October 30, 2010

Vintage Halloween Countdown part 3: Costumes & Clothing

Many of us who opt to wear vintage styles on a regular basis may have encountered a scenario in which a complete stranger approaches you and asks you why you’re wearing a costume (or “if you’re going to a costume party?”). Of course, to anyone with one iota of vintage fashion knowledge, it’s blatantly clear that you’re simply recreating and honouring the styles of yesteryear as a gorgeous alternative to today’s mainstream fashion, yet to those for whom such a concept is alien, the asking of these sorts of questions doesn’t strike them as odd.

If you’re like me, you probably cast the person a polite smile and kindly let them know that, no, you’re not wearing a costume, but that you love vintage clothing from (insert your preferred decades), and that styles like this are what you choose to wear all the time. No need for an elaborate answer, unless you so feel inclined.

The reason why I bring this point up is because, as Halloween draws nearer, you may find that you’re asked such queries more frequently (in years past, I know that’s been the case for me). Don’t let it phase you though, in a sense such comments are veiled compliments attesting to your skill at recreating lovely period looks, and are generally not meant to be rude or noisy.

Keep in mind that one person’s costume is another person’s everyday garb. For example, the vintage styles that I wear are those from the 1940s and 50s. The looks of these decades comprise the bulk of my wardrobe and are my very favourite styles of all time to sport. To me they are not a costume, but rather my everyday attire (I actually feel significantly more comfortable in such vintage styles than I do in many modern day looks, the wearing of which often makes me feel like a fish out of water and a slave to trends), however if I were to suddenly don a very 1920s inspired look, this would feel somewhat like a costume for me, because it’s still quite different from what my everyday (fashion) norm is.

Whatever constitutes a costume for you, the key element is to have fun with it! To deviate – even just a smidge – from what you wear most days. You can opt to take on a whole near persona, become a favourite historical (or fictional) character, or just give your usual look a bit of a spin that sets it apart and lets others know you’ve joined in on wearing festive garb.

When Halloween rolls around, many of us who celebrate it do want to wear an actual costume – be it one with a vintage slant or not – and as such this edition of the Vintage Halloween Countdown is bubbling over with a terrific array of costume and fashion ideas (think Halloween hued items of clothing and accessories) that are imbued with a marvellously old school vibe.

~ * ~ Costumes ~ * ~

{Let your inner senorita runs wild in this gorgeous fire engine red (polyester) frock with generous sized ruffle collar, darling puff sleeves, and a sweeping skirt that is sure to get you noticed at any Halloween ball! “Lipstick Red Vintage Senorita Dress” (measures 15 inches from armpit to armpit and 13-14 across the waist), $42.00, from etsy seller Zwzzy.}

{I would have flipped over this costume when I was a youngster (I was mildly obsessed with playing “nurse” as a child and even went as Florence Nightingale one Halloween) – and you know what, I still would! It’s a marvellous piece of Red Cross history that proves, if you ask me, it's worlds more alluring, classy and beautiful than the modern day “sexy nurse” costumes you see everywhere this time of year. “The Cika American Red Cross Volunteer Dress” (fits up to a 36 inch bust/28 inch waist), $98.00, from etsy seller Bohemian Bisoux Vintage.}

{Oh-la-la, what a wildly playful little number this vintage leopard print costume is! Whether you wear it to channel Bettie Page or a Flintstones-eque gal like Betty Rubble, there’s no denying that you’ll be the cat’s meow! “Vintage Pin-up Cat Leotard Costume” (measures 19 inches from armpit to armpit and 15 inches across the waist), $50.00, from etsy seller Zwzzy.}

{“Give me a “V”, give me an “I”, give me a “N”, give me a “T”, give me an “A”, give me a “G”, give me an “E”, what does that spell? VINTAGE!” As in this incredibly charming red and blue vintage cheerleader costume from the 1950s, that is! Though one has to be very, very slender to fit into it (it measures just 25 inches at the waist and 34 inches at the bust), this darling costume is sure to look terrific on the lucky gal who gets to call it her own. “Vintage 1950s Cheerleading Uniform”, $73.00, from etsy seller Vintage Friends.}

{Like something that came floating off the stage of a 1950s production of Swan Lake, this angelically pretty, ethereally elegant vintage ballerina costume is a delicate work of art that is sure to entertain all who see it. Cream satin and tulle ballet costume (fits up to an 36 inch bust/32 inch waist), $39.99, from etsy seller Dolly Rocker’s Handmade and Vintage.}

{Full of zippy energy and a feeling of abundant jubilation, this regal yet light-hearted 1930s frock is the perfect piece in which to channel your inner flamenco dancer or Carmen Miranda (fruit hat optional ;-D). Vintage tiered black and multi-coloured, full length dress (fits up to a 38 inch bust/30 inch waist), $86.00, from etsy seller Scottie in a Canoe.}

{Nothing spooky about this wonderfully cool vintage Minnie Mouse costume, just pure vintage adorableness! Pay your respects to one of Disney’s most iconic gals with this darling red and black polka dot dress – just add a pair of mouse ears and white gloves and you’ll be the spitting image of Minnie! :-) “Vintage 1950s Minnie Mouse Costume” (fits up to a 38 inch bust/26 inch waist), $46.29, from etsy seller Firegypsy Vintage.}

{This energetic, sparkling sequin bedecked dress is nothing shy of fabulous! Rich in intricate detailing and teaming with costume potential (it could fit the bill everything from circus performer to princess), this fancy vintage frock fits up to a 36 inch bust/28 inch waist, and is available for $75.00, from etsy seller B Bernhard.}

~ * ~ Accessories & Jewelry ~ * ~

{Whether you prefer to go full-on Wicked Witch of the West or prefer to take your cue from Glenda, this incredibly pretty, handmade mini hat (which stays in place thanks to a comfy headband) is truly the perfect way to cap off any witch’s costume. Satin, Swarovski crystal, and ostrich feather “Sexy Glam Mini Witch Hat”, $49.99, from etsy seller Batcakes.}

{Diaphanous and beguiling, timeless and deeply elegant, this sheer black shawl wrap from the 1950s, with its beautiful bead work, would add such a feminine, mysterious touch to any Halloween get-up. Black chiffon shawl with colourful beading (measuring 22” wide x 57” long), $24.00, from etsy seller Connie’s Closet.}

{Dangling and jangling, these immensely cute vintage inspired Halloween charms are such a terrific way to add a dose of festive fright to any ensemble – while still ensuring your look positively fashionable in the process! “Old Time Lanterns Charm Bracelet”, $55.00, from The Vintage Halloween Store.}

{Amazing as part of a grand costume or simply worn on their own – say with an alluring black pencil skirt – these immensely fun bat tattoo print thigh-high stockings are such a fabulous way to inject some Halloween cheer into your wardrobe. Bat tattoo stockings, $18.00 per pair (available in various sized, check seller’s store to find your size), from etsy seller Tattoo Socks (note that they also carry this design in knee highs and nylons).}

{These delicate, almost web-like black lace gloves (complete with lovely little cameo detail) would make such a splendid addition to a plethora of Halloween costumes, from witch to Victorian lady, fortune teller to zombie bride (I love them so much, I’d happily wear on Halloween and all 364 other days of the year, too!). “Black Lace Cameo Gloves with Satin Bow” (one size fits all), $25.00, from etsy seller Dark Pony Designs.}

{Far more adorable than frightening, this wonderfully fun hostess apron is just the thing to sport either as part of – or over top of (while serving party guests) – your Halloween costume. “Spooky Owl Night Vintage Inspired Halloween Tulle Hostess Apron” (measuring 70 inches across the top including waist ties), $40.00, from etsy seller Flapper Girl.}

{One would be hard pressed to find a more fitting handbag to carry on either Halloween or Día de los Muertos (on November 1st). This eerie yet sweet black velveteen purse is made by Lux De Ville and features an image of two sugar skulls, as well as a lush blood red fabric rose and patent leather handles. “Black Velvet Sugar Skull Kiss Lock Purse” (measuring 14" x 9" x 5"), $68.00, from Plasticland.}

{Stylish and seductive, these orange feather adorned sleeves ("hand-less gloves") would look stellar as part of a witch, burlesque, vampire, songstress, Hollywood diva, or masquerade ball costume (to name but a few!). “Coraline Feather Gloves” (available in sizes small and large, however the sell is happy to make a pair for you in custom size, as well as to alter what colour feathers are used), $65.00, from etsy seller Adieux.}

~ * ~ Clothing ~ * ~

{Ravishing, utterly and completely ravishing – like something Grace Kelly might have donned if she was hosting a swank Halloween fete in the 1950s this phenomenally elegant black and pale orange cocktail dress is a true work of art. “Peach Satin and Black Crepe Accordion Pleat Shelf Bust Dress” (fits up to a 36 inch bust/26.5 inch waist), $165.00, from etsy seller Planet Claire Vintage.}

{Glistening like inky hued stars on a crisp October eve, this chic (and wonderfully versatile) beaded black (lamb’s wool, angora, and nylon) cardigan is the sort of deeply beautiful piece that you’ll want to wear year after year. “Dragon House 1950s cardigan sweater” (bust measures 40 inches/waist 28 inches), $57.00, from etsy seller Twirl Vintage Co..}

{This incredibly sweet, deeply appealing felt folk art skirt is amongst the loveliest vintage wardrobe pieces I’ve encountered this year. Featuring a swirl of autumnally hued leaves against a rust orange background, this magnificently lovely skirt (which fits up to a 26 inch waist), is pegged (by its seller) to be from the 1940s (I’d veer a bit more towards the 50s myself – but either decade is entirely plausible), and is one of those truly special pieces that looked fantastic sixty years ago, is stellar today, and which will be amazing for the rest of time. “Dances with Falling Leaves Skirt”, $95.00, from etsy seller Miss Farfalla.}

{If ever there were a more perfectly suited vintage swing coat for Halloween (and the whole fall season), I haven’t chanced upon it! Bold pumpkin orange and midnight black plaid call this captivating topper (which fits up to a 54 inch bust) home, and would instantly give any look a massive dose of Halloween pizazz and beauty. “1950s Vintage Plaid Taffeta Swing Coat”, $78.00, from etsy seller Buxom Babes Vintage.}

{Equal parts bombshell pin-up and glamorous socialite, this ravishingly pretty 1950s black lace wiggle dress is worth throwing a (Halloween) party for in and of itself! Measuring a lanky 54 inches in total, this enthralling frock features a playful mermaid tail style ankle hem, satin ribbon, and feminine bow detailing. It fits up to a 38 inch bust/31 inch waist, and can be had for $185.00, from etsy seller Miss Farfalla.}

{Heads are sure to turn when you wear this skull patterned, ribbed v-neck cardigan! Eerie white skeleton skulls stair out from a pumpkin-meets-cocoa brown background atop this spooky sweater, and would be sure a cool way to jazz up any Halloween season outfit! “Dia de los Muertos cardigan” (available in ladies sizes S/M and M/L), $49.99, from ModCloth.} 

{Understated sophistication radiates from this classically cut 1950s skirt, which, with its fallen-leaf orange and licorice black hued pallet, would be marvellous for any All Hallow’s Eve celebration. “Vintage Tribal Embroidered 1950s Skirt” (fits up to a 27 inch waist), $28.00, from etsy seller Mitu Vintage.}

{Wowza! This delightful orange and black hued 1940s era frock is equal parts one-of-a-kind art and pure clothing fun - and is definitely the sort of piece that will set you leagues above the crowd at any Halloween shindig! “Deco rust coloured dress with flare at the hips” (fits up to a 36 in bust/30 inch waist), $36.00, from etsy seller Emporium of the Forgotten.}

~ * ~ Shoes ~ * ~

{If you sat down and sketched out a pair from scratch, you’d be hard pressed to find shoes that were bettered suited to the Halloween colour pallet than these marvellous 1940s beauties! I could easily see these heels as part of a jester, circus performer, gypsy, or witch costume, but there really is no limit to their creative possibility! “Vintage Black Leather and Orange Suede Deadstock Oxford Pumps” (ladies size 7.5 B), $110.00, from etsy seller Small and Mousey.}.

{Simultaneously prim and flirtatious (thanks to the mesh insets and peep toe), these fantastically versatile 1930s black Cuban heeled shoes are the kind of footwear that would work with a myriad of Halloween costumes and day-to-day looks alike. “Vintage Sugar Push Black Leather Pumps” (ladies vintage size 8 3A), $38.00, from etsy seller Fab Gabs.}

{Almost too resplendently pretty to wear, these delicate 1920s era heels were once white or cream, yet they’ve faded with age and taken on a stunningly lovely vintage patina that teeters on rusty peach. These are the sort of show-stopping heels that would instantly elevate any Halloween (or bridal) costume into a realm all its own (wouldn't they be amazing as the shoes poking out from under a ghost costume?). “Antique White Leather Shoes” (contact seller for sizing info), $100.00, from etsy seller Zinnia Cottage.}

{Part pilgrim, part witch in terms of style, these neat 1930s velvet shoes feature a metal buckle and small elastic gore to make getting on and off a breeze. Wonderful heels to dance the Halloween night away in, these playful shoes fit approximately a ladies size 7 foot, and can be had for $60.00, from etsy seller Look Back Vintage.}

{Woven chocolate hued webs give this engaging pair of 1950s court shoes (pumps) a wonderfully spooky quality that make them the ideal footwear for Halloween! These unique vintage leather shoes are such great attention grabbers; they fit a (US) ladies size 10.5, and are available for $78.00, from etsy seller Little Bee Vintage.}

{You just know a vintage shoe is made for autumn and Halloween when it features darling little gold hued leaves set atop a sleek black background of (what appears to be) wavy stripped patent leather. “1950s Black Kitten Dancing Heels” (fit a ladies size 6.5 B), $40.00, from etsy seller Advintagous.}

{Whimsical, stunning and flat-out beautiful, these delicate melon and black stripped faille shoes are such sweet little gems. Ideally suited to all manner of Halloween costumes (but I can’t help thinking they’d really shine with a witch’s ensemble), this pair of 1930s heels fits a petite sized “6 A” foot, and is available for $65.00, from etsy seller Prance and Swagger.}

{Feminine and gorgeous, sparkly and mesmerizing, this flower bedecked pair of evening shoes would look so richly lovely with a range of Halloween costumes – from a regal homecoming queen to Frankenstein’s bride! “1950s/1960s Crystal Covered Heel Cinderella Shoes” (ladies size 7.5 B), $125.00, from etsy seller jd vintage.}

{Please note that unless otherwise stated, all prices above are in US dollars.}

There is something beguiling enchanting, deeply enjoyable, and wonderfully free-spirited about donning a disguise in the name of Halloween. I tricked-or-treated with gusto until I was 16 (being petite really came in handy in that regard – most people probably thought I was still 12 or 13, especially when I was with younger children), and when my 17th Halloween rolled around, I immediately realized that far more than the prospect of missing out on a free bag or treats and a night spent hiking around the neighbourhood (wonderful as those things were – and are!), the prospect of no longer getting to put on a costume each October 31st is what I stood to miss the most.

Fortunately however, just because one becomes too old to trick-or-treat, doesn’t mean we have to stop wearing costumes! Quite the contrary actually. As adults we have total creative license over what our costumes are going to look like, where we’re going to shop for them and/or what we’re going to use to make them ourselves. Costume parties and masquerade balls are not just for children by any means, and many a Halloween celebration for adults is made merrier by the wearing of delightful, spooky, creative disguises.

As the examples above show, there are scores of great ideas that one can opt for when you want to combine your love of vintage style with your passion for dressing up on All Hallows Eve. Have tons of fun with your costume, it can be as low-key or elaborate as you want. Entirely store bought or created from scratch, comprised of actual vintage pieces or just ones with that impart an air of nostalgic charm (and of course, even the most vintage loving soul amongst us is entirely free to select a non-vintage costume should they desire).

One final note, my sweet dears, as this post (for various reasons) ended up taking somewhat longer than I'd initially planned to come to fruition (and factoring into consideration that today is October 30th), this will be the last of the Vintage Halloween Countdown posts for 2010. I hope that it, and the other two entries in this miniseries, helped to fuel your creative Halloween fires – for both Halloween 2010 and many more years to come!

It’s been a joy counting down to my favourite holiday of the year with you all, and I want wish each and every one of your a frightfully marvellous, entirely fun filled All Hallows Eve tomorrow!


  1. Happy Halloween! Great item round up!!

  2. I love those tattoo tights and the gloves :-) have a very wonderful halloween!

  3. So many beautiful items! *swoons*

    Happy Halloween, Jessica!

  4. Thanks so much for featuring my gloves! xo
    Happy Halloween.

  5. Hey Jess! I have no idea what the bleep is going on, but I don't show I'm following you. I was wondering why I never saw you in the feed! It still won't allow me to follow you, but I wanted to say hello until I get to my home computer. Hope you are doing well honey!!! Kori xoxo

  6. I think that if people stop and comment on your 'costume' when it is really your everyday attire then you are overdoing the vintage look. It detracts rather than makes you look attractive. You will look just like that- decades old and outdated. Instead I believe there should be a balance between old and new, so that our entire outfit enhances our best features. Vintage style is nice but we want to look classically elegant... not like we are in a costume.