Among other things, Halloween is the time of year where people can really express their creativity. Whether it’s carving pumpkins, baking desserts, or putting together eye-catching ensembles, there’s a chance for everyone to show their artistic sides.
That said, sometimes pulling off the perfect costume can feel like an impossible feat. What should you be? How much can you afford? Ultimately, there are a thousand costume-centric questions that Halloween might force you to confront.
This isn’t just a modern concern. Back in the day, folks had their fair share of awesome, bizarre, strange, and downright creepy costumes! You can check out some of the spookiest vintage costumes below…
1. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t love a few slices of crispy bacon. Unless, of course, the bacon hock has a man inside it. Even still, that didn’t stop this man from winning 1894’s Covent Garden Fancy Dress Ball.
2. No, this isn’t an 20th century re-branding effort of the “Michelin Man” gone horribly awry. The folks sporting these costumes—whatever the heck they might be—were likely impervious to damage sustained from rolling down a hill. Just don’t ask them to stand up if they end up on their backs.
3. Which is stranger: the odd we-know-all-your-secrets gaze of the garden gnome or the listless, captive stare of the mushroom on the right? Either way, remember that this group was so enamored with their costume choice that they went to a special, thematically relevant location for a photo shoot. Can it get any weirder than this? (Hint: you bet.)
4. Want to keep it simple this Halloween? No problem. Here is the mid-20th century version of buying a mask at the discount dollar store and then calling your costume complete. Strap a phone to your head and you’re good to go. Warning: It might be a little tough to see if you attach the phone directly to your face, like the guy on the left.
5. What is she supposed to be? A cabbage patch? A woman covered in leaves? Rabbit food? Where are her arms? This woman’s costume inspires so many questions that you can’t help but feel like it’d be the talk of any Halloween party.
6. These costumes are a bit unsettling but surprisingly well-done. Thanks to some head-hiding costume magic, this pair successfully dressed up like a little kid’s drawings of people, with arms and legs sprouting right out of a massive face.
7. As far as vintage costumes go, you’ve gotta hand it to the makers of these large eyes set atop a pair of sleek black suits with white ties. These certainly make for a cool Halloween look, don’t they? Just don’t make any plans to eat or drink…
8. This is another pair of costumes that inspire so many questions. Are these small children with large boxes on their heads? Or adults who’ve covered their faces and stuck masks on the stomachs? Why are their arms so floppy? Ah well, kudos to them for being creepy.
9. There’s something about the lack of intensity in this photograph that just screams uncanny. The plain gray walls, the woman’s blank stare, and the way she casually clasps her hands really give this costume an otherwise creepy feel.
10. Nothing says creepy like a little girl in an enormous coat. Throw a helmet that’s either made entirely of duct tape or designed to look like the surface of Mars into the mix, and you’ve created something everyone secretly fears to see slowly teetering towards them on a sidewalk at night.
11. Have you been searching for the perfect all-family costume that will really get the neighborhood talking? Take inspiration from this cast who’s really rocking some sort of bandit-nun look. For some reason, a baby in a bonnet wearing a mask seems far more horrific than it should.
12. Nothing says Halloween like a truly regal flightless bird. Somehow, wearing this costume boldly and proudly with a puffed-out chest makes this get-up less creepy and more impressive.
13. Fun fact: Nowhere in the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme does it describe Humpty as an egg. He’s just a guy who falls off of a wall and splatters so violently on the ground that he actually breaks apart. But honestly? A splattered guy costume would still be less creepy than this armless version of Humpty that looks like the victim of stage magic gone wrong.
14. Perhaps the creepiest part of this costume is the very tiny sliver of the man’s face that peeks through the fabric of the mask. There’s something inexplicably sinister about seeing so little of a person’s face. But the scariest part of this photo? That wallpaper. Yeesh.
15. First of all, was the tiny stool necessary to this photograph? It adds very little to what is a pretty well-made fly costume. If you’re more of the anti-social type, this costume is perfect for you: just put your face directly against a wall to successfully become a “fly on the wall.”
16. It’s a bird! It’s an alien! It’s a bird-alien… thing! You’ve gotta hand it to this partygoer: she’s dedicated herself to the look, donning a creepy, alien stare to go with the rest of the suit. The strangest part of this photo is that, judging by those in the background, she’s the only one who dressed up.
Todd Franklin / Flickr
17. Here you have a well-dressed pair of nightmarish weasels. (Or are they aardvarks?) Either way, something about the look of absolute terror in the lady weasel’s eyes adds a sense of dread to the photograph. Quality costumes? Or no?
18. If you and your friends are on the hunt for the perfect group costume, look no further! Four cats and an out-of-place dwarf will not only take home any Halloween costume competition trophy, but it will also make for the hottest album cover of the decade. Me-yowza!
19. While you’ve got to hand it to this costumer for her intricate design, there are a few elements that might leave you questioning your understanding of a plane’s structure. Namely: what’s the deal with those canisters wired to her head?
20. Whether you loved or hated elementary school class photographs, at the end of the day, they were always nice pictures for Mom to frame above the mantle. This one though? Thanks to these creepy, smiling sacks, this is a class photograph better off for a haunted house.
These costumes took some serious creativity to make! Which ones would you want to try out for Halloween?
Share these vintage Halloween costumes with your friends below!