Victorian fashions changed considerably over the 19th century. However, Victorian clothes for both adult men and women have certain elements that help to make them recognizable. Unfortunately, many of the costumes that most costume shops sell as “Victorian” aren’t really Victorian. They’re just a mish-mash of 18th century, 19th century and modern Gothic styles. Here are a few tips to make your Halloween costume look like authentic Victorian fashions from the 19th century.
Victorian Vampire Halloween Costume
To create a women’s Victorian vampire costume, use 1890s costume clothing that Mina Harker would have worn in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Wear an underskirt with a small bustle. Add a full length skirt, a jacket with leg of mutton sleeves and a square cut neckline, preferably in a dark color such as black or charcoal gray. Also find some ankle-high black boots with a pointed toe. Curl your hair and style it in a bun high on your head. Arrange the hair in soft waves around the face. Paint your face white and paint subtle dark circles under your eyes. Wear heavy dark eye makeup. Wear vampire fangs. Add a small amount of red makeup near the mouth to simulate blood.
To make a men’s Victorian vampire costume, work to look like Dracula himself. Get a long black frock coat, a pair of striped black pants, a red waistcoat and a black top hat. Also find a collarless white button-down shirt and a detachable band collar. If you can’t find the collar, you can make one from white card stock. Wear a black or red Victorian Ascot cravat. Carry a walking stick. Find a long black opera cape or make a vampire cape using a sewing pattern such as McCall’s M4092.
Victorian Pirate Halloween Costume
The costume we associate with pirates today actually dates to the 18th century rather than the Victorian era. The clothing worn by pirates in the 19th century is hardly iconic. However, you can look to Victorian fiction for inspiration for Victorian pirate costumes. The Pirates of Penzance, a musical play written by Gilbert and Sullivan, is one of the best examples of 19th century pirate fiction. You could model your Victorian pirate costume Kevin Kline wore in the movie, Pirates of Penzance, which was produced in 1982. Get a white shirt with an open neckline and loose sleeves, black pants, black thigh-high boots, a multi-colored striped sash to go around your waist and another sash to tie around your head. Put on a black belt over the sash around your waist and insert a rolled-up treasure map on antiqued paper and a prop pirate’s sword.
For more Victorian pirate costume ideas, look at pictures from other productions of Pirates of Penzance which have been done since the play premiered in 1879.
Victorian Lady Halloween Costume
Before you start making your Victorian lady Halloween costume, you will need a corset and a crinoline petticoat with circular hoops to go underneath. Find a tailored jacket and flared skirt in polyester satin or velvet. Your dress can be in almost any color and can include a print such as plaid, a floral print or stripes. You can make your Victorian lady costume from a sewing pattern such as Simplicity 2887 or Butterick 3417. Add trim such as lace, silk braid, tulle, glass beads or sequins. Check women’s fashion plates from the 19th century to come up with additional ideas for your Victorian Lady Halloween costume.
Victorian Lord Halloween Costume
To start creating a Victorian lord costume, find a white shirt with a detachable wing collar and some striped trousers. If you iron the trousers, don’t make a crease at the front or back; instead, iron them flat. If you must hold up your trousers, avoid using a belt and use suspenders instead. Add a colorful vest in a material such as silk or polyester satin. Wear a Victorian Ascot cravat tucked inside the vest. Put on a dark colored frock coat to match or complement your trousers and wear a tall black silk top hat. Carry accessories such as a gold toned pocket watch and a wooden cane or walking stick with a metal handle. Add leather or cloth gloves to make your Victorian lord costume complete. Take a look at some Victorian men’s fashion plates to get inspiration for your Victorian lord Halloween costume.
For more costume ideas, read Halloween Queen Costumes for Adult Women, Alice in Wonderland Halloween Costumes for Adults and Easy Homemade Renaissance Halloween Costumes.