Hollywood Costumes

Make Your Own Costume Ideas
Make Your Own Costume Ideas

Hollywood brings out the stars in everyone's eyes, so when it's time for fancy dress, we often think of wearing Hollywood costumes. But Hollywood means different things to different people, and each era had its own stars and starlets, each with an individual style and each with "signature" roles. How can Hollywood inspire your next costume?

The Classics

Charlie Chaplin. Fred Astaire. Ginger Rogers. Marilyn Monroe. Bing Crosby. Jeannette McDonald. Yul Brynner. Grace Kelly. Jimmy Stewart. There are so many stars from the golden age of cinema! Fred was always (or so it seems) in black tie, while Ginger wore ravishing ballgowns that flowed and swirled beautifully on the dance floor. Marilyn Monroe was a buxom goddess, with her platinum hair, curvaceous figure, and revealing dresses. One of the perennial favorite Hollywood costumes is Marilyn's white, flowing dress from The Seven Year Itch--the one that blew upwards all around her when she stepped on the sidewalk grate. Yul Brynner's costumes from The King and I are also perennial favorites, as is Charlie Chaplin's signature Tramp.


The first name anyone thinks of when western films are mentioned is John Wayne. In these films, the men are men and the women so very womanly. Cowboys and Indians Hollywood style is still quite popular, with the long, feminine dresses of the pioneer women, the rough cowboy attire of the men, and the flamboyant costumes of the American Indians. Other famous western characters include The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gabby Hayes, and many great Indian chiefs.

Civil War Movies

Women love dressing up in Civil War costume, because there's nothing so affirming as the admiration given to a woman in corsets and hoopskirts. Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler are, of course, the perennial favorites, as are Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and Abraham Lincoln.

Comic-Book Superheroes and Horror Flick Villains

Everyone wants super powers, and what could be more fun than masquerading as your favorite: Spider-man, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Elastigirl, Mr. Incredible, Frozone ... the possibilities are endless. And if you prefer the "dark side," try some of the great comic-book movie villains: the Joker, Doc Ock, the Riddler.

And then there are the scary villains of the horror genre. Think Jason, Freddy, Dracula, Chucky ... if you're looking to shock and scare, then this is the type of Hollywood villain to choose.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Here again, there is a tremendous range of possibilities for your movie-inspired costumes. The Star Wars and Star Trek movies have been favorites for decades, with a panoply of heroes, villains, and weird creatures to choose from. Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Princess Amidala, Quai Gon Jin, Yoda, The Emperor, Darth Vader, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Khan .... But while these two movie franchises are certainly in the forefront of Hollywood sci-fi costumery, there are others that offer equally fun possibilities. Consider ET, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

In fact, the "Lord of the Rings" series and the "Harry Potter" series have proved to be immensely popular for dress-up since their release. Hobbits, wizards, witches, ents, orcs, elves ... what more inspiring and exciting costumes can be imagined?

And don't forget those classics of fantasy: The Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Who could resist protraying Willy Wonka, Glinda the Good Witch, Dorothy, or the Tin Man?

Princesses and Kings

Of special interest are historical movies that include characters like Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and Genghis Khan. History is replete with possibilities for costuming, and Hollywood has exploited history through the years, with movies like Disney's The Sword and the Rose, or the more recent Braveheart.

Of course, royalty are not just to be found in history; fantasy has its share of characters. Consider The Princess Bride with Princess Buttercup, Westley, Prince Humperdinck, Fezzik, and the incredible swordsman Inigo Montoya. Or what about the retelling of the classic Cinderella story in Ever After. Danielle de Barbarac, Prince Henry, and Leonardo da Vinci in gorgeous Renaissance garb!

Pirate Movies

Before there was Pirates of the Caribbean, there was Blackbeard, Captain Hook, Long John Silver, Billy Bones, Captain Kidd, and a host of other classic Hollywood pirates. Pirates are a long-standing favorite among both men and women, and offer endless possibilities for costume design.

Sources of Hollywood Costumes

Nearly any costumer, online or brick-and-mortar, will have plenty of Hollywood-inspired costumes to choose from. Simplicity and McCalls offer patterns for making your own versions of some of the costumes. For historical and Civil War costumes, there are dozens of reenactment and historical societies that can help you find or make your costume. Some online sources include:

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Hollywood Costumes