The Origins Of Fancy Dress

The Origins Of Fancy DressIt is virtually impossible to give an exact date when fancy dress was first introduced, or indeed to point to the specific location of the very first fancy dress party. However, there are clear roots that span through history, although early costume parties required much more effort on the part of the guest; outfits would have been made completely from scratch in most cases while the masks that were used at masquerade balls were certainly not cheap or particularly easy to make.

The first events that we might consider to be fancy dress or costume parties were indeed those of masquerade balls. These were popularised in Venice in the 15th Century although there is evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks between Christian festivals had started two or even three hundred years preceding this date. The Masquerade Balls saw nobles wearing ornate masks and such frivolities were enjoyed during private celebrations, such as those at wedding, as well as at Masquerade Balls.

However, masquerade balls were eventually viewed as being a blight on civilisation and they fell firmly out of favour by the 19th Century and the predecessor to what we would now consider a costume ball or fancy dress party really took over. Queen Victoria is believed to have been a big fan of fancy dress and parties around this time often involved dressing as historical figures. This trend of borrowing from history to find a modern theme continues today in the shape of fancy dress parties themed in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and many other eras.

Fancy dress costumes and parties became ever popular during the 20th Century and once the 2nd World War was over, the accessibility of items from the USA and other countries around the world meant that outfits became more lavish and, ultimately, expensive. Themes would become much more varied and as well as classic ideas such as dressing up as figures from the past, the introduction and widespread popular cultures of music, film, and TV were introduced into the fancy dress world.

Whereas costumers were once made to order or made at home, there are shops both online and offline that specialise in the manufacture and retail of incredible looking outfits in every genre. Visiting a costume shop is something akin to a cross between an episode of Mr Benn and watching the latest version of films like the Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland.

Buying fancy dress outfits online offers a certain degree of convenience and availability that may not be offered to many people. Rather than travelling tens of miles to get to a dedicated costume shop, you can simply log on and start your search. No matter how niche the theme of the party you are bound to be able to find a suitable costume online.

Fancy dress is no longer limited to parties and balls. The availability of inexpensive outfits means that stag and hen nights, rugby tours, and any big night out is often accompanied by a demand to wear a themed costume. Whereas it was once possible to buy costumes for multiple uses or that would convert to standard dress following an event, the cost of modern outfits means that you can buy a new outfit every time you are invited to such an event or occasion.

Dressing up and wearing costumes is something that stems back to childhood for most of us. Spiderman, Smurf, and Princess outfits are commonplace in among the school uniforms in a child’s wardrobe and getting dressed up for a fancy dress party means enjoying ourselves like we still enjoyed the freedom of childhood.

David writes about the changing world of how classic brands continue to offer the same range of successful products decade after decade and survive the ever changing storm in one of the world’s most competitive and fad-focussed consumer markets.

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