The evenings get colder, the leaves turn brown, and the smell of Pumpkin Spiced lattes is in the air – autumn is officially here, meaning Halloween is right around the corner. With pubs and clubs reopening, 2021 offers an exciting opportunity to pick a costume or three to celebrate spooky season.
However, with the huge amount of pop culture and media we are exposed to, alongside the nostalgic influences reignited during the lockdowns, it is not so easy to choose what to dress up as. Halloween has grown to be a massively celebrated time of year, invariably met with the impact of the changing nature of costumes.
It may seem that Halloween costumes inspired by popular culture are a modern trend – what friendship group has not attempted a Spice Girls tribute? However, it can be traced most notably from the 1950s onwards. Everyone knows and loves the classic costumes. Ghosts, witches, cats are all great ideas (especially on a budget) and are timeless Halloween hits. But from the mid-twentieth century, popular culture began to influence the costumes people were choosing to wear, and the 1950s and 1960s were filled with Disney-themed costumes and members of the Addams Family. As pop culture influences grew in America and the UK, the impact they had materialised in their Halloween costumes.
However, it is not called ‘Spooky Season’ for no reason. Trends continued to reflect the media in the 1970s when it became popular in America to wear presidential masks for Halloween costumes, Nixon being a frequent choice. Recently, in 2016, this trend reoccurred alongside the Presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Politics has become a notable trend for Halloween costumes, and whether supporting or mocking politicians, this is a trend we can expect to see in the future.
Trends changed drastically in the late 1990s and early 2000s when stores began to produce ‘sexy’ alternatives to Halloween costumes and profession-based uniforms, which remain popular to this day. This trend reflects the changing attitude towards fashion and empowerment in the early 2000s. Since the mid-twentieth century, Halloween has developed into an event not just for children but for adults too, with the variety of costumes expanding significantly over the years.
Whether it is television shows, blockbuster movies, or politics, the nature of Halloween costumes constantly changes to reflect the popular culture of its time. In that case, what do we predict for this year? With Squid Game and Bridgerton taking the world by storm, we can expect to see some creative costumes based on these high-grossing Netflix shows. Equally, with James Bond, Cruella de Vil, and Black Widow resurfacing in the film industry, these characters are likely to inspire viewers.
However, will our experiences during lockdown impact our decisions? Many hours in lockdown spent reading or watching films meant that nostalgia was incredibly prevalent, with older pop culture resurfacing. This year, we could see a rise in people dressing up as previous fictional characters as well as new ones. Book sales grew to £6.4 billion last year. Could we expect to see an abundance of Gatsbys and Tintins in 2021?
Regardless of whether a costume is old, new, political, nostalgic, or traditional, Halloween is the perfect time to dress up as something you love, feel passionate about, or simply feel good in