing to almost dress up this year though, in a “I have the clothes that mostly match this costume” kind of way.


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