The Paper Dress Masquerade Party: 1920

paper halloween costumes

The Hallowe’en hostess says in despair, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

But what about a paper dress masquerade party? It’s loads of fun. Ask all the girls to come dressed in the prettiest paper costumes they can devise. Tell them that before they take off their masks at midnight they will pass in a grand review in front of a court of witches.

Prize for Prettiest.

A prize should be awards to the prettiest and most unusual paper dress at the ball. It might be one of those flirtatiously inclined bisque young ladies that are so popular now, gowned in an adorable paper Hallowe’en costume. Or it might be a little bit of real art, in the shape of a replica of a famous artist’s statuette of a cat. If the lucky girl is a lover of cats, she is likely to be overjoyed at such a remembrance of the spirit of Hallowe’en. Of course, there’ll be second and third prizes, perhaps a mysterious little witch concealing beneath her skirt a pin cushion or vanity box, and a miniature pumpkin filled with colored candies.

New Use for Shelf Paper.

But let’s not forget the paper frocks—they’re the real center of excitement of this party. And here are only a few of the possibilities.

Take the afternoon frock at the left, for instance. You might not guess it, but mother’s shelf paper, with a riotous border of red, yellow and blue, makes the bodice and perky short peplum. A garland of paper flowers is the girdle, and there is just one shoulder strap—another flower garland. The skirt is of plain blue heavy paper, with a tunic almost the length of the skirt.

Next is a dainty tea gown all of orange crepe paper. The skirt has three flounces. The sleeves start out to be regular kimono sleeves, but end in flowing paper ribbons, reaching to the hem of the skirt.

The girl in the center is dressed in a clown costume of white, with a white paper ruff about her neck and a high fool’s cap on her curls.

And all over costume and cap are pasted all manner of black paper cats and scary faces and witches and owls.

Sports and Bathing.

Then comes a striking sports dress of black and white checked paper. A braided paper hat, white above with black facing, makes the whole thing just right. The dress is very simple. Black paper fringe trims the mere suggestions of sleeves, black pompom decorate the wide black paper belt and white outlines the seams of the short skirt.

Last is a paper bathing suit. Its pale yellow as to background, and has great splashes of green in the shape of conventional flowers near the hem and at the waist-line. Green petals on the yellow encircle the hem and neck. Sleeves there are none, but a frilly green cap there most certainly is, trimmed with a big yellow flower in front.

The West Virginian [Fairmont, WV] 18 October 1920: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Cheap and cheerful” about sums it up. “Deadly” might be a third adjective to describe Hallowe’en fancy dress made from paper when coupled with the inevitable candles and bonfires of that holiday. Stories of paper-clad revellers burnt to death were distressingly common in the press. Mrs Daffodil will forebear from quoting any of these, so as not to dampen the holiday spirit, but does urge her readers to use caution around open flames if trying any of the fashions above.  Mrs Daffodil does have one final economical hint for Hallowe’en from Mary Dawson of the Mary Dawson Game Book, 1916:

If a costume party would be too great a tax upon prospective guests, a head-dress party can be substituted, the head-dresses being nothing more expensive than colored paper.

Suggestions for head-dresses include: a Rajah’s turban, an Egyptian lady, Dutch caps, cocked hats, a chef’s cap, dunce cap, and a Mediaeval Princess’s pointed hat. It is suggested that “flame-proof” papers be used.

More crape-paper costumes from a 1920s party book.

More crape-paper costumes from a 1920s party book.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

 

 

 

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