9 Vintage Photos of 20th Century Style to Inspire Your Halloween Costume

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9 Vintage Photos of 20th Century Style to Inspire Your Halloween Costume
Fashion has a large impact on the way we view history. Certain time periods have been defined by the styles that represented them. For example, it’s hard to imagine the Summer of Love in San Francisco without picturing tie-dye, bell-bottoms, and flower crowns. For those of us who feel like we were born in the wrong decade, Halloween is the perfect occasion to pretend we're living in the era of our choice. 

Scroll through the slideshow to see vintage photos of iconic styles from the 20th century, and start planning which style you’ll emulate (and how you’ll pull it off) for your Halloween costume this year!
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    Influential Style Throughout the Decades
    Fashion has a large impact on the way we view history. Certain time periods have been defined by the styles that represented them. For example, it’s hard to imagine the Summer of Love in San Francisco without picturing tie-dye, bell-bottoms, and flower crowns. For those of us who feel like we were born in the wrong decade, Halloween is the perfect occasion to pretend we're living in the era of our choice. 

    Scroll through the slideshow to see vintage photos of iconic styles from the 20th century, and start planning which style you’ll emulate (and how you’ll pull it off) for your Halloween costume this year!

    Photo by RV1864/Flickr
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    The Age of Opulence, 1910s
    Unfortunately for the women of this era, 1910 was still the age of the corset, originally worn in earlier centuries by women (and sometimes men) in both France and England. Luckily for those who want to revisit this decade with their Halloween costume this year, the corset wasn’t the only staple of female dress at the time. Long, flowy dresses with puffy sleeves characterized this period in women’s fashion. For the perfect accessory for your ensemble, don’t forget to add a brooch.

    Courtesy of Library of Congress
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    And All That Jazz, 1920s
    The flapper is an American icon, symbolizing a modern way of life for women of the Roaring ’20s. In this era, jazz music—originating in New Orleans and Chicago—and dance styles became increasingly popular, and as a result, many women ditched their corsets in pursuit of freedom, both metaphorically and physically. People challenged traditional ideas and celebrated personal freedom, dancing the charleston in city speakeasies. What a time to be alive!

    Photo by Kristie Bateman/Flickr
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    Glamour Girls, 1930s
    The decade of the 1930s was dominated by one monumental historical event—the Great Depression, which followed the Wall Street crash of 1929 in New York City. As a result, fashion in the 1930s became about wearing practical and reusable clothing that still looked glamorous in order to uphold the image of wealth. Men sported fedoras and double-breasted overcoats. Women wore below-the-knee dresses with shoulder pads, gloves, fur collars, and dainty hats. 

    Photo by Robert Huffstutter/Flickr
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    Sun Bathing Beauties, 1940s
    During this decade, Hollywood joined the fashion industry in ruling trends in the United States and in many parts of the world. The two-piece bathing suit saw its emergence in the 1940s, exhibiting a further departure from the ideal of modesty placed upon women in earlier decades. However, beauty standards were not fully progressive by any stretch of the imagination. A great addition to your 1940s California girl costume would be a bathing cap—not pictured here—often worn while swimming in order to protect carefully constructed hairstyles.


    Photo by netzanette/Flickr
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    School Girls With Style, 1950s
    The up-do is a staple of 1950s style, a symbol of the decade in the United States that fostered the nuclear family, and as a result, the housewife archetype. The circle skirt was hugely popular among young women as well, usually accompanied by a snug sweater, head scarf and peep-toe heels. The letterman sweater was also born out of this era, a fun costume addition for both men and women!

    Photo by Robert Huffstutter/Flickr
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    Free Love, 1960s

    The 1960s was a pivotal decade that inlcuded political involvement among youth all over the world. It marked a turning point for the civil rights movement in the United States. Protests sparked in opposition to the war in Vietnam reached London, Paris, and Berlin. It was the decade when “counterculture” was born. To revisit the era of “free love” with your Halloween costume, make sure to sport bell-bottoms, floral prints, unruly hair, and an open-minded attitude—and don’t forget your protest poster!

    Photo by RV1864/Flickr 

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    Stuck in Suburbia, 1970s
    Bohemian style, which dominated the 1960s, remained popular in many parts of the world during the 1970s. Frayed jeans, peasant blouses, mini skirts, maxi dresses, and hot pants were all hugely popular from London to New York City to Berkeley, California. Hippie style even infiltrated teenage suburban style, where bell-bottoms and sweaters worn by both sexes dominated the scene. 

    Photo by calebism/Flickr
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    Roll to the Disco, 1980s
    Roller skating got a boost in the 1970s and reached new heights throughout the 1980s with the boom of disco music and style. Whether it was in the roller rink or on the Venice Beach boardwalk, roller skating was the way to be seen throughout this decade. To play up your 80s-inspired costume, wear bright colors, spandex, high socks, and super short shorts.

    Photo by Classic Film/Flickr
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    We Love the Nineties, 1990s
    This photo captures a few of our favorite trends from the ’90s, some of which are reemerging in fashion today. The grunge movement—both music and style—originated in and around Seattle at this time, resulting in young people exhibiting a more unkept appearance than had ever been fashionable before. Checkered flannels, graphic tees, and (sometimes) distressed jeans were staples of classic ’90s looks. Some of our wardrobes still look like this, but for those of us who left the ’90s in the 20th century, this Halloween is the perfect time to revisit these easy-to-do looks for a low-key getup.

    Photo by lix/Flickr
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