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Deco-Era Halloween Costumes from 1930: Vintage Pattern Catalogs Illustrate Masquerade Costumes of Yesterday

Published by Nilda Vilhauer

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Women’s Sewing Pattern catalogs from the 1920s and 1930s included many adult costumes for Halloween, Masquerade Parties, and Carnival. As well, they included an impressive breadth of historical costumes, from Medieval Europe to Civil War Southern Belles, to celebrate historical events. The Deco-Era 1930 McCall’s Printed Patterns Fall 1930 catalog, in production before the 1929 Wall Street Crash, offered glamorous, elaborate costumes, during a season when Americans rejected glamor in favor of thrift.

Elaborate, Glamorous Costumes from 1930

The most elaborate costumes, illustrated by the McCall’s Printed Pattern Fall 1930 catalog sampled below (see photos), include the huge, detailed Marie Antoinette costumes, and Civil War Era Southern Belle ensembles. Also impressive are the Empire Era gowns, and the slinky, colorful Pierrot and Domino costumes, so representative of the Erte-era/Deco-Era fashions.

The Standards: Pirate, Gypsy, Genie

The beautiful Deco-era versions of the standards, such as the Pirate and Gypsy costumes shown below (see photos) fit in with current fashion motifs. The high Pirate boots and long, versatile scarves are not only reminiscent of the 1930s (and the 1970s), but have come around again as staples for young fashion of today.

Costumes for Women and Young Ladies

The costume section of the McCall’s Printed Patterns catalog from 1930 included the following patterns for Women and Young Ladies:

  • Historical Costumes: Ladies’ Empire, Civil War Era (“1860 Costume”), Louis XVI Costumes, Marie Antoinette Costumes, Mayflower Pilgrims/Puritans Costumes
  • Halloween/Masquerade Costumes: Turkish Girl, Grecian Girl, Statue of Liberty, Domino, Chinese Fancy Costume, Russian Girl, Dutch Girl, Peter Pan, Genie, China Girl, Gypsy, Pirate Girl, Pierrot, Clown, Little Bo Peep/Shepherd Girl, Spanish Dancer, Flamenco Dancer, Ballet Dancer, Fairy (with wand and wings), Dutch Girl, Scotch Girl, and adorable, elaborate Cat Costumes (calico, black, and Tiger cat).

Costumes for Men and Boys

The costume section of this McCall’s Fall 1930 pattern catalog included fewer costumes for Men and Boys, but the designs were no less elaborate and detailed. The Toreador/Biullfighter costume featured tailored satin leggings, an ornate bolero jacket, and a hat which required a wire frame. The Mephisto costume, so representative of the era (see photo below for picture of the pattern illustration), would be a challenge for even an experienced seamstress. The costumes included in the 1930 McCall’s catalog were as follows:

  • Historical Costumes: Colonial/Pilgrim Costume, Empire Period Costume
  • Halloween/Masquerade Costumes: Toreador/Bull Fighter, Pirate, Wooden Soldier, Russian, Sheik, Uncle Sam, Santa Suit, Clown Suit, Pierrot, and the magnificent devil Mephisto.

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