Creepy, Corny or Comical your Costume can Define Halloween

There’s no arguing the growing popularity of Halloween. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), 7 out of 10 Americans expect to celebrate Halloween this year, the highest number recorded in the survey’s nine-year history. And despite the challenges to the global economy, Americans plan to spend $72.31 on decorations, costumes and candy, up from $66.28 in 2010. Perhaps this trend is an indication of America’s reprioritization of consumer spending. Folks can’t afford a lavish vacation this year, but they can shift a few dollars to their Halloween activities. And the fact that Halloween is a non-gift holiday makes it a perennial favorite!

The NRF says that the average U.S. consumer is expected to spend $26.52 on costumes. And did you know that $310 million will be spent on pet costumes? Fido is so humiliated; he’d rather have a few extra Snausages.

There is almost no mention of a Halloween costume in England, Ireland, or the United States until 1900. Early costumes were made at home and emphasized the pagan and gothic nature of the holiday, but by the 1930s costumes based on characters in film, literature, and radio were popular. A.S. Fishbach, Ben Cooper, Inc., and other firms began mass-producing Halloween costumes for sale in stores as trick-or-treating became popular in North America.

Halloween was originally promoted as a children’s holiday, and as a means of reining in the wicked behavior of teenagers. Early Halloween costumes were aimed at kids, but after the 1950s, as Halloween increasingly came to be celebrated by adults, the Halloween costume was worn by adults as much as children.
Image by AmyCathryn

Throughout Halloween history, costumes have typically included monsters such as vampires, ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Pop culture figures such as presidents, athletes, celebrities, film or television characters (e.g. Star Wars or Star Trek), and comic book heroes are also incredibly popular. A modern trend is for women (and sometimes, men) to use Halloween as a justification to wear revealing costumes, showing more skin than would generally be socially tolerable.

According to the NRF, what were the top five costumes for children in 2010?
1. Princess
2. Spider-Man
3. Witch
4. Pirate
5. Disney Princess (not to be confused with regular ol’ “princess”)

What were the top five adult costumes?
1. Witch (and wanton witch)
2. Vampire (and vampy vampire)
3. Pirate (and painted pirate)
4. Nurse (and naughty nurse)
5. Wench/Tart/Vixen (nuff said)

So what will you “be” this Halloween? The Retroist will take the entire month to explore the subject of retro Halloween costumes. We’ll delve into men in drag, couples in costume (e.g. Frankenstein and bride of Frankenstein), creepy costumes, pet costumes, Halloween parades, and more. Plus, we’ll give you the opportunity to guess the mystery costume!

To get the haunted heads rolling, let’s start with a classic character often featured through the Halloween ages: Raggedy Ann.

Raggedy Ann is a fictional character created by American writer Johnny Gruelle (1880–1938) in a series of children’s books. The character was created in 1915 as a doll, and was introduced to the public in the 1918 book Raggedy Ann Stories. Raggedy Andy Stories (1920) introduced the character of her brother, Raggedy Andy, dressed in sailor suit and hat. And you thought Raggedy Andy was Ann’s boyfriend, you creep. Here are some great Raggedy images from the Halloween archives.
From Angela, a somewhat ticked off looking Ann from the early ‘80s.

A lovely Raggedy couple, quite skinny, and a bit creepy by gaymay.
Men have always felt the need to adopt the lady’s best costumes. This 1978 pic comes courtesy of grubbybastard.
I told you that pets were getting in on the Halloween act, like Dot here posing as Raggedy Ann, posted by Supertoys.
And this pooch by Lisa Pisa.
Owners and pets sometimes team up on a couples’ costume, like in this pic by OC Always.
And pets are not just dogs, as evidenced by this pic by no name slob

Some have approached the classic character with a more modern take; goth or zombiefied Raggedy Anns…
Image by Jodi K.
Image by in2photography
Image by Laríssa

But kids always pull off Ann and Andy the best…
Like this young gal who illustrates a common pattern of holding one’s Raggedy Ann doll, while dressing like Ann herself. Image by amelia studio.

Raggedy Ann, a Clown, and a Princess
An early ‘70s trio of Ann, a clown, and a princess from Fossil Freak
This troupe of ballerina, Raggedy Ann, and clown by grubbybastard
Cutie with skeleton friend by Corgipants
This Ann and Andy pair seem to be dressed for the wrong holiday, but adorable no matter the occasion. Image by höpöhöpö.

This Raggedy Andy (by LeahK) is very well posed…notice the UPC sticker still on the pumpkin, maybe mom plans to return it after the photo shoot?
Not sure that Raggedy Ann had such angry eyebrows, but a cute pic by Photoshopguy42.
Ready for trick-or-treating with her sack lunch. Image by Theresa Thompson.
This brother/sister duo looks like the real Raggedy couple. Image by Kim/Jaren/Brooklyn.
Two Raggedy Anns each with their own take on the look, with an assortment of friends, by zoetropa. Ann hung around with many a stormtrooper in the ’70s.


Don’t look at the dogs, work the lock! You looked at the dogs!

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4 thoughts on “Creepy, Corny or Comical your Costume can Define Halloween

  1. Atari Adventure Square says:

    Great pics, Metagirl.
    I dig the haunted house vibe of that little girl clutching her doll.
    I bet if one stares long enough at the pic, the doll will turn its head and curse you with its devil eyes.

    The Raggedys were friends of mine before I took my first step.
    I still have one of them stashed securely in a plastic vault, somewhere in our house.

    Y’know, they both have heart tattoos on their chest.
    I find that fact both endearing and unnerving, in light of the spooky holiday.

  2. Great post, Metagirl! Though it was during Christmas I think the two kids are just adorable, especially how the sister has a, “What’chu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?” expression on her face.

    Now AAS…that is almost like you are tempting us to gaze at the picture for hours, sort of like standing in front of a mirror and calling on Bloody Mary. ARRGH! Did that doll just move?! ;)

  3. I forgot about the chest tattoos on these dolls…did Andy have one, or was it just Ann? I remember that Ann had an “I Love You” heart on her bare cloth bosum. I just read that the “I Love You” heart was a replacement for an actual candy heart in the original Raggedy Ann, added to indicate that she was sweet to the core…not sure if there’s any truth to the candy heart, but it sounds yummy.

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