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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Vintage Outfit Post-1920's Halloween Costume

As I'm someone who loves to dress up and adores old horror films, it should come as no surprise that Halloween is my favorite holiday, (with Christmas a close second.)   

I celebrate the dress up aspect of Halloween all year, but I still decided that I wanted a Halloween costume, not one that was too costumey, and preferably one from the 1920s.  I am firmly convinced that the 1920s  and 30s were the golden era of Halloween costumes.  Beautiful paper dresses,many hand made,  with charming appliqués where popular.

Witches, bats, cat's, jesters and clowns where all common themes.



These enterprising young ladies transferred themselves into gorgeous spider webs:

and some pin ups apparently stuck with their swim suits, and the ubiquitous pointy cap:

Still one of the most popular halloween looks in the 20s and 30s was a simple dress with Halloween themed cut outs, as worn by this charming lady (I love that her cat is in the photo). 

This type of dress is what I wanted for myself and what I found last year from the amazing Etsy shop Guermantes Vintage, she specializes in rare items from the 20s and 30s and is a bit of an expert in  Halloween dresses and costumes.

My costume is a beautiful witch dress.  These photos are from last year, when I had the blog on hiatus.  My dear husband is very sweet about taking pictures but I wanted to give him a break as these pictures from last year are just fine, and of course I plan to wear the dress quite a bit this October.  I don't wear it as a costume, I just wear it about (and yes I wear it to work too.)

 It's not paper but its some kind of shiny fabric with a big pilgrim collar and paper cat cut outs.  

It's meant to be one size fits all so its quite loose and I cinch it with a black ribbon at the waist.

Rather then that pointy 20s dunce cap/witch hat I added a pretty fall floral clip from Chatter Blossom.
I also pinned on a black cat brooch from Mrs. Polly's lucite.  (Sadly my cat has lost one of his eyes, but I've decided that just makes him match up with one of my favorite Edgar Allan Poe stories so its all good.)

The best thing about this dress though is that it reminds me of one of my favorite films.  The silent classic, Haxan, from 1922.  It was made as a  documentary but is really a horror film and exploration into the history of witch craft.  It contains some of the most beautiful , and spooky, images every captured on film.  

Haxan can be viewed in its entirety on you tube and also Hulu.  It's a cinematic classic that has had a profound influence on film making.  The critically acclaimed 2015 film The Witch definitely owes a debt to Haxan.

Here's to celebrating Halloween all  October long!


  1. So much Halloween goodness in this post! <3 I've seen pics like these of the old Halloween costumes and Halloween pin ups but I never knew or gave much thought to what the Halloween costumes were back then. That's quite interesting to learn that they worn paper dresses with appliques in the 20s and 30s. I love the true vintage dress that you've found and I am so excited to see Miss Polly's Lucite's cat brooch on your dress. I've been wanting this brooch but sadly was too late buying. Hopefully it will pop up again. :) Love the film clips too! So dark and atmospheric!

  2. Looks fantastic! And if you change the collar to white, you can probably wear it in November as a pilgrim....just sayin'.

  3. The Spiderweb outfits are the best! And your outfit is wonderful as well. Happy Halloween Season!

  4. I knew you would have a knock out post on Halloween costumes. And you make a very pretty witch, sort of a "Bewitched" type witch.

  5. Oh wow, that dress is a great find! I just adore 1920's halloween outfits/costumes. I love the idea of dresses like yours, which can be worn as a simply festive outfit during October rather than being strictly a costume just for Halloween.

  6. I love Halloween
    Lily & Edward

  7. Your Halloween outfit is very pretty! I love the fall floral clip!

  8. very cute! i love those style of halloween dresses, and you look great. i also really love that halloween pin up bathing suit! and those spider webs!

  9. I'm loving your outfit, and the fact that you don't just plan to wear it for Halloween. The vintage Halloween images are fantastic! xxx


  10. I love this outfit with the floral clip and cinched waist. Bet your students adore it too. Of the old costume photos the spiderwebs are my favorite!

  11. Heh, I was going to mention Guermantes in the comments, and then got to where you said you'd got your Halloween dress from her. A treasure indeed!

  12. Oh, Kate, this is simply incredible! What a rare, magnificent garment and gem of a Halloween outfit. Your the absolute picture of vintage Halloween loveliness.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

  13. Oh, that's so cool! Love it with the cat pin - and that's awesome that you wear it to work. Those images from the film are definitely spooky!! I see that even in the vintage days, sexy was in! I honestly thought "sexy kitty", "sexy spiderweb" "sexy Whatever" was a more recent phenomenon.

    (Also love that red lipstick on you! Not sure I can pull that look off! I've never been able to find the perfect red lipstick for my skin tone.)

  14. This is such a special piece to own and I think it's awesome that you wear it regularly in October. I can just imagine my great-grandmother and her siblings making paper costume dresses in the 20s!

  15. Oh my, you look incredible! This dress was made for you, you look beautiful! xx

  16. I just love your Halloween costume,you really look adorable


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