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  • Nina Butts

Halloween Costumes Through the Ages

Dressing up is a celebratory staple for Halloween, but what kind of costumes were your parents wearing? What about your grandparents? Here are some of the top costumes for all ages from the past that could make easy costume ideas in 2019.

1920s - Clowns

Before “IT” and “IT: Chapter Two”, clowns were a recurring Halloween costume in the 20s according to Carolyn Menyes of in this article. Inspired by images of the Pierrot clown, a trope in French and Italian plays, the clown costume was achieved with white and black makeup and baggy white clothes.

1930s - Minnie and Mickey Mouse

The beloved Disney characters first appeared in 1928 and became popular costumes when the 30s arrived. According to Menyes, Halloween was also becoming more commercialized, and licensed character masks were appearing on shelves.

1940s - Witches

According to Menyes, the 1940s introduced a theme with costumes still seen today: sexy costumes. Sexual liberation and pinup girls appeared and were reflected in the Halloween costumes of the decade. Witches were simple Halloween looks in decades past, but were given a sensual spin in the 40s.

1950s - Cowboys

In an American Profile article, Katherine Foreman said, “Halloween costume manufacturing became a booming business.” Commercially-made costumes based on TV and comic book characters appeared during this time.

1960s - Superheroes

According to Foreman, rubber and plastic superhero masks made dressing up as beloved comic book characters easier. With “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame” released within the last two years, superhero costumes are still popular. Spider-Man is the third most popular costume among children in 2019 according to this USA Today article.

1970s - Star Wars

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” or at least in 1977, the “Star Wars” franchise appeared. According to Carine Lavache in this Cosmopolitan article, “If you weren’t channeling ‘Star Wars’ in 1977, what were you even doing?” “Star Wars” costumes continue to be popular with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” coming to theaters this December.

1980s - Celebrities

The rise of popular culture in the 1980s meant the styles of different celebrities became easy Halloween costumes. In this Best Productsarticleby Brian Murray, Jr., Madonna’s signature style was replicated in Halloween costumes in 1983. Other popular celebrities were wrestler Hulk Hogan and Michael Jackson. Popular movies of the time that became Halloween costume ideas were “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Ghostbusters.”

1990s - “Power Rangers” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”

Both franchises found equal footing as Halloween costumes in the 90s according to Lavache, Menyes, and Murray, Jr. These are both easy ideas for group costumes.

2000s - “Harry Potter”

“The boy who lived” and his wizard friends became popular costume ideas in the early 2000s, according to Lavache and Murray, Jr. Today, characters from the “Harry Potter” franchise are easy and recognizable costumes with their iconic robes and wands.

2010s - Pop culture

Once again, pop culture has taken over Halloween. Except this time, it’s not just celebrities, it’s political icons, TV show characters, and children’s movie characters. According to Menyes, movies like “Frozen” took over 2013, “Suicide Squad” was a favorite in 2016, and Donald Trump has been a popular costume since 2016.

What will be the most popular costume of 2019? Check out to participate in a poll about the top costume for this year.

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