30 Halloween Costumes Best Left In History

Updated on Oct 31, 2021. Originally added on Oct 27, 2015 by Daniel Pinna
While witches, ghosts and vampires are commonplace Halloween costumes today, I bet you won't recognize many of the costumes our ancestors dressed in. Spooky, silly, homemade, and store bought - these photos show the creative Halloween costumes from previous decades. How many of these costumes do you recognize? How we celebrate Halloween today has changed over the past 100 years - most notably with the prevalence of manufactured costumes - but the activities have remained the same: Dressing up in costume, begging for candy while trick or treating, partying until you drop, and scaring each other!

History of Halloween: Originally celebrated as Samhain (the beginning of a New Year for the Celts), in the melting pot of the United States Halloween has grown to a mixture of celebrating Hallow's Eve, All Saints Day, All Souls Day, and the Day of the Dead, creating a holiday for children and adults to dress up and party. Children party with candy, adults with . . . well, you know!


30 Halloween Costumes Best Left In History

Our idea of advanced robotics in the 1950s - Robot X-100

Halloween Robots, 1950's

A lion, a witch, and a duck performing a seance?

A lion, a witch, and a duck . . .

Meet the creepy neighbors (c. 1930-1940)

Carnival Masks?

Hooligans dressing like hooligans (c. 1910)

Thanksgiving Maskers circa 1910

These are actually "maskers". At the end of November every year, "maskers" would dress up and roam the streets, begging for fruit and money. In the late '20's, Halloween supplanted this "hooligan" practice.

I really don’t know what these things are

Crazy old costumes!

But I do know that I will have nightmares.

The classics: Popeye and Uncle Sam

Neighborhood Halloween in the 1930's

Why are 1920's skeleton costumes way better than modern ones?

Football players in Costume - 1920

Run out of costume ideas?

Dale Forsyth, Minnesota

Decorate the pumpkin and plop your child next to it.

A deranged bunny? Okay . . .

Deranged Bunny?

I guess this is what witches looked like even before Wizard of Oz came out

Halloween Witch, 1930's

Aww . . . a cute bunch of little devils

Halloween lil devils

They've got their EYES on YOU

Giant Eyes on Halloween

In the early 1900s, fake mediums would advertise double exposure film as proof of spirits appearing in the photo

Smallwood Double Exposure

I think the girl herself is spooky enough!


Okay, this is B-movie actress Nan Grey

Nan Grey as a Witch - Halloween

But this is the cutest witch we've seen (they're not all ugly!) and after all of those spooky photos we thought we'd leave you with this!

It's not the costume that's scary . . .

Unknown Boy, Halloween

This unknown boy possibly dressed for Halloween may not be innately scary but as a parent, I'd definitely be scared for him to go trick or treating with those crutches!

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