The corsets and ball gowns of the Victorian era of the 19th century make for a fun Halloween costume for your next costume party. You can opt for a costume of traditional Victorian dress or opt for a steampunk version.
While you can likely find a lot of Victorian costume options at costume shops and on sites like Amazon or Etsy, you can also make a DIY costume with clothes you make on your own by following a tutorial, or you can purchase items for the historical costume from thrift stores.
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The Victorian fashion style of the era, which falls during the reign of Queen Victoria between 1837 and 1901, offers myriad options for both men and women. There is plenty of inspiration for you to dress up and go back in time for your next costume party.
Victorian-era costume ideas for women
The corset was popular during the era and gave Victorian women of this time period the appearance of a very small waist. Dresses typically had a tight bodice and tight, long sleeves. The neckline of the dresses was also snug against the neck.
Women wore long skirts or dresses. Hoop skirts were also popular during a part of this era, but many full skirts were also long and flowing. Skirts without hoops often had a bustle, a cushion or wire framework that sat on the back below the waist to ensure the skirts fell gracefully. Women would typically wear a petticoat, or underskirt, underneath the Victorian dress.
Victorian gowns of this era were often made of taffeta and satin, so you can look for these fabrics to use when dressmaking or hunting for garments in your local thrift store. Add finishing touches to your Victorian-era costume with a hat and parasol.
Victorian-era costumes for men
While the Victorian dress is iconic of the era, men can also dress up with DIY costumes from the 19th century. Men generally dressed formally in stove-pipe pants or trousers. A waistcoat or vest covered by a frock coat was a popular style for the period. The frock coat was typically fitted and draped down in the back.
Accessories were also popular for men, especially the cravat, a scarf or fabric worn as a tie. Hats were also popular for men, so look for a tophat or bowler hat to complete the Victorian costume.
Steampunk costume ideas
Steampunk is a genre of science fiction that draws heavily from the aesthetics and technology of the 19th century. Rather than advanced technology, the stories typically feature steam-powered technology. Some may consider steampunk to be an alternative history of the 19th century.
While the dress has many similarities to other Victorian-era costumes, you can add some accessories to embrace the steampunk style. Women can wear flowing dresses or hoop skirts with corsets or regal jacket bodices. Consider using leather clothes and embellish the garments with things like brass or steel beads. Men can wear pants, a ruffled shirt and a frock coat.
Brown is the dominant color for the steampunk aesthetic but don't be afraid to use other colors like red, green and black. Most importantly, don't forget the accessories. A leather belt, tophat, goggles and pocket watch will perfectly round out your steampunk costume for your next Halloween party or cosplay event.