Goodies in Films

Superman - Muscle chestview

Superman - Muscle chest

Catwoman Ladies Costumeview

Catwoman Ladies Costume

Mr Incredible Costumeview

Mr Incredible Costume

Star Trek Gold Shirtview

Star Trek Gold Shirt

Blues Brothers felt type Hatview

Blues Brothers felt type Hat

Roman Gladiator Warrior Kids Costumeview

Roman Gladiator Warrior Kids Costume

Princess Leia Costumeview

Princess Leia Costume


Goodies Character Costumes from Films

Because there are so many books which have been turned into films, many film goody characters may have counterparts in our literary goodies list, but with movie merchandise deals, in many cases there are official costumes available for film character versions. The downside is that, in a franchise situation, with multiple episodes, prequels and sequels, the costumed look of the character may change to keep the merchandise money coming – it’s a bit like football shirts!  The other problem is that only a select group of characters from any given film are made available – not good if you are trying to be original. We have tried to provide a mix of suggestions in our list.

Batman – The comic book hero who has had many movie incarnations. The 1943 version is lost in time, but the  Batman: The Movie (1966) built on the success of the cult TV series and since then there have been many new reincarnations and reboots, the most recent being the Dark Knight series. A future film (due 2016) features Batman and Superman (plus Wonder Woman and Aquaman). Batman’s sidekick Robin has also undergone a few image/costume changes.

Batgirl – Aside from her appearance in Batman & Robin (1997) (the one with George Clooney as Batman), Batgirl’s screen action has mainly been on the small screen.  Nonetheless, with female superheroes in short supply, she is a potential movie hero choice.

Superman – Another comic book character much in demand thanks to his several movie appearances over the years.

Supergirl has had her own movie, but although it was not a great success, Supergirl  can be a popular choice.

Catwoman – There is a debate as to whether Catwoman is good or bad, but she is a popular character. There is even a film featuring a Catwoman (Halle Berry) who has nothing to do with the Batman franchise.

The Avengers – Not Steed and Emma Peel (although there was an Avengers film featuring these two (Ralph Fiennes, and Uma Thurman involved) which was not a great success), but the gathering of Marvel superheroes such as Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow to see off threats to the Earth.

Thor – Originally the God of Thunder in Nordic folklore, and whilst he still retains these roots, many are now more familiar with him as another of Marvel Comic’s group of Avengers heroes. A female warrior from Asgard, Lady Sif, has assisted Thor in his missions. There is also word that in a future development, the position of Thor may be taken by a female anyway.

X- Men – Aside from the Avengers, Marvel’s X-Men have also generated a number of films and potential character choices, notably Wolverine and Storm.

Other comic book/video  heroes who have had movie adaptations include Green Lantern, Spiderman, Mutant Ninja Turtles and Super Mario.

Mr Incredible and Elasti-girl – In a time of comic-book heroes, Mr Incredible and Elasti-girl were originals, at the top of the crime-fighting game, but they then married and raised a family. Unfortunately the rise of a new threat to the world forced the whole family out of retirement and into combating this menace.

He-Man – Alter-ego of Adam, the Prince of Greyskull in the popular 1980s TV cartoon series (and later spin-off film). His female counterpart is She-ra.

Woody the Cowboy  & Buzz Lightyear –  The original Toy Story film created a new standard in animated films and the two follow-ups maintained the same quality of characterisation and humour.

Indiana Jones – Originally created to bring back the ‘Saturday Matinee cliff-hanger hero’, Indiana Jones, the action archaeologist, has now starred in four films. The fedora and whip are key costume elements. His female counterpart is Lara Croft, originally a video game character, but brought to life on the big screen by Angelina Jolie.

Rocky Balboa – Sylvester Stallone created this underdog boxer character who has retained his star quality through several sequel movies.

James Bond – Although a book character, Bond is arguably more familiar from his movie incarnations. As the franchise developed, the plots and characters of the films diversified from the books of the same name. Despite this, within the films, Bond has many incarnations, so aside from the inevitable suit/tuxedo, you can have Commander Bond (Spy Who Loved Me), Scottish Bond (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Para-HALO jump Bond (Tomorrow Never Dies).

Austin Powers – As a counterpoint to Bond, we have Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery. The first film (of three), though made in the 2000s was (initially) set in the 1960s spoofing not only the Bond movies but also cult 1960s film Blow Up (Austin’s ‘day job’ is an internationally famous photographer). His ‘accomplice’ for the first film is Vanessa Kensington, whose outfits range from 1960s Dolly Bird fashion, through Avengers leather catsuit to silver space-dress. He is joined by Foxy Cleopatra (Beyonce) in the second film, and the third features a spin-off Austin movies with Tom Cruise (as Powers) and Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Austinpussy’).

Luke Skywalker – Possibly the best known of the Jedi Knights of the original Star Wars series. There are many official outfits available for this character and others such as Princess Leia and Han Solo, and more may be expected with the new Disney Star Wars films.

Neo  – The Matrix was a ground-breaking film, introducing the concept of a computer generated reality. The Neo look, featuring a long coat and wraparound shades, is not complex, and for Trinity, his co-freedom fighter, a PVC catsuit and shades can create a great impression.

Maximus Decimus Meridus – Ridley Scott’s Gladiator created this hero of ancient Rome.

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid – Possibly the best known cowboy pair beyond the more specialist Brokeback mountain duo.

Spartacus – The slave who led a major revolt in Roman Times.

The Lord of the Rings films (plus The Hobbit series) throws up a whole range of Goodies, from Frodo and Bilbo Baggins to Legolas and Gimli to Arwen, Galadriel and Gandalf. Costumes for many of these are available (although the ones for the Hobbits may be on the small side).

John McClane (Die Hard films) – Not so much a question of dressing up as dressing down for this oft-battered action hero.

Rick Dekard (Blade Runner) – Forties Film Noir meets Sci-fi as this cop hunts replicant robots in a future Los Angeles.

Terminator – Of course the Terminator tends to change sides according to his mission – in the first film he’s trying to eliminate Sarah Connor, mother of the future rebel leader, the next he’s a T800 upgraded model defending the Connor family against other robo-baddies.

Clarice Starling – FBI agent involved in a battle of wits with everyone’s favourite cannibal baddie, Dr Hannibal Lector. The problem is portraying Clarice without her evil counterpart.

The Man With No Name (The Good, the Bad & the Ugly) – This role established Clint Eastwood’s star quality.

Ellen Ripley  (Alien Films) – Undoubtedly a ground-breaking goodie, but perhaps not easy to portray in a costume context. A spacesuit is possible, if a little cumbersome.

Spongebob Squarepants  Major undersea cartoon hero – the costume is usually in a tabard-style outfit.

Lawrence of Arabia – The David Lean film about TE Lawrence, the Englishman who lead a revolt in the Middle East is a classic and proved the breakout role for Peter o’Toole.

Kick Ass & Hit Girl – When a teenager decides to turn crime-fighting vigilante, he is aided and abetted by Hit Girl, a like-minded feisty female whose supportive father seems to model himself on the Adam West/Batman method.

Baby Doll - The film Sucker Punch sees Baby Doll, wrongly committed to an institution, and her companions Amber, Blondie,  Rocket, Sweet Pea attempt to escape from their imprisonment through a series of fantasy adventures.

Flash Gordon – He started as a Saturday matinee cinema hero, but most now connect him with the 1980 Dino de Laurentiis movie featuring Flash as an American Football star, who saves the Earth. His female partner is Dale Arden, but a subsequent TV series has generated some alternative costuming.

Zorro – At one point this masked swordsman of Old Spanish California was one of the most filmed characters in the movies.

Captain James T Kirk – Although Star Trek has its origins in television, there have been many Star Trek movies covering the two major versions of the franchise (plus new reboot films). Kirk may seem the obvious choice but Spock could work equally well.

The Tramp – Charlie Chaplin presents an iconic image of early silent cinema.

Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell  (Top Gun) – Tom Cruise has starred as a goody in many a film (see also Austin Powers), but this is one of the few you can portray through costume.

Rambo – Sylvester Stallone’s other major screen hero – a Vietnam veteran who’s fighting for right.

Robocop – The law-enforcement cyborg has generated several sequels and reboots.

Shrek & Princess/Queen Fiona – Admittedly originally book characters, but the ogre and his missus are probably better known from their film appearances.

Wyatt Earp & Doc Holliday – Heroes of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Wild West folklore.

Gandhi – Inspirational leader in the Indian subcontinent in the latter days of the British Raj.

Abraham Lincoln – From the foundations of American History, a true historical icon (even if played by a Brit).

The Blues Brothers – On a mission from God to save an orphanage, Jake and Elwood Blues wreak havoc and create some cool music.

The Ghostbusters – Along with the Three Musketeers (and possibly the Three Amigos), one of the few Goodie trios available. In an interesting turnaround, whilst female Ghostbuster outfits have been available for a few years, it is rumoured that a forthcoming Ghostbuster remake may feature a female cast.

Wiliam Wallace (Braveheart) – Okay, the film was not historically accurate and featured a few jarring errors, but a Scottish Warrior with a sword and war paint could prove popular.

Rooster Cogburn (True Grit) – Such a hero, they did a remake which stood reasonable comparison to the original.

Rick Blaine – From film classic Casablanca, a cool look and a white tuxedo can create the right impression.

Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride) – Off the beaten hero track, there is this loveable thief-cum-kidnapper from a film which has become something of a cult favourite. Inconceivable!

Aladdin – Okay, technically a book character, but as with so many books adapted by Disney, Aladdin takes on a life of his own beyond the basic story (helped, of course by the big blue genie – an interesting costume challenge).

Barbarella – Well before Princess Leia and her metallic bikini, a different Space heroine enthralled the Universe with her futuristic clothing (or, sometimes, lack of it).

Princess Leia (Star Wars) – Leia was distinctive in being feisty, but also virtually the only female in the early Star Wars films. She upped her profile in the second film with some skimpy slave-wear, courtesy of Jabba the Hutt.

Queen/Padme Amidala (Star Wars prequels) – The follow-up prequel films did not do much better, even if she did spend the first film of the series seeming to be in two places at once!

The Bride/Beatrix Kitto (Kill Bill) – Out for revenge following an incident at her wedding, The Bride takes the action heroine genre to a whole new level.

Posted in Goodies in Films | Tagged goodies & baddies, goodies costume ideas, goodies fancy dress ideas, Goodies film costume ideas | Leave a reply

Baddies from Books

Cruella Style Costumeview

Cruella Style Costume

Hannibal Lector Maskview

Hannibal Lector Mask


Baddies Book Character Costume Ideas

You want some book character ideas and, as always, Props & Frocks aims to deliver with, on this occasion,  a range of baddie/villain suggestions. Please note that we are suggesting a list of character ideas to be conveyed by use of distinctive outfits and accessories – we cannot promise that either we (or indeed any other hire/sale outlet) necessarily has all these costumes ‘off-the-peg’.

Right – if you are short of time and do not want to read the whole article, here’s a sort of speed-read of ten quick ideas which need little explanation and which you (but unfortunately also anybody else) should be able to find at ours and any other outlet.

Captain HookPeter Pan – J M Barrie

Cruella de Vil101 Dalmatians – Dodie Smith

DraculaDracula – Bram Stoker

Frankenstein’s MonsterFrankenstein – Mary Shelley

Fu ManchuFu Manchu series of Books by Sax Rohmer

Hannibal LectorRed Dragon/Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris

MedusaFrom Greek Myths & Legends

Queen of HeartsAlice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

Sheriff of NottinghamRobin Hood – From English folklore

Wicked Witch of the WestWizard of Oz

Meanwhile, initially, let’s work with a few specific authors:-

Charles Dickens, the English Victorian author offers a wide range of characters in his books and with the help of a suitable Victorian outfit you could adopt the identity of many of them. Amongst those that stand out are;

Fagin - The ‘pickpocket gangmaster’ of Oliver Twist; Long black coat (with internal pockets), grey wig and black skull cap.

Scrooge - The meanie who comes good in A Christmas Carol; White Victorian nightshirt, night cap, half-moon glasses, grey wig

Miss Havisham – The embittered spinster of Great Expectations; All pale and cobweby! The outfit marketed as Ghostly Girl (or similar) can be useful here.

Wackford Squeers – The cruel schoolmaster of Dotherboys Hall in David Copperfield;  Grab a cane and channel the style of the schoolmaster from Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’

William Shakespeare may not have written many novels, but he did manage a few plays  – books of a different type. Often the character is revealed in the words rather than the look, but here are a few suggestions.

Lady Macbeth – Co-conspirator with her husband  in the murder of King Duncan – hence the blood-stained hands.

Richard III - The alleged hunchback and killer (by proxy) of little princes. Medieval king costume (with a hunch).

Shylock – An unfortunate Jewish stereotype from The Merchant of Venice but the pound of flesh thing is not the most endearing idea. You could use the same outfit as Fagin (above) but carry a large fake knife and one of those luggage weight-scales!

Amongst modern authors, horror writer Stephen King has created many memorable villainous characters, and in this case, because many have been made into movies, there are some ready-made outfits available.

Pennywise the Clown - The evil horror entity from the book ‘IT’. Aside from the male version, we have seen a female variation on the market.

Carrie – The telekinetic teenager from the book of the same name. This book has actually been made as a movie twice but the result’s the same – it gets messy at the Prom.

Jack Torrance – Distracted caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’. Slight sideways thinking here as you find an axe, an Overlook Hotel T-shirt from movie-tee specialist suppliers and do your best Jack Nicholson ‘Here’s Johnny’ bit (That line was never in the book, Nicholson improvised it for the film!)

Annie Wilkes - The dedicated literary superfan from ‘Misery’. Again, you characterisation may be influenced by the Kathy Bates version seen in the film, but a Misery book and mallet may be useful props!

As we are talking a horror author here, there are a few King novels for which you could use generic horror outfits – Zombies (Pet Semetary), the Devil (Salem’s Lot & Needful Things) and ‘nosferatu-style’ vampires ‘The Night Flyer’.

There’s also everyone’s favourite cannibal, Hannibal Lector, from the books Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, etc. by Thomas Harris.

Whilst we are in horror mode, we might mention that the Devil/Satan turns up in many guises in other literature, notably Milton’s Paradise Lost (where Satan is the rebellious fallen angel) and Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, where, as Mephistopheles, he persuades the Doctor to sell his soul. If the full red Horned One outfit is a little OTT, try a more subtle approach with a smart suit (male or female), a red pointed tail hanging from the rear and some small head-horns!

Road Dahl is a popular author often portrayed at Book Days/Weeks. He tends to do ‘grotesque’ rather than horror, and amongst the villains in his works are Agatha Trunchbull (Matilda) and the Grand Witch (The Witches).

Lemony Snicket also does larger-than-life and offers us Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events.

From the devious, there are also villainous masters (and mistresses) of the Dark Arts : Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter), White Witch (Narnia) Saramun & Witch King of Angmar (Lord of the Rings).


Goodies from Books

Top Hat - Cat Stripeview

Top Hat - Cat Stripe

Sherlock Holmes Deerstalker Hatview

Sherlock Holmes Deerstalker Hat

Spiderman Amazing Boy's Costumeview

Spiderman Amazing Boy's Costume


Goodies from Books

There are undoubtedly a large number of literary heroes – many books are named after them! When it comes to costumes for adults for a Book Day/Week style event, the first consideration is your market/audience. If you are a teacher, learning assistant or similar, you are obviously looking to portray someone your students will be familiar with (which may have a lot to do with their age). It may also be that you and your assistant are looking to portray a literary or linked pair. Similarly, the age of the character is another factor. Even small children have a good idea what age (or size) their favourite characters should be, so an adult playing a youthful – say - Dick Whittington might not work.

On a wider scale, it may be true to say that in some respects ‘film goodies’ offer more choice than literary characters and even then, some book character outfits are available only because there has been a film adaptation. Of course such costumes are one interpretation of characters ‘created’ in the reader’s imagination, but films shape people’s perceptions of appearance. In other cases, there may be a particular aspect of clothing or prop which ‘makes’ the character. As with a costume party, it helps if your character is easily recognisable. Anyway, as with our companion Literary Baddies piece, we start off with a quick list of characters usually easily found ‘off-the-peg’.

The Cat in the Hat – Distinctive Dr Seuss character, key costume elements being the tall red/white stripe top hat and big red bowtie. A potential ‘partner’ is Sally, a girl in a white blouse and green apron/pinafore dress. An alternative pairing is/are Thing One & Two.

The Mad Hatter (Lewis Carroll) – Popular character, now available in two styles – the ‘classic’ style and the slightly more madcap Johnny Depp interpretation. Obviously once again the hat (with price tag in hatband)and bowtie are key items. Partner characters can be the March Hare, Dormouse or, of course, Alice.

Alice in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll) – Another popular choice of character. The traditional style is light blue dress with a white pinafore apron but variations are available thanks to the more recent Tim Burton film. As a partner, aside from the Hatter mentioned above, the White Rabbit or Queen of Hearts suggest themselves.

The Queen of Hearts can, of course, stand as a literary character in her own right – either Alice style, or more nursery-rhyme mainstream with The Knave (or King) of Hearts as a partner.

Where’s Wally/Wanda (or Waldo) – A character who probably needs no introduction.

Dorothy Gale & companions (L Frank Baum) Another potentially popular group of characters. Whilst Dorothy might be the ‘leader’, one of the others (Lion/Tinman/Scarecrow) may prove more visual, and female versions are available (although some might consider them a little skimpy for some environments).

Dumbledore/Merlin (JK Rowling/Sir Thomas Malory) – The wizard headmaster Dumbledore is obviously familiar to those who have grown up with the Harry Potter books and films. Thanks to the recent TV series, the younger generation are probably most familiar with Merlin the wizard as a young boy but, of course, technically Dumbledore and Merlin share similar traits and have a potential wow factor.

Sherlock Holmes (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) – Another character that has undergone a recent modern reimagining, but the classic Inverness cape, deerstalker and meerschaum pipe (plus magnifying-glass) is the stereotypical (if rather inaccurate) look.

Cleopatra & Anthony (Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw) – Arguably, Cleopatra works as a standalone character whilst Anthony could be just another Roman unless put in context. Unfortunately Cleo and Anthony are often a popular costume choice pairing, but if your heart is set on this couple, you will just have to step up your game and, with our help, knock the competition asp over apex (a pyramid reference, of course).

Mary Poppins & Bert the Sweep (PL Travers) - Another couple where the female character works on her own and puts her partner in context.

Roald Dahl characters are always popular, and amongst the leading Goodies are Willie Wonka, the famous chocolate factory owner,  and Fantastic Mr Fox. The latter is perhaps classified as a children’s book character, but this vulpine hero was played by/voiced by George Clooney in the animated film.

Are the choices so far a little too kiddie orientated for you? Try these from the Dark Side. (We will assume that Dracula does not Count as a Goodie).

Dr Jeykll & Mr Hyde (The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson) –  Interesting dual personality character covering both Goodie and Baddie camps. You might find one of those half-n-half costumes which embodies the two, but the character is open to improvisation.

Frankenstein’s Monster (Frankenstein – Mary Shelley) – Literary/Halloween crossover character familiar to most people. The Bride of Frankenstein is unfortunately more a creation of the movie-makers seeking a sequel to the original film.

Quasimodo (Hunchback of Notre-Dame – Victor Hugo) – Another Halloween-orientated character, also a victim of circumstance.

Death (Discworld books – Terry Pratchett) – A more off-beat book character, Death is a full-on Grim Reaper of few words but tending to MAKING AN IMPRESSION WHEN HE DOES SO.

Goodie Characters born of Myth and Legend…

Greek and Roman Myth and Legend are filled with such male hero characters as Hercules,  Achilles and Jason. Unfortunately, aside from goddesses doing good deeds and saving mortals, there are few Greek myth heroines. The nearest we have is Medea, who assisted Jason in obtaining the Golden Fleece, betraying her own family and people in the process, but then being betrayed herself and exacting a terrible revenge.

Beowulf (Old English poem) – The fearless warrior Beowulf battles the demon Grendel and incurs wrath from other dark forces.

Conan the Barbarian (Robert E Howard) – A Sword and Sorcery of the Dark Ages character created in the 1930s but now associated with movies starring the then unknown Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs) – Possibly the most famous character creation of this author, but not one for a cold day!

Game of Thrones (George R R Martin) – This is a modern multi-volume classic of political machinations in a medieval-style land, a summary which may not do the work justice. Fans will have their favourite characters, and although off-the-peg outfits are not always easy to come by, the use of the heraldic devices and sigils of the families in the series may create a satisfactory outfit impression.

Lord of the Rings (3 books) and The Hobbit (J RR Tolkien) – Both works offer a wide range of potential characters (although unfortunately not too many female) notably Gandalf, Frodo (and Bilbo) Baggins, Gimli the dwarf warrior and Legolas the elfish archer.

King Arthur, Guinevere & Lancelot (Sir Thomas Malory) – Having mentioned Merlin earlier, other leading characters from the Age of Chivalry could also be chosen.

Robin Hood (Traditional) – Robin and his Merrie Men (plus Maid Marion) are heroes of English folklore.

A few modern Book Goodies..

James Bond (Ian Fleming) – Often requested in connection with movies or a standalone Bond theme, the basic tuxedo or Naval Commander might be favoured, but you could also draw on some of the movie incarnations – Sir Hilary (OHMSS), Frogman (Thunderball). The later films, though offering strong female roles, wandered from the actual Bond book characters, so Pussy Galore (Goldfinger) might be the best bet for a Bond female.

Holly Golightly (Breakfast at Tiffanys – Truman Capote) Call girl tart-with-a-heart made famous (or at least more familiar) by Audrey Hepburn’s film interpretation.

Lisbeth Salander (Millenium trilogy – Stieg Larsson) Punky computer hacker who has been portrayed in two different film adaptations. The dragon tattoo is a starting point to the look, and slogan t-shirts could also be useful.

Rincewind (T. Pratchett) – The flipside to Merlin, Rincewind is the inept wizard from the early Discworld books (he has a hat inscribed ‘Wizard’ for the benefit of those unsure).

Arthur Dent (Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy books – Douglas Adams) – Hapless earthling rescued from Earth just before it was blown up to create a by-pass. Classic outfit involves a dressing gown and all-important towel.

Does your interpretation of literary characters run to comic books and graphic novels? Aside from the obvious cop-out of Batman, Superman, etc, try these..

 V – (V for Vendetta graphic novel  Alan Moore) – Rebellious anti-hero who models his masked look upon the British 17th century participant in the Gunpowder Plot,  Guy Fawkes. The look has been widely adopted by modern-day activists.

The Watchmen (Watchmen – Alan Moore) Goodies? Well superheroes have fallen from grace in this ‘alternative history’ story, and not all heroes are as they seem, but thanks to the film of the novel, a range of character costumes are available.

Tintin (Herge) – The famous boy detective with a quiff who has recently moved from comic book to big screen.

Snoopy  & Peanuts characters (Charles Schulz) – This stretches the book character concept to comic strips, but these are some of the most successful comic strip characters ever. The Peanuts gang celebrate their  65th anniversary in 2015, and so are probably worth a mention.

Posted in Goodies from Books | Tagged goodies costume ideas, goodies costume ideas from myths & legends, goodies from books costume ideas, heroes & heroines fancy dress, , superhero fancy dress ideas | Leave a reply

Historical Goodies

Toga / Jesus Adult Costumeview

Toga / Jesus Adult Costume


Historical Goodies?  Tricky, because in some cases (notably military history) one person’s goody hero is another’s baddy enemy. Take Napoleon Bonaparte. Undoubtedly a baddy on the field of Waterloo, where his army was beaten by British forces under the Duke of Wellington but in other fields, such as metrication and administration, he did much to shape aspects of the modern world. In other areas of historical heroes, the representation of a particular personage might reply on props relating to his/her major achievement as much as the look and costume. Nonetheless, let’s risk a few suggestions for historical Goodies…

Jesus – Undoubtedly has the right credentials, but perhaps controversial for some. Seems to us if street sellers can offer Instant Jesus kits in St Peter’s Square, Rome, he is a potential contender.

Buddha – Bringing some religious balance, the main costume representation of this most influential entity is a gold statue.

Joan of Arc – Feisty French freedom fighter against the English.

Moses – One of the few biblical choices, but you should be okay if you take the tablets.

Winston Churchill – Renowned wartime leader and British Prime Minister.

King Henry V – English king who took the fight to the French at Agincourt and, thanks to Shakespeare, is better known than he might otherwise be.

Sir Francis Drake – Major sailor, explorer and privateer of Elizabethan/Tudor times.

Sir Walter Raleigh – The ‘other’ famous Elizabethan explorer, legendary for laying his cloak down for the Queen and introducing tobacco and the potato to western civilisation (or vice versa).

Queen Elizabeth I – Aside from her current counterpart and Victoria (who presided over the expanded British territories), possibly the best known of English Queens.

Pochahontas (& Captain John Smith) – The Native American Chief’s daughter and the English explorer whose life she saved and fell in love with.

Mother Teresa – A modern sainted soul whose charity works amongst the poor of India were tireless.

Cleopatra – There were actually several Cleopatras in Egyptian history, but this is the famous one who attempted to save her kingdom through romance with two of the military leaders of Rome.

George Washington – Founding Father of the United States of America.

Abraham Lincoln – Probably the second most famous American historical figure from the British point of view, noted for his Gettysburg address on the matter of slavery at the end of the Civil War. Although he was tall already (around 6’4’’), he was also noted for his stovepipe top hat in which, it is said, he kept important official documents.

Mahatma Gandhi – Pacifist who led the Indian sub-continent to Independence from British rule.

William I – William the Conqueror may not be seen as a hero by some, but like his later compatriot Napoleon, his skill with administration  and quelling of meaningless Saxon violence was admirable.

Robert the Bruce – Scottish leader of early times who, legend has it, was inspired to continue his fight against the English invaders after watching a spider taking several attempts to build a web.

Napoleon Bonaparte – The little Frenchman with big ideas for a European Empire, built out of the foundations established by the French Revolution.

Horatio Nelson – Opposing Napoleonic forces at sea was Rear Admiral Nelson whose heroic leadership lead to the Victory at Trafalgar and his unfortunate death.

Duke of Wellington – Military strategist whose skill with land forces defeated Napoleon’s attempts to establish a European Empire, capitalising upon the Frenchman’s failed campaign against the Russians.

William Shakespeare – The greatest and best-known of English authors.

Queen Boadicea – As leader of the Iceni tribe in Eastern England she took on, and almost defeated the Roman Invaders.

Captain Scott – Arctic explorer whose attempts to reach the South Pole ended in disaster.

Charles Darwin – British scientist whose work on the science of evolution proved controversial but influential.

Emily Pankhurst – Leader of the Suffragette movement to gain voting rights for women.

Isaac Newton – Scientist best known for his ‘discovery’ of the principles of gravity and motion of objects.

Jane Austen – Possibly the best known British female author.

Florence Nightingale – Miss Nightingale’s work in the field of battle during the Crimean War set groundbreaking standards for nursing care. For those choosing this character, she had a small pet owl – Athena.

And finally, if you are still having trouble with suggestions for Historical Goodies why not check out our Historical Character section.

Posted in Historical Goodies | Tagged Historical Character Costume Ideas, Historical Goodies costume ideas, historical goodies fancy dress | Leave a reply

Western Costumes


Cowboy Bandanaview

Cowboy Bandana

Bootlace Tieview

Bootlace Tie

Authentic Indian Bow & Arrowview

Authentic Indian Bow & Arrow


Western Costumes


Here in Essex, the Western theme is a popular one and we stock a great range of western costumes for all the family.  Western/Wild West/Cowboys & Indians (or whatever you like to call it) and its offshoots such as Country & Western and Line Dancing all comprise one great theme which is often relatively easy to do.

There are many great Western costumes on the market available to purchase, including this men’s cowboy costume and this ladies Indian Squaw Costume and we also have some excellent costumes for hire.  However, this is one theme (Pirates is another) where there are so many western accessories available to purchase, that you may be able to put together a costume at home relatively cheaply.

How do you do this? Well, you may already have items in your wardrobe that will work and all you need do is add a western accessory or two. For example, a cowboy or cowgirl could just use a pair of jeans and a check shirt. Then cowboy accessories such as a Stetson hat, bandana (or neckerchief), guns, spurs etc., can be added to create your own unique look.

But, what if you do not happen to possess a check shirt? Or, perhaps rather than just a standard cowboy/girl you want to be a bit more adventurous with your western look? What else can we suggest?

Well, Western Costume Ideas mainly fall into the following groups:

  • American Pioneers – Frontiersmen & Women, Little House on the Prairie type costumes
  • Bandits & Outlaws
  • Cavalrymen
  • Cowboys or Cowgirls
  • Indians or rather the more politically correct Native Americans
  • Law Enforcers – Marshalls & Sheriffs
  • Saloon Bar Personnel – including Saloon Girls and Bordello Madames
  • Wild West Show Personnel
  • Wild West Other Character Costume Ideas

THE WILD, WILD WEST – The Steampunk Crossover

Those with an eye to current costuming trends will be aware of Steampunk, a costuming style involving a mixture of the fashions of the 1900s with elements of science fiction and clockwork engineering as exemplified in the novels of Jules Verne. Looking at some of the multitude of Steampunk inspired designs coming to the market, there is a crossover into elements of Western wear, notably the long frock-coat styles and female corsets. Although a little ahead of its time (the term had not been created then), the film ‘The Wild Wild West’ (1999) featuring Will Smith and Kenneth Branagh, offers an example of Western Steampunk, featuring a giant mechanical spider-cum-battlewagon and futuristic ‘Victorian’ weaponry.

For those wanting to push the envelope in Western wear, these styles may be well worth seeking out.

Wild West Character Costume Ideas

Scarlett O'Hara - Girl's Victorian Costumeview

Scarlett O'Hara - Girl's Victorian Costume


Wild West Character Costume Ideas

Annie Oakley – Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter discovered by ‘Buffalo Bill’ when his Wild West Show stopped at New Orleans on its 1885 tour. Her story was dramatised in ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, the stage-show which brought Ethel Merman to fame. Contemporary pictures show her with a wide-brim hat, fringed buckskin-style outfit, long skirt and hunting rifle.

Calamity Jane – Martha Jane Canary (or Cannary) who lived from 1852 – 1903 was a frontierswoman and professional scout.  Nicknamed ‘Calamity Jane’, she was a hard-drinking woman, who wore men’s clothing, used bawdy language, and was handy with a gun. She dressed exactly as a cowboy would and contemporary portraits show her in a buckskin two-piece outfit, with traditional hat. Her portrayal by Doris Day in the 1953 film musical featured a similar outfit, with fringing and cavalry-style kepi headgear.

Davy Crockett One of the early pioneers (and at one stage possibly the best known) would have been Davy Crockett (‘King of the Wild Frontier’). He was the subject of a popular Disney TV series of the 1950s/60s and was famed for his ‘coonskin’ hat. He lived from 1786 to 1836 and died fighting on behalf of Texas, at the battle of the Alamo.

Doctor - ‘Doc’ Holliday, one of the participants in the gunfight at the OK Corral possibly springs to mind here. Doctors on the Frontier had very little medicine and often had to improvise cures. Some took up secondary careers – notably as undertakers!

Gambler – Gambling was a popular pastime in the West. Professionals who had honed their skills on the river-boats of the Mississippi and elsewhere followed the prospectors on the Gold Rush to the West to help in the ‘redistribution of income’. There are several outfits on the market but the basic outfit might consist of fancy waistcoat, frilled shirt, frock-coat or jacket over pin-stripe (or similar) trousers.

Preacher  – The preacher seen in most westerns has a standardised look –  a plain black suit (or long black coat) with a round, flat-brim hat, plus, of course, a ‘dog-collar’. A pair of wire-rimmed specs (or pince-nez) may also help the impression.

Prospector  – In the California Gold Rush of 1849 a range of nationalities were involved in the ‘stampede’. The typical prospector had a somewhat dishevelled image – battered hat (often used as a makeshift gold pan or drinking vessel), shirt, trousers (somewhat ragged), worn boots, plus prospecting equipment such as rock hammers, spades, etc.

Southern Belles The most recognizable Southern Belle is probably the fictional figure of Scarlett O’Hara from Margaret Mitchell’s book ‘Gone with the Wind’, which was turned into a film in 1939. Wear a Victorian style day or walking dress. This can be enhanced with the use of petticoats or crinoline (frame) underneath.

Victorian style lady costumes Women in the Wild West still wanted to look glamorous and the fashion of the time would have been for dresses in the Victorian fashion.

Wild West Showman – Probably one of the most influential showmen of the Old West was Buffalo Bill (real name William Frederick Cody). His cowboy themed travelling Wild West show which toured Britain, Europe and America featured the legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley.  His costume would have been based on a buckskin jacket and trousers.

Halloween Dress-up

Batty Ballerina Deluxe Girl's Halloween Costumeview

Batty Ballerina Deluxe Girl's Halloween Costume

Carver the Clownview

Carver the Clown

Demonica The Zombie Baby Halloween Decorationview

Demonica The Zombie Baby Halloween Decoration


Halloween Dress-up
When it comes to Halloween dress-up, in Britain we still try to remain true to the original spirit of the pagan new year festival celebrated at the end of October:  One last fling for the ghoulies and ghosties before the saints come marching in at the start of November.(The Latino Day of the Dead festivals reflect a similar ethos). That said, sticking to standard spooky/scary can be a little restrictive, and notwithstanding an upsurge in enthusiasm for zombies in recent years, working out variations on vampires, witches and skeletons can get a little repetitive.  So let’s try to do something different from the normal stuff and come up with some other suggestions:

We can start with a familiar Halloween decoration, the pumpkin. The seasonal classic film The Nightmare Before Christmas features leading character Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King. Arguably, he is more skeleton than pumpkin (and there are off-the-peg masks and costumes for the character), but as we take our first steps off the beaten track, why not substitute a pumpkin mask for his rounded skeleton face? Because masks restrict visibility and speech? No problem – just create a pumpkin face make-up. It’s something that is not often done (despite all the pumpkin carving designing that goes on), but there are many tutorials available online.

From there we can jump to the scarecrow (the pumpkins’ day/night job if they do not make it as Halloween decorations or soup/pie) and here you are looking to create something which scares more than crows.  Probably the best known ready-made scarecrow is the one from Oz, but whilst you could use the costume as a starting point, you might want to make the head and headgear more menacing. (If you do want a mask, but something different from a pumpkin, try making a simple mask from hessian or sacking).

Crows might have a part to play at Halloween (they certainly have a role in Celtic folklore, and are a sinister element in Game of Thrones) but unfortunately there aren’t many crow costumes on the market, so let’s work on other winged things:-

Bats – Of course, given that Bats are the given alter egos of Dracula and other vampire entities, which we are currently avoiding, these would probably not be your first choice for a novelty Halloween idea (which is why we mentioned them first, of course).

Fairies – Not all fairies are necessarily good. Cheerleader for the Wicked Fairy tribe is undoubtedly Maleficent (an ‘upgrade’ on  Carabosse in the original Sleeping Beauty story). The original Disney version did not have wings (except when she turned into a dragon), but the more recent film has explained how she had her wings clipped. Meanwhile there is a wide range of other dark fairies on the market, using the trademark colours of red, black and purple and with wings ranging from curved gothic to designer- distressed. Match the outfit with a suitable wild wig and ‘evil’ make-up (slanting eyebrows are a good start) and you’re well wicked.

Fallen Angels – In another time and place, the main fallen angel was Satan, suggesting the Devil red be-horned route, which we have chosen to avoid. No matter – there are plenty of other interpretations of the fallen angel concept on the market, ranging from the Good Girl Gone Wrong  to the divine being who has embraced the Darkside. It’s true that most fallen angel outfits aim at the female client, but the inventive male can probably come up with a concept if necessary.

Given the sheer number of different varieties of insect, and the fact that quite a few of them are associated with aspects of horror and death, it is surprising we do not see more of them at Halloween events. Perhaps it’s something to do with not letting them near the food.

-          Cockroach. There is a very nice little Roach outfit available on the market, and you will certainly stand out (as others avoid you).

-          Death’s Head Moth. There are a wide variety of colours and designs of butterfly wings available for adaptation to make up this costume. We recommend the ones not based on a wire frame. All you have to do is find a black outfit and create a skull-face make-up.

-          Fly. There are actually a few ready-made fly outfits (with matching masks) on the market, but, as with all outfits, you probably do not want a full overhead mask, for reasons of practicality. If even the eyemask is a problem (some have you seeing multiple images in their quest for authenticity) then at least find/make some antennae and go for the Man-Fly mash-up from the Fly movies.(Help me! Help me!)   British clients might want to work with a ‘bobby’ policeman’s helmet (with or without blue flashing light) for a Bluebottle.

-         Spiders. The Perceptive Ones will note that a spider is not a Winged Thing, but it is an insect, and it involves itself with winged things (usually to eat – the Black Widow is an established Halloween favourite). With a few spider outfits of varying complexity on the market, it might make a suitable companion to a Fly outfit. ‘Come into my parlour…’

And whilst we are talking of non-flying insects, we might also drop another concept into the mash-up mix – use a 1960s grey Nehru suit or Sgt. Pepper outfit (should add some interesting Halloween colour) with a Grim Reaper outfit and do a Death Watch Beatle.

From the natural world (?) to the unnatural, and

There are those who feel that some toys are a bit creepy, full stop. The stare-y glass eyes, the permanent fixed expression, etc. can freak people out, and it is true that many a horror film has been based on terror toys – possibly the best known being Chucky from ‘Child’s Play’.

Trolls – Depending upon your ‘era’, some will remember these rather ugly rubber (usually) toys which featured shock hair in various colours. A new generation of these toys are apparently still made. More recently, thanks to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and various other films, Trolls have been seen as large, ugly bad-tempered creatures (which rather takes them out of the toy cupboard). There is also a sub-species that infests the Internet with spiteful comments. For the purpose of a Halloween Idea, you could try and create any of these troll-types or, if there is a group of you, why not create a Halloween Cat/Pop Group mash-up with the Pussycat Trolls?

Dolls – Dolls come in all shapes and sizes and, with the exception of the previously mentioned Chucky (who was a ventriloquist doll anyway), usually tend to be female. (Those with a potential male market are usually called ‘action toys’).  One of the most recently  seen is Annabelle from ‘The Conjuring’ (a sequel and spin-off are in the offing),  but there are many others. Annabelle is an example of a porcelain ‘pretty doll’ but others of the genre are more easily achieved and are available on the market.

Voodoo Doll – A crudely fashioned doll, incorporating some essence of an intended victim (eg. hair, fingernails) by which to cause harm to that victim. In theory an outfit anyone could throw together from old clothing. Make-up involves a crude sewn mouth and eyes.  Just add some giant knitting needles as the pins.

Rag Doll - Raggedy Ann (and male counterpart Andy) are more a part of American culture than British, but the principle is much the same.

Clown – Male or female, there are those who find clowns scary at any time of the year, not just Halloween. The advantage here is that you can create your own look to look as subtle or scary as you wish.

Teddies – Actually the only terror teddies we have actually come across are the ones that look deceptively cute and then reveal a dark side – usually sharp teeth, That said, the recent enthusiasm for zombies has not left this area of the toybox untouched and it might be possible to create a more distressed and gory creature – the UnTed.

Needless to say, there are plenty of other horror variations on a standard theme available on the market – the Fractured Fairy-tale characters (Ghouldilocks, Creeping Beauty, Sinderella for instance); the Sinister Circus characters to accompany the clowns above, and the permutations on zombies, which have been done to death but, of course, carry on regardless.

With the increasing trend towards doing it yourself, if you are looking to do something different for this Halloween, chat with us and see how we can help with your project.

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