Historical clothing, broad topic, huh? People have been wearing clothes since we shed that monkey fur. We've come a long way since the palm fronds of old. Although, sometimes it feels like we've come full circle when it comes to simplicity. Until the turn of the last century, clothing seemed to get more elaborate, but somewhere along the line our attitudes about pomp and flair changed. With a few exceptions (thank you, Alexander McQueen) clothing before the age of the machine was much more interesting than today's wardrobe. There's a reason we still love wearing Renaissance festival costumes. Those historical dresses embraced different lush materials, complicated pleating, and layers of lace. Even the somber colonial costumes had a sense of flair (in the most puritan sense). You don't see people walking around with buckles on their hats these days, do you? So, below is just a sampling of our very broad selection of historical costumes. We think it will give you some big ideas on how to engage with history in a new and fun way.
Speaking of pleating and lace, the Victorians weren't afraid of overdoing it when it came to detail. Elaborate detail permeated their décor, their writing, and especially their clothing. A typical gown could contain four different kinds of lush fabric, endless varieties of pleating, and pounds of lace. If you're having trouble deciding on something to wear this year, imagine all the work that went into planning Victorian Halloween costumes ! It must have been an all-year affair! Luckily for you, we’ve come up with some ideas for you and they’re already made.
Sherlock Holmes Costume
As much a beloved character now as he was in the Victorian era, Holmes’ genius for deducing the truth from minute details would come in handy in our modern era. He could figure out who ate the last piece of pizza that you had been saving for an after-work snack! His iconic overcoat and hat were needed for those drizzly foggy nights, tracking down clues on the London streets. His slick look beats a plastic poncho and is a great option for Halloween, a murder mystery party, or even an extra special book club get together. Just don’t forget to bring along his trusty pipe for those sullen moments of pondering.
The key to becoming a proper Victorian socialite is keeping those hemlines long, those necklines high and lacy, and those sleeves puffed. This dame has the look down, although she could use a cameo necklace if she’s heading to a formal affair. Wear this costume to an 1800s-themed high tea, Western reenactment, or a Victorian fair. Anyone would be lucky to have tea in your drawing room, they just might learn a thing or two about propriety!
Girls Steampunk Costume
Not all Victorian era costumes have to be historically accurate: it’s not as if those Victorians were a generation obsessed with facts. If you ever see illustrations on what the Victorians thought the future would look like, you might just wish for that alternate reality. Sure, woman were still wearing corsets in their year 2000 imaginations but they also drew up elaborate rotating houses and flying boats that were shaped like fish. No wonder people still long for that steam punk dream, where inventions were popping out like hot cakes, each more complicated and gear-stuffed than the last. A Victorian age when woman were judged for their inventions and not their ability to stay silent, yes please!
Boys Sherlock Costume
It's not just highbrow adults that are looking for super-sleuthing Sherlock Holmes costumes! In fact, kids tend to be more inquisitive than we know-it-all adults, making them great detectives. They aren’t afraid to ask the uncomfortable questions, which gives them an edge they could use to crack the big case. Just be careful how much you encourage that deductive reasoning: your detective might just put together why his candy stash looks smaller the morning after Halloween. Your Almond-Joy-thieving days could potentially be brought to an end.
The Renaissance , an era where people were rediscovering science and new trade routes were opening up, allowing silks and spices to arrive in the households of the very rich. Not that everything was sunshine and cinnamon. This was an era full of political violence and peasant uprisings. But hey, the clothing! The duds of this era were truly something to behold. While the era isn’t perfect, let's all agree to focus on the positive when we're donning our Queen Elizabeth costumes. Practice saying things like, “Forget the war, check out this brocade!” If you’re wondering if you’re embodying that rich Ren flair just add more jewelry, especially if you’re going as Henry VIII
Queen Elizabeth Costume
Her father started a new church just so he could divorce her mother and proceeded to continuously confuse the kingdom by beheading and divorcing a succession of wives. It's no wonder why Queen Elizabeth had no desire to link herself to a man before taking the throne. She had no desire to reign in her love of luxurious fabrics and jewels, either. In fact, the velvet, red brocade, and pearl details of this ensemble would have pleased her majesty very much. To make it clear that you’re the red-headed Elizabeth find one of our Queen of hearts wigs and don a couple strands of pearls and you’ll be a dead ringer.
During Queen Elizabeth’s reign her soldiers often had to stamp out rebellions against the throne. When they were sent to the northern lands her men knew they couldn’t afford to be distracted by the bone-chilling climate. A man focused on his mission would have worn layers. Leather gloves and a leather jerkin would have done double duty, helping the soldier stay warm and protecting him from minor scrapes and cuts in combat. The cloak with its fur collar and cozy gray wool would also work as camouflage as the soldier waited for the rebellious party on the moors of the highlands. This ensemble will demand respect from Halloween revelers or LARPing friends, just make sure you have the right sword ! With the faux leather, wool, and fur of this ensemble, you’ll look right at home when you saunter into Elizabeth’s court announcing your victory.
Girls Knight Costume
If you're looking for Renaissance fair costumes for your daughter, she's not limited to the precious princess circuit. We all know she could take on that fire breathing dragon like a pro, just put a sword and shield in her hand and she'd be ready to save the kingdom. Maybe you think she's too young, but Joan of Arc first got her heroic ideas around the age of twelve. It's never too early to give your brazen girl her armor, might as well be ready to face the beast when she's dressing for Halloween.
Boys Knight Costume
If you’ve been on the lookout for knight costumes for boys you know there are options out there. This ensemble will work for whatever quest they find themselves on from confronting ogres to recovering treasure from dragons. With a hood that looks like chain mail, a tunic, gauntlets, and boot covers your kid is ready to defeat anything. You could even dress his little sibling as a dragon so he has a worthy opponent. Finally, a sibling squabble that’s Instagram worthy!
Civil War Costumes
In the late 1800s, after years of brewing political unrest between the northern and southern states, the Civil war broke out, sending men throughout the country out to their tailors to be fitted for their military uniforms . Men on both sides went to war looking spiffy with double-breasted uniforms, tintype photographs of their loved ones, and shining boots. So if you’re reenacting a Civil War battle, do history justice and suit up in the uniforms these proud soldiers would have worn.
Union Officer Costume
The Union army struck a balance between the eye-catching bright red of the Napoleon Bonaparte costume that the French were embracing and the camouflage colors our soldiers would wear in the modern era. The sharp dark blue with the gold gilded buttons looked smart as they marched to war but blended into the woods as they confronted the rebels. Whether you’re more of a Ulysses S. Grant or a simple grunt, this uniform would make those Yankees proud.
Rebel Officer Costume
Politics and history aside, it’s undeniable which army had the better battle cry. There’s no whiskey called Northern Holler, although, if you decide to start that distillery do us a favor and send us a sample. When you’re staging a reenactment as General Lee this sharp ensemble will inspire those battle cries from your rebel underlings.
Abraham Lincoln Costume
We should toast to the man who kept our union together when our states were hanging by a thread. Or maybe we should just dress like him whenever we have to opportunity. This guy had style for a kid that grew up in the woods . As sad as it is we have to face that the days of presidents wearing hats bigger than a breadbox are over. Maybe this fashion trend will come back around four score and seven years from now.
Whether you’re dressing as a Union soldier for a costume party or a cemetery walk, your rifle has to match your ensemble. You can’t very well be dressed in your Union gear and carry an AK-47 . Although soldiers back in the day would have appreciated being able to shoot further than 80 feet and not having to load their rifle after every shot. Still, history is history! You don’t get to fast forward your weaponry just to get the upper-hand on the reenactment field.
Masquerade Ball Costumes
The love of costumes is far from a modern phenomenon. The first costumed bash was held in the 1400s with costumes made of pitch. These wild costumes would actually catch fire if dancers got too close to torches! Who knew Burning Man was such an old event? Historical Halloween costumes would have consisted of handmade masks, arsenic-based face paint, and borrowed wardrobes. Lucky for us, due to the wonders of the internet, we can put together ensembles that those courtiers would have only dreamed of. We can even paint our faces without risking arsenic poisoning. Isn’t that swell!
Masquerade Ball Costume
Masquerades have a dark and a light side. Of course, like so many other things in life, it’s a little more fun to go the dark route. This mademoiselle must have come to an untimely end when she was dressed in her finest. Well, it’s not a bad deal being eternally elegant. When you’re attending an event as the ghost of a masquerade reveler the key is the ghastly white wig and white mask , no one will know whether it’s the face of someone living or dead beneath the brocaded facade. But they will know you’re the life of the party.
A royal ball is a royal ball, and even royalty don’t get many invitations to balls these days. So when you do get to don that gown make sure it’s the magical dress you imagined. You can waltz until morning because this quality dress won’t turn to rags at midnight. Whether or not you want to dance in glass slippers is your choice. Lucky for you, we have a pair that won’t shatter. Your fairytale dreams can come true but if you want little birds to dress you you’ll have to train them yourself.
Mardi Gras masks are both a disguise and an accent piece. You can decide whether you’d like it to perfectly coordinate with your ensemble or stand out to bring attention to your pretty mug. Choose whatever shape you’d like. Whether you’d like one that only covers your eyes or one that leaves only your eyes showing , up to you. Just prepare to unmask at midnight!
We won’t claim to have done a Norwegian paleontology study to find the most historically-accurate Viking clothing, but we can promise to have better options that those cheesy thick, yellow braids and generalized armor that could easily be categorized under knight costumes. A Viking is anything but a knight, kowtowing to some stuffy king on a throne. Our Viking ensembles have the faux fur metal studded leather look to get your raiding career off to the right start.
Shield walls may have been their bread and butter but there were still long winter days waiting out bad weather in the long houses playing hnefatafl, a game that’s most challenging aspect was pronouncing the title. When they got to the battlefield, those Vikings had been preparing since they could hold walk. They protected themselves from biting swords and axes with their own crazy facial hair , thick leather, and fur. And once they began raiding Britain they began to have a taste for those fancy metal shirts. Before you make your Viking warrior debut make sure you pick up a sword and shield set , a Viking can’t join the shield wall without a wooden-viking-shield.htmlshield .
The bitter cold of the polar north isn’t going to stop this fellow. With fur-lined boots and armor he’s ready to conquer those pesky trolls once and for all. Renaissance Faire costumes don’t always have to be Godly knights and fair ladies , you could always show up in this barbarian ensemble to raid the mead hall. All you need is the beard to intimidate those tin can knights.
Womens Viking Costume
Not all Viking women were shield maidens , most women took control over the farms while other people raided and traded. The responsibilities of a Viking woman would seem overwhelming to us modern folk. There was the farm to run, babies to raise, fish to dry. Make sure your character has a decent weapon just in case the neighboring earl gets any ideas while your men are gone raiding. Although they looked lovely in long braids and fur-trimmed gowns, those tough Viking ladies knew how to protect what was theirs.
Infant Viking Costume
Norsemen started training early, like really early. When you’re donning your Viking gear there’s no reason Junior has to miss out. The sooner he learns to wear his horn helmet the better he’ll fare in the shield wall in a couple years. Who knows, maybe when you’re at that Norwegian festival he’ll get to try baby’s first lutefisk!
Greek Warriors Costumes
Those Greeks gave us a huge variety of characters to choose from with their varied islands, complicated history, and intricate mythology. With our options ranging from Medusa costumes to Spartan ensembles , you’re sure to find something to wear to your local chariot races.
Greek Warrior Costume
You know that Spartan training was intense when soldiers looked at wars as a nice respite from their rigorous training that started from early childhood. With so much time spent toughening up their soldiers, they didn’t have time to think about complicated fashion. So these men typically kept it simple, but we don’t mind. The bright white tunic with its leather and metal studded accents is a dashing look, just make sure you’ve got the Spartan sword and shield at the ready. All the training in the world won’t help a guy who sprints into battle unarmed no matter how gnarly your paws are.
Kids Hercules Costume
Zeus had plenty of step children but not one of them caused as much trouble and got more recognition than the mighty Hercules. It didn’t take his mom long to realize she might be raising a handful. When Zeus’s wife, Hera , sent snakes to the little baby’s crib, the infant quickly dispatched the serpents. Talk about a childhood cut short, with an angry Goddess as motivation it wouldn’t take long before a kid toughened up and had some child-sized armor made. If you wanted to have some family fun, pair this costume with Zeus and Hera for a semi-sweet family reunion.
Just like you shouldn’t take a knife to a gun fight or a toad to a frog fight, you shouldn’t take the Excalibur to the Battle of Salamis. Make sure you’ve got a proud spartan sword, it’s the only sword you’re allowed to wield while yelling, “SPARTA!”
Southern Belle Costumes
The southern belle had a balanced wardrobe that was at once demure and outrageous. Hints of their tendencies show up in their modern love of floppy hats<, bows, and big curly hair styles . Get into that sweet-tea-drinking, cricket-listening state of mind with this selection of ensembles.
Southern Belle Costume
Perfect for that cotillion dance or for that southern-themed tea, this dress is the epitome of what it means to be a southern belle. There are a few ways you can make yourself a real southern belle. Say, “I do declare” often. (It’s applicable to every situation!) Also, coffee is out, so you’re only allowed to drink sweet tea from now on. Oh! And try and hang out on a porch as often as possible. People will be referring to you as “that southern belle” in no time!
Girls Southern Belle Costume
It’s tough training to be a lady. First, your little one will need to carry books on her head for some reason. Honestly, that’s the only thing we know about finishing school, but that's okay! This dress will be enough to convince the masses that your little darling is a bona fide debutante. Just give her some gloves for the extra element of class and “bless your heart”, you’ve got a true southern belle in your residence.
Belle, yes, in the literal translation. Southern, yes, from Texas to California saloon girls were always the main ladies of those classic spaghetti westerns. Still, it might be a stretch to call this lady a southern belle. That said, if you’re looking for old-school burlesque costumes then you’re heading in the right direction. This fallen dove would feel at home, leaning on a piano, belting out a bawdy tune. Pair it with one of our saloon bartender costumes and you've got yourself a dynamic duo. Make sure you’ve got your fishnets and long gloves before you head to a Wild West casino night or a costume party. Keeping a poker face and dancing the night away comes naturally to the saloon girl.
Gone With the Wind Costume
This was one of the largest, longest, and most problematic movies ever made. So many things had to be considered while filming Gone With the Wind: costumes for a huge cast, the complicated casting itself, even burning the set of King Kong to film the burning of Atlanta, Georgia. Considering everything involved they did a pretty brilliant job with wardrobing the movie. Scarlet O’Hara wears plenty of show-stopping dresses in the three-hour epic. This costume is a more manageable version of the one Scarlet is wearing when she meets Rhett , who will fall in love and pine over her for twelve years. Was he obsessed because of the impact left from those green ruffles? Most likely. We’d say this dress was the most memorable dress in the film that isn’t made from curtains .