Costumes – Not Just for Halloween

Photo Credit: Michal Jeska via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Michal Jeska via Compfight cc

Did you ever place dress-up as a kid? I remember trying on my mother’s shoes and throwing her purse over my arm and pretending to be a grown up. There is something powerful in the act of putting on a costume and pretending to be someone else. Perhaps someone you wish you could be for just a short time.

Photo Credit: HornintheWest via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HornintheWest via Compfight cc

I think that is one of the reasons readers (and authors) love historical novels. We get to step into the shoes of someone who lived in a different era and imagine what it would be like if we had lived then. And it’s not just novelists and readers. Think of all the living history museums there are around the country. How many reenactors dedicate months of their time and significant dollars from their bank accounts to recreating battle scenes from the civil war. How many historians make presentations in costume to help bring their topics alive to their audiences.

Photo Credit: HornintheWest via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: HornintheWest via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: FreeVerse Photography via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: FreeVerse Photography via Compfight cc











At one of the writing conferences I go to every year, there is a genre dinner on the first night where authors have the chance to dress up like one of their characters or in a way that represents their genre. I typically wear a denim skirt, boots, and cowboy hat, but I secretly long to become more authentic in my dress-up.

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I recently found a website that offers professionally made historical costumes, and I felt like a kid in a candy store. A rather expensive candy store . . . but there were so many delights, I stopped caring about the price tags.

I’ve decided to start saving my pennies. Maybe by next year, I’ll be decked out in the outfit below.

Dream OutfitShoes – $50

Cameo Brooch – $20

Crinoline for underneath – $50

Professionally made Polonaise set – $275

Getting to step back in time and live for a few hours as one of my characters – Priceless

I think I’ll have to watch for a sale. If you like to geek out on historical clothing, the site where I found all this great stuff is Recollections: Historic Clothing Reminiscent of Centuries Past.

  • If you could dress up this Halloween as a character from your favorite novel or time period, what would you choose?
  • Have you ever been to a living history museum? Did the costumes add to the atmosphere? Did you wish they handed them out at the entrance so you could truly immerse yourself in the experience?


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For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at:

18 thoughts on “Costumes – Not Just for Halloween”

  1. We don’t go anywhere to dress in costumes. But it would be fun to do it every once in a while. I have never heard of a living history museum. I’ll have to look into this.

    • We have a small historic village near my hometown, Janine. Most days it’s just a place where you can walk through on your own and look at the buildings. But a few days a year, they turn it into a living history museum where local history enthusiasts dress up in period costumes and give demonstrations to show the audience what live was like in that time period. They have a black smith, a lady who tells you all about her heirloom garden, a doctor/dentist, a newspaper editor with a printing press. It’s really quite a production. Maybe you have something similar at a place near your home.

  2. there is a place in Piegon Forge that takes the old timey pictures,you can dress up in costumes from back in time and they are taken in black and white photos,,its really neat and fun to be someone else in the past for a few minutes

    • I LOVE those old time photo places. My friends and I took one of those photos back when I was in high school (all dressed as saloon girls the complete opposite of our true personalities) and I still have that photo on display today. I keep meaning to get my nearly grown kids with my husband and I to do another one, but we don’t have a local place that does them. I’m going to have to hunt one down. 🙂

  3. I’m actually dressing up as “Rosie the Riveter” from WWII this Halloween. 🙂
    I just got back from visiting Historical Nauvoo, IL and I loved the costumes and the entire feel of going “back in time.” 🙂

    • Rosie is a classic, Tori. That’s perfect! And Nauvoo sounds wonderful!
      BTW – Did you know that my next full-length novel (No Other Will Do coming in June) has a secondary character named Tori? Short for Victoria. She takes center stage in a follow-up novella I’m writing right now. 😉

  4. I would probably pick regency; I’ve been thinking up my Lizzie Darcy costume for years, but haven’t gotten around to making it yet. I love living history museums. If I had lived by one as a teen it definitely would have been my choice for work!

    • I love regency costumes. They are just so elegant. And working at a living history museum would be fabulous! It’s kind of like getting a Disney princess gig at Disney World. Ha!

  5. I love the renaissance time period. I had the privilege of going with my aunt and my mother to a renaissance fair fully dressed in time period clothing! It was amazing. It completely changed the experience, made it more as if we were a part of the fair rather than just observing it. It was such great fun!!

    • That sounds like so much fun, Corey! My husband took my oldest son to Medieval times in Dallas for his 13th birthday, and he still talks about how cool it was. I’m sure a fair would be even better. And I love that you dressed up as well. Makes the time machine effect complete. 🙂

  6. I love dressing up in period outfits. I have patterns for many, but haven’t sewn in a while. My daughter and her family do Civil War reenacting (civilians). She has the fabric and pattern for a new ball gown. I need to sew it, but she picked one of the hardest patterns out there. I have quite a stash of costumes since I sewed the children almost every year when they were young. We also have done pow-wows. Our daughter was a fancy shawl dancer. My husband has the leather breaches and ribbon shirt, our son a ribbon shirt, Our daughter her regalia, and I have a dress and shawl also. I have a Cherokee style dress I haven’t finished. My husband has his kilt outfit, but not the dress jacket. At some point, I am going to get a medieval outfit done. Want one the next time we go to a Ren Faire.

      • I was a children’s librarian and that let me dress up more than most people. I had costumes for some of the stuffed animals and had had enough costumes for book characters if we had a float in a local parade. I really miss it,

  7. I actually work at a Living History Museum in Utah It’s addictive to dress up and teach about simpler times, play games with children and work on historic crafts with visitors.

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