The Victorian era gave birth to some terrifying faces, not to forget a few peculiar practices including post-mortem photography.
On the timeline of events, you’ll most likely be greeted with everything from the abolishment of slavery for those working in the British Caribbean, right through to the grisly murders of Jack the Ripper.
As for entertainment, different social classes enjoyed a variety. Whilst some would prefer to indulge in literature, others would attend the opera and musical theatre. A popular trend during this time was attending a Victorian Carnival, often referred to as ‘Freak Shows’, but we will touch on these later on.
In terms of social classes, there was a huge divide in Britain that separated poverty from extraordinary wealth. Whilst the rich would live comfortably and their children had the privilege of education, the poor would often reside in damp homes and had few, if any, luxuries. Another huge contrast between the two classes was work life. The poor would often work long, hard hours for very little pay, while a large percentage of the rich didn’t have to work at all.
So, now we know a little bit about this era, what does it have to do with Halloween costumes? Well, as mentioned, this period brought a number of scary faces to light, not to forget our mention of ‘Freak Shows’. If you’re planning a Halloween party or you’re attending one this year, why not take a look at Victorian fashion or our suggestions below for a killer costume!
Our first Halloween costume idea is, of course, Dracula. You may be wondering what Dracula has to do with the Victorian times but the original novel was published during this era by Bram Stoker. It is a gothic horror, making it perfectly suited to the way Victorian’s used to spend their Halloweens!
For a Dracula outfit, all you need is some face paint, a three piece suit with a high collar on the long blazer and bow tie. Using the face paint, you can make yourself look ghostly-white and more vampire-ish, not to forget create the blood lines starting at the corner of the mouth!
Jack the Ripper
Though he was never found, Jack the Ripper has a number of theories surrounding his murders and more importantly for now, his supposed appearance. Commonly depicted in a top hat and long cloak, the mystery surrounding this notorious figure makes creating a Halloween costume all the more fun. It means that you can experiment with different features that you think the Ripper might have possessed or worn. It’s also a unique Halloween costume that is sure to set you aside from the rest of the Jeepers Creeper’s and witches.
If you want to find out more about the Ripper before you create your costume, feel free to join us on one of our Jack the Ripper tours.
Victorian Carnivals, or Freak Shows, saw a fair share of unique and peculiar acts, each of which has an equally interesting backstory. These shows became widely popular during Victorian times. So, let’s take a look at a few of the most famous acts and the story behind them.
The Human Skeleton
The human skeleton, or Isaac Sprague, lived his life as a normal young boy. This was until he reached age 12 when his muscles began to deteriorate and the weight just fell right off him. When he was 24, he found that he couldn’t work so instead he decided to join the sideshow.
When he reached age 44, Sprague underwent a series of measurements to determine his actual size. The results showed that he was a shocking 43 pounds with a height of five feet and six inches.
The Three Legged Man
Frank Lentini, more commonly known as the three legged man, was born with a third leg. He was also said to have a tiny foot on the third leg’s knee and some say he had two sets of genitalia. Unlike Sprague, doctors identified the cause of Lentini’s condition, claiming that the leg was a result of an under-developed conjoined twin.
Lentini performed in many circuses and soon became a rising star in the sideshow world.
So, for Halloween, why not create a totally unique costume based on one of the stars of the sideshow community?
These are just a few ideas for unusual, Victorian Halloween costumes that are sure to make you stand out this October.
Richard Cobb – has written 201 posts on this site.
Richard Cobb is a industry expert on everything Jack The Ripper, he is also the founding partner of The Jack The Ripper Tour which has become extremely successful over the last 3 years.