6 Retro Halloween Costumes for Baby Boomer Women Over 40 or 50
by Christina Gregoire
It's easy to come up with your own sexy Halloween costume or to tweak a cute, ready-made retro outfit and make it your own. Just use your imagination and let your mind travel back in time.
If you're a Baby Boomer, you've probably lived through these vintage styles the first time around or had an older cousin who did. Here are some of my favorite retro costumes.
Lots of women conjure up poodle skirts when they think of 1950's outfits. However, poodle skirts and saddle shoes look dorky to me. If that's your thing, knock yourself out. However, retro Rockabilly is much sexier and way more flattering. C'mon... does anyone outside of Japan look hip in saddle shoes?
And, you can wear a retro polka-dot dress (or a similar rockabilly dress) out clubbing or on vacay, so think of this dress is an investment. To make your own costume, look for fabric with cherries, polka dots, roses, or hearts. If you prefer leopard or sailor-tattoo prints, Rockabilly Punk is a more current incarnation. Just add temporary tattoos and play some Stray Cats. (Rockabilly is best on hourglass figures. Pear shapes can work it, too.)
Accessories for Rockabilly Costumes
You can make or find additional accessories to give your costume more authenticity if you have the time or the money. As with all of these costumes, you don't have to wear everything on the list... just enough so people don't have to ask what you are.
Rockabilly looks best on women with smallish waists, but if you can sew, you can pull it off. Or, try a skirt instead of a dress.
- Rockabilly Scarf Headband: Pull your hair back with a scarf or tie a scarf around your neck like Sandy in Grease.
- Rockabilly Shoes: There are lots of cute shoes online. For a cheaper fix, find some old pumps and glitter-spray them to match your dress. If you're too old to rock-n-roll in heels, get flat maryjanes or used ballet flats and tart them up with bows and kitschy doodads.
- Petticoat: If you were born in the 50's, you'll remember wearing itchy tulle petticoats under your dresses as a child. However, it's much sexier to let your petticoat peek out from under your skirt.
- Rockabilly Button Earrings: Cover old earrings with fabric or buy something inexpensive at Etsy.
- Rockabilly Wig: I like dark hair with short bangs for this look, but you can wear your own hair.
- Red Lipstick.
- Bring Elvis.
Now, this is a decade I know.
The First Lady Costume (in the link above) includes the jacket, the coat, and the hat for under $30. Stand up straight and stay away from anything other than champagne... and, throw a lot of French phrases around. Complete your look with accessories, so partiers will know you're not a drunken stewardess from a time warp:
- Thriftstore Pearls and Pearl Studs
- Little White Gloves
- Dark Brown Hair or Wig
Buy or make a cheap, Carnaby-Streetish, straight or flared, shift type of dress (think Goldie Hawn on Laugh-in or Mary Quant in London)... or buy a new mod dress that you can wear later. Your hairstyle should be stick straight (remember ironing your hair) or in a straight bob or a flip.
Do not flash peace signs when wearing your mod costume... no matter what you see online. Peace signs and V-fingers did not show up until later in the decade, when the antiwar, hippie movement began. (Mod fashion looks best on women with flat-chested or boy-shaped bodies... but you can pull this off even if you're curvy.)
Accessories for a Mod Costume:
- Round White Sunglasses
- White Go-Go Boots
- White Stockings (The photos have it wrong.)
- Cheap, Colorful Hoop Earrings
- A Fun British Cap (if you can find one that isn't skeezy.)
- Stark White Lipstick (or shimmery white lipstick)
- Black Eyeliner (Rim your eyes like Cher or draw lower lashes ala Twiggy.)
Want to know how to dress like a flower-child hippie? This is my specialty.
Pulling together a hippie costume is easy because there are so many options. You don't need to spend much money to get a boho hippie look. If you're skinnyish, wear the biggest bell bottoms (jeans or pants) you can find. If you're heavier, you'll be more comfortable in a long maxi dress. This is one of my favorite costumes because many of the "costume" pieces can be worn later.
If you have ANY boho tendencies, you should be able to find most of these accoutrements in your closet or at a thrift store.
The most important thing is the long hair, so you might need to purchase an inexpensive wig at Target or Walmart. I you're wearing your own hair, you could just frizz it out by curling it with bobby pins or by using a crimping iron. If your hair is too thin for frizzing, you should wear a floppy hat.
- Hippie Headband (or scarf)
- Beads: The more the merrier... get seed beads or wooden beads. (not too many plastic beads, no debutante round pearls.)
- Round Hippie Glasses (unisex, John Lennon, Janis Joplin)
- Large Hoop or Chandelier Earrings
- Flat Sandals or Moccassins: Or, just go barefoot.
- No Makeup: You can wear foundation, but wear it on your lips as well, with no other lipstick or gloss.
Since "real" hippies often made their own clothes and they improvised, this is one of the fastest, cheapest costumes you can come up with at the last minute. You can go as authentic or as cornball as you want.
Some version of this "costume" will look good on any body type, so consider buying real clothing rather than Halloween fancy-dress clothing. And, the peace sign is totally groovy with this outfit.
I'm sure you all remember this costume, but I'll refresh your memory with a few concepts that I recall from my disco days. Only hookers wore mini dresses during this era, as minis were out of style. Most jumpsuits had halter tops, but remember that jumpsuits are not as easy to fit as pants and a top or a disco dress. If you need sleeves, look for something like this polyester disco outfit. And, I don't care what you see online... no peace signs.
Disco Accessories for Women
- * Platform Shoes: It's not disco if it doesn't have a platform. I won't let you wear your costume out of the house if you're too old to wear platform heels
- * Rhinestone Necklaces: All flash and no cash. Wear goldtone jewelry when possible. Any large earrings are fine.
- * Disco Wig: You don't have to be blonde, but hair with "wings" is the iconic look. An afro (in any color) is a good alternative. And, if you don't have big hair, sew some sequins onto a beret.
It's not too difficult to become a Madonna Wannabe. You'll need to have some of the right accessories or people will think you're just wearing your regular party clothes. Here are some ideas.
- * Madonna Wig: Or, you can try crimping or pincurling your hair...and fluff it, but don't brush it. You should spray your hair blonde.
- * Large Crosses, Pearls, Bangles
- * Lace Gloves
- * Short Tutu Over Short Leggings
- * Mesh Top: For those who need more coverage.
- * Cute Underwear Worn as Outerwear: For those who need less coverage.
Well, these are my favorite retro outfits. The more time and imagination you have, the less money you'll need. The less time you have, the more you'll need a wig. However, you don't need to wear everything on each list... just wear enough to help people guess who you are.
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