Halloween is nearly upon us and every self-respecting Victorianist is contemplating stepping back in time and into the breeches of our favourite historical characters—real and imagined.
Below is a list of the Secret Victorianist’s top picks of nineteenth-century-inspired costumes for you to consider.
1. Miss Havisham
The perennial bride in Charles Dickens’s 1860-1861 Great Expectations is a killer Halloween choice. White dress? Check. Veil? Check? Grey hair and cobwebs? For extra Gothic flare consider singeing your gown and adding dramatic flames. Who says a wedding dress need only be worn once?
2. Queen Victoria
That’s right—go as the monarch of the era herself, with Prince Albert in tow if you’re after a couples’ costume. Otherwise, embrace widowhood and dress head to toe in black.
3. A character from Pride and Prejudice (zombies optional)
Who doesn’t want to an excuse to unleash their inner Lizzie Bennet? Grab some friends and argue about who is each sister if you’re not lucky enough to have found your Darcy. The Pride and Prejudice with Zombies movie is recommended Halloween viewing and could also provide a fun twist on the costume idea.
4. Long John Silver
Before Captain Jack Sparrow lit up our screens it was Long John Silver, the villain from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1882 Treasure Island, who was the world’s most famous fictional pirate. This costume is all in the accessories: strap on a wooden leg, perch a parrot on your shoulder and grab a map marking the way to those elusive pieces of eight.
5. Abraham Lincoln
The United States’ most-distinctive nineteenth-century president is a great costume choice. The top hat and facial hair will make you instantly recognisable, even if you don’t want to shell out on realistic historical garb.
6. Florence Nightingale
While others are donning their ‘sexy nurse’ outfits, dress up as the lady with the lamp, who tended to British soldiers during the Crimean War.
The French emperor shares the laurel with Queen Victoria for the most famous nineteenth-century look. Don’t forget the hat, the epaulettes, or, our course, the pose.
8. The Statue of Liberty
This famous gift from the French to the American republic was dedicated in 1886. Dress in copper tones, rather than green, for a true nineteenth-century feel.
What could be more classic for Halloween than to dress as the count from Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic. Many won’t know the story’s Victorian provenance though, so try to read the novel before you go to your party!
10. The Nutcracker and Sugar Plum Fairy
If you’re itching for Halloween to be over, Christmas can come early with your costume choice. The ballet was first performed in 1892 and is great Halloween inspiration. Don your tutu to be the Sugar Plum Fairy, look distinguished in your red coat as the nutcracker himself, or maybe even go for a giant rat costume.