The Fascinating Evolution of the Witch Costume


Let’s just say, it’s changed a lot since 1900.

Witches rule! At least when it comes to dressing up: According to predictions by The National Retail Foundation, it will be the most popular adult Halloween costume in 2015 for the 11th year in a row, with more than 4.3 million adults planning to don pointy hats and broomsticks.

But while this classic get-up has only topped the list for a little over a decade, its history is much deeper. We decided to dig through old photos for a few witch-y gems. Are you ready to take the ride (on a broom, that is) with us?


While this traditional get-up was more conservative than the witches of today, it was pretty festive for the turn of the century. We also want to give this woman bonus points for including a real black cat.


From their cinched waists to their snazzy capes, these ladies were killing it. For an extra touch of Halloween spirit, they added jack-o’-lantern patterns to their pointy hats.


These British women in 1929 embraced simplicity when it came to dressing up for the holiday. They’re enjoying afternoon tea outside the Hospital of Holy and Undivided Trinity, where we imagine they brought much Halloween cheer to their patients.


This velvet dress with flared sleeves paired with patent leather heels is a fancier version of the other costumes we’ve seen. Plus, there seems to be some sorcery at work here. For a second, we thought this witch was actually flying — but she’s just sitting a white block.


Well, it was the era of the pin-up girl, but this revealing outfit (it’s practically see-through!) is still a bit startling for 1946. Published on the cover of Adventure (a popular pulp magazine), we bet many a young lad had this issue hiding under his bed.


By 1955, the modern witch outfit was starting to take shape. Here, actress Dusty Anderson wears a strapless version that completely bares her legs. Oh, the horror!


Children’s stories and shows from the era, like this 1967 production of “The Wrong Mother Goose,” often featured witches as the antagonists. Someone should tell this one that she forgot to take out her hair curlers!


Leave it up to Sonny and Cher to take things up a notch. In October 1973, they had dancers perform in snazzy outfits on their variety show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. Fortunately, their, um, creative use of pumpkins didn’t reappear in later renditions of the witch costume.


Dark lipstick adds an element of mysteriousness to this group of Halloween partygoers, who were photographed at a Halloween event in Salem, Massachusetts, where the infamous Salem Witch Trials took place in the 17th Century.


Over 12 million viewers tuned in to Sabrina the Teenage Witchduring its peak popularity in the late-90s. For the most part, actress Melissa Joan Hart wore pretty normal clothing on the show, but in this studio shot, she shows off a pretty elaborate sorceress ensemble.


Now you know a costume is popular when Kate Middleton chooses it for Halloween. In 2007, before her royal days, a 25-year-old Kate donned this sparkly dress and cape at London’s Mahiki Club.


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