Vintage Halloween Costumes Your Grandparents Wore

October 24, 2019  - by 

If you’ve never asked your grandma or grandpa what they wore for Halloween, you’re missing out. Sometimes we think that all those old photos are stiff and unsmiling, but hidden among your ancestors’ memories, you might find some great ideas for vintage Halloween costumes.

Many people today put a lot of money and effort into their costumes, but our grandparents and great-grandparents often did costumes the old-fashioned way—by hand and with great care.

Some of the old costumes below are very authentic looking, while others are fun, cute, or silly. Whether you are looking for costume ideas or just a fun Halloween read, we hope you enjoy these costumes we found in FamilySearch Memories!


Do you know what your grandparents wore for Halloween?


18th Century Vintage Costumes, about 1900

What is more vintage than a costume from the 1700s? If you like colonial and old European styles, you will appreciate the effort this couple went to for their Halloween parties. Evelyn and her companion sported these delightfully authentic, vintage Halloween costumes at a Halloween party and masquerade ball around 1900.

18th century ballroom costumes for Halloween.
Couple dressed in vintage ballroom costumes.

Prize-Winning Costumes, 1920s

If you’re going to go all-out on your Halloween costume, you ought to be rewarded. Both of these ladies from the 1920s won prizes for their lovingly-made costumes. Dressing up in avian splendor and impersonating “Night” itself, each shows off her creativity and attention to detail.

Prize-winning bird costume from 1920s.
Old photo of girl dressed as Night for Halloween.

Vintage Little Bo Peep, 1914 and around 1975

Going vintage doesn’t mean you have to let go of your childhood favorites. The Little Bo Peep costume on the left was handmade for a little girl back in 1914. With the lace-up bodice, fancy collar, and sleeves, it certainly reminds one of the nursery rhyme’s age (dating back to the 16th century). On the right is a more modern interpretation but still vintage. This checker-dressed and cotton-covered couple went to a party as Little Bo Peep and her sheep about 40 years ago.

Vintage Little Bo Peep costume made in 1914.
Couple dressed as Little Bo Peep and her sheep in 1975.

Cute Vintage Costumes for Kids, about 1900, 1930, and 1970

If you need ideas from the past for cute kid costumes, here are some we found. The image with the wagon was taken in the 1900s and is one of those fun memories with a whole group of neighborhood kids on Halloween. Whether they were dressed as soldiers, police officers, fairies, or toys, these children are sure adorable!

Photo of children in Halloween costumes, taken in 1900s.
Children dressed in fairy costumes for Halloween in 1930.
Children dressed in vintage toy costumes for Halloween.

Witch Costumes, 1911, 1946, and about 1950

Witches from every decade tend to have unique looks. While pointy hats are popular, they aren’t always necessary. These women from the 1910s, 1940s, and 1950s probably enjoyed creating their own version of a witchy Halloween.

Young women dressed as witches in 1911.
Young woman excited for Halloween in 1946.
Young woman dressed in her homemade witch costume, 1950s.

Clown Costumes, about 1914, 1920, 1930, 1934, 1952

Requirements for a vintage clown costume: spotty, baggy, funny—and cute? If you’re tired of the clown costumes you’ve seen in your own neighborhood on Halloween, take a look at these cute vintage costumes from the past. Also, who needs face paint when your toddler already has adorably dimpled cheeks?

Vintage clown costume from about 1914.
High quality, old clown costumes from 1920s.
Toddler clown costume from the 1930s.
Little girls in clown costumes, old photo.
Little boy as a clown for Halloween, old picture.

Vintage Costume from the Teens, about 1950

If you are fond of pinstripes and want to go vintage, look no further. This couple look very fashionable in their costumes that hail back to the 1910s, or teens. Don’t they look a lot like Harold and Marian from The Music Man?

Couple dressed in 1910s clothing for Halloween.

Pirate Costumes, 1953 and 1982

There’s nothing better and more traditional than doing a pirate-themed costume for Halloween. With pirates having been around for hundreds of years, it is no surprise that these boys chose to be pirates in the 1950s and 1980s. Who knows, your grandparents might have been among the pirate ranks during their Halloween trick-or-treats!

Two little pirates from 1953.
Pirate dressed up for Halloween trick-or-treats, 1982.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse, about 1970

For our last vintage Halloween costume, we chose another one that is both traditional and fun. If you want to go trick-or-treating as your favorite cartoon character, your parents or grandparents may have already tried out some good ideas.

Couple dressed as vintage Mickey and Minnie mouse for Halloween.

So, now’s the time. If you want to know what your ancestors wore for Halloween, ask your mom, dad, grandparents, and other relatives if they have pictures—and don’t forget to take some of your own!

Visit Memories on FamilySearch.org to learn more about how you can add photos to the Family Tree and keep them in the family for generations.

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