American Costume Ideas

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American Costume Ideas – Overview


American Independence Day (the US National Day) is on July 4th and thus there is a strong likelihood that America could crop up as a theme idea. The theme, like the county itself, offers vast potential. so in order to channel your thoughts we have selected a few sub-themes and suggestions.

American Icons
The leading icons are probably The Statue of Liberty and Uncle Sam. Though the American Bald Eagle might come in a close third, a costume for this is not quite so readily available. When thinking about US Presidents, apart from the present incumbent, Barack Obama and those that are in living memory, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are probably the main two former Presidents that might be recognisable, if anyone nowadays wants to dress up as them?

More accessible costumes and symbols of the American Dream, might include the Marvel creation Captain America(a Miss Captain America is now also available), the Cheerleader (which continues to be extremely popular, because of High School Musical, Grease and Glee), the American Footballer and the 1950s Diner Waitresses (on roller skates as an extra challenge).

Wild West
Indians (or Native Americans) are now less fashionable than they used to be for Wild West parties, but for those who want to be different, at Props & Frocks we do stock a range of costumes, jewellery, bows and arrows and other accessories.

Cowboys still tend to be one of the most popular costumes for Wild West parties. Cowgirls are possibly less so as there are fewer female role models (Annie Oakley and Doris Day springs to mind, and some might remember Cat Balou (Jane Fonda) from the Sixties). Country and Western singers, such as Dolly Parton have also given the cowgirl a more glitzy image that that portrayed by Doris Day as Calamity Jane. However, when faced with this theme, many females now tend to gravitate more to the saloon-girls style fashions, which we have in a range of colours and concepts.

Western is often used as a fancy dress theme in it’s own right, so take a look here for lots more Western or Wild West Costume ideas

Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a bit of a cheat, because whilst sheltering under the American theme, you can then use the wide range of Casino Resorts in this City of Light in the Nevada Desert as an excuse for a range of other non-American costumes. Obviously you have already got the Wild West covered (you are virtually in it in Las Vegas as Arizona is just next door). In Vegas they have very thoughtfully put together a version of the essence of New York, with its own scaled down statue

of Liberty, for the benefit of those who cannot be bothered to fly to the East Coast. However other world cities are also represented here such as Paris and Venice (with a canal which is a lot bluer than the real thing and several storeys above street level).They have not quite got round to capturing the essence of the England of nowadays, but you can usefully choose costumes from our range of medieval outfits to represent Olde England as seen in the Excalibur resort. Also possible are Pirates (at Treasure Island), Circus Characters (at Circus Circus) and an entire range of film characters (notably those from The Wizard of Oz) at the MGM Grand. More in depth information on Vegas will be available in our forthcoming specialist information sheet.

Las Vegas is often used as a fancy dress theme in it’s own right, so take a look here for lots more Las Vegas Costume ideas

New Orleans
Aside from being the birthplace of Jazz,New Orleans is one of the major world centres for Mardi Gras and Carnival, with green, gold and purple being the three predominant colours. Well known for its French Quarter and its connections with Voodoo, which were epitomised in the James Bond film Live and Let Die it has a unique feel and is an interesting take on an American theme. Obviously the citys encounter with Hurricane Katrina caused major damage and heartache to the inhabitants, but their spirit lives on and the Good Times continue to roll.

Hollywood
A Hollywood theme is synonymous with a movies event, but in deference to the American theme, you might want to concentrate on US film stars such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean or movies with an obvious American back-story such as Gone With The Wind. The latter gives females the opportunity to be a Southern Belle, whilst males can either look dashing in a Confederate or Union Soldiers uniform, or model themselves on Rhett Butler. Other Hollywood films also putting men in uniform include GI Blues, Top Gun and An Officer and a Gentleman.

Hollywood is often used as a fancy dress theme in it’s own right, so take a look here for lots more Hollywood Costume ideas

We hope we have given you a few additional ideas for your American theme event. The above is just a small sample of some of the costumes and accessories that Props and Frocks can offer and you might have your own ideas. Red/white and blue are the obvious colour choices for this theme, and aside from the costumes and accessories mentioned above, we also stock red, white and blue bunting, make-up and hair colours. So, come and have a chat and see what we can do to help.

Hawaiian Costume Ideas

Hawaiian Fancy Dress Theme

An Hawaiian costume theme is always more popular during the summer months and is often linked with an outdoor barbecues & beach parties (although it can also be used as an American theme).

Now we cant guarantee the great British weather, but we can guarantee a great party if you use an Hawaiian theme.

Theming an indoor room can be difficult, so why not use one of the fabulous scene savers (that come in various designs), they can transform any room into a tropical paradise.

If you are outside, why not have a beach area, where kids can play sandcastles?

Ladies, Did you know that a flower behind your left ear, indicates that you are married, or taken, a flower behind your right ear, indicates that you are single?

Complete the colourful look with brightly coloured cocktail umbrellas. Cocktails to serve include:

  • Pina Colada
  • Blue Hawaii
  • Mai Tai

A Hawaiian theme is great for people who are not keen on dressing up, as you could just wear beach or summer clothing and just add a flower garland or 2 to create the Hawaiian feel. For those who are more adventurous, wear grass skirts, coconut bras, and long black wigs, or colourful Hawaiian print shirts and dresses.

Hawaiian Accessory Ideas:

  • Shell Bras
  • Coconut Bras
  • Hawaiian skirts, all lengths and various colours
  • Hawaiian Flower Garlands (called leis)
  • Hawaiian Garland sets, includes a garland for your head, and either ankles, or wrists, as well as a main garland to hang around your neck
  • Hawaiian Shirts
  • Cocktail Glasses
  • Flowers for your hair
  • Magnum PI
  • Elvis in Blue Hawaii
  • Hawaii Five o Wear an Hawaiian shirt with 5 & O on it

Songs to play during your event:

  • Blue Hawaii Elvis Presley
  • Hawaii Five O theme tune
  • General Hawaiian Music
  • The Beach – Beach Boys
  • Surfin USA Beach Boys
  • In The Summertime
  • Echo Beach Martha & The Muffins
  • Beach Baby First Class
  • Beach in Hawaii Ziggy Marley
  • On the Beach Chris Rea
  • Beach Boy Blues Elvis Presley

Hollywood Costume Ideas

Hollywood Greats Fancy Dress Theme

This fancy dress theme could also be called:

  • A Night At The Oscars
  • Film or Movie Stars
  • Stars Of The Silver Screen
  • Use as part of an American themed party

This costume theme will no doubt bring a touch of glamour and glitz to your fancy dress party. The ladies will enjoy dressing up to the nines and the men have the option of dressing in costume (based on a film stars famous film roles) or a dinner jacket, as if attending a red carpet event.

Obviously, we do not need to give you any guidance when it comes to evening gowns and dinner jackets, but we can offer some costume suggestions that would be suitable for this great fancy dress theme

  • Tom Cruise - Wear an aviator costume - Top Gun
  • Vivien Leigh –  Wear a Scarlett OHara costume - Gone With The Wind
  • Marilyn Monroe Choose between the white halter neck dress (Seven Year Itch) or the pink evening dress (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) costume
  • Audrey Hepburn Wear a black evening dress Breakfast at Tiffanys
  • Elizabeth Taylor Cleopatra Costume
  • Richard Burton Roman Man Costume Mark Antony from Cleopatra
  • Clark Gable Rhett Butler Gone With The Wind
  • Keanu Reeves Neo from The Matrix
  • Sean Connery (and other Bond Actors) James Bond Costume
  • Angelina Jolie Lara Croft
  • James Dean an easy costume, just wear blue jeans, white tee shirt.
  • Judy Garland Dorothy Wizard of Oz
  • Marlon Brando The Godfather
  • Harrison Ford Indiana Jones films
  • Keira Knightley Pirates Of The Caribbean films
  • Uma Thurman Kill Bill films
  • Richard Gere An Officer & a Gentleman costume
  • Christopher Reeve Superman
  • Johnny Depp so much choice, Captain Jack Sparrow to name just one!
  • Gywneth Paltroe Shakespeare in Love
  • Heath Ledger The Joker
  • Catherine Zeta Jones Chicago
  • Val Kilmer The Saint
  • Leonardo DiCaprio Titanic
  • Sylvestar Stallone Rambo
  • Whoopi Goldberg Sister Act
  • Brad Pitt Grim Reaper Meet Joe Black
  • Greta Garbo wear a glamorous 1930s gown
  • John Wayne wear a cowboy costume
  • Halle Berry Catwoman or The Flintstones
  • Julia Roberts Pretty Woman
  • Nicole Kidman Moulin Rouge. Take a look here for loads of Moulin Rouge costume ideas
  • Rene Zellweger –  Bunny Girl from Bridget Jones

Las Vegas Costume Ideas

Las Vegas Costume Ideas

How versatile can a Las Vegas fancy dress theme be?

On the face of it, the theme might seem to be all about gangsters, gamblers and showgirls. However, as the famous casinos are located within themed resorts, there is a lot more scope than you might realise: For instance, to save people the bother of having to travel the world, there are microcosmic versions of Paris, New York and Venice on the famous Vegas strip. There are also resorts based on Treasure Island, Circus and, of course, the Wild West (Las Vegas -The Meadows- grew out of a frontier town). Given the number of other specialist hotels (such as the Vegas Hard Rock Hotel which houses many rock & pop artefacts), there are few costumes which cannot be found a place within the theme. Incidentally, an inhabitant of Vegas is known as a Las Vegan (or just Vegan), which is appropriate for a place that can make you feel like you are on a different planet.

A great party theme to have some gambling tables as additional entertainment.

Las Vegas Acts Costume Ideas

  • Show Girls
  • Elvis Presley
  • Frank Sinatra
  • Dean Martin
  • Abbott & Costello
  • Bing Crosby
  • Chippendales
  • Cher
  • Celine Dion
  • Jersey Boys
  • Phantom of The Opera
  • Rod Stewart
  • Cirque de Soleil

Las Vegas History Costume Ideas

  • Native American Indians
  • Wild West Costumes – the original frontier town
  • Jedediah Smith Explorer who found the Las Vegas Valley
  • American Army base established n the 40s, use our American GI Costumes
  • Gangster costumes 1947 1963 Las Vegas became a hotbed for organised crime
  • Wedding Chapels dress up as a bride & groom

Las Vegas Casinos use their theme to give you costume inspiration

  • The Rio – Brazilian Carnival & Mardi Gras theme
  • Excalibur Medieval banquet served by your own wench. Jousting entertainment
  • Marina features a huge lion enclosure
  • Treasure Island Pirate Theme & Cirque de Soleil
  • Luxor Pyramid shaped casino Egyptian theme
  • New York-New York Master of Ceremonies is a drag queen, also another home for Cirque de Soleil
  • Mandalay Bay South East Asia theme Current show is The Lion King, Michael Jackson The Immortal World tour is a tribute show performed by Cirque de Soleil. It was also host to the Miss Universe contest 2010
  • Planet Hollywood Hollywood theme
  • Caesars Palace Roman theme

Western Costume Ideas

Western Costume Ideas

This party theme could also be called:

  • The Wild West
  • Cowboys & Indians

As we have already said, Western is a very popular fancy dress theme. It is also a theme where you can easily put your own costumes together, as there is a huge range of western accessories available to purchase. Most of us have a pair of jeans in our wardrobe and just be adding 1 or 2 items, you can get into the spirit of the event -there is no need to go over the top if you are not really into dressing up.

If you are hosting a wild west costume party, we would also recommend that you do purchase a few spare Stetson hats or Indian feather headbands etc. You can hand them out to any guest who dares turn up for your party without any form of costume on. As we have stated in other hubs, it is really important that as many of your guests dress up in the party theme, as this helps to create the unique atmosphere that is a fancy dress party.

The range of western accessories includes:

  • Stetson – Cowboy Hats
  • Guns & Holsters
  • Indian headpieces
  • Indian Weapons
  • Indian Jewellery
  • Cowboy Moustaches
  • Sheriff Badges
  • Bullet Belts
  • Cowboy Bandanas
  • A whole range of pink cowgirl accessories for you ladies!

Wild West Character/Costume suggestions.
Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter discovered by Buffalo Bill when his Wild West Show stopped at New Orleans in 1885 tour. Her story was dramatised in Annie Get Your Gun., the stage-show which brought Ethel Merman to fame. Contemporary pictures show her with a wide-brim hat, fringed buckskin-style outfit, long skirt and hunting rifle.

Barkeep/Bartender A stalwart image from Wild West films usually seen handing (or sliding) drinks to customers and diving for cover at the first sign of trouble. A bar-keep apron, possibly work with a waistcoat. and table-clean cloth might come in handy!

Saloon Owner/Entrepreneur. Bored with just being a saloon girl? In the entrepreneurial Old West, many Saloon bar-owners were female. Some of them offered their customers more than drink and gaming facilities, as well as somewhere to wait before the next gunfight broke out! When looking for role models for this character, one is drawn to Mae West and her performances in Klondike Annie and Belle of the Nineties

Bounty Hunter Another type of entrepreneur, the Bounty Hunter was usually a loner earning his (or her) crust by tracking down outlaws. Usually in it for the money rather than the community service, many developed their skills to eventually market themselves as detectives a more respectable profession.

Calamity Jane Born Martha Jane Cannary, Calamity was a hard-drinking woman who wore men’s clothing, used bawdy language, and was handy with a gun. She dressed exactly as a cowboy would and contemporary portraits show her in a buckskin two-piece outfit, with traditional hat. Her portrayal by Doris Day featured a similar outfit with fringing and cavalry-style kepi headgear.

Cavalryman. In many a western, a desperate situation was saved by the cavalry. In practice, keeping the peace between the native American Indians, and the white settlers who coveted their land was an impossible task – there was an average of one soldier for every 66 sq. miles of territory to be patrolled. Clothing issued to the cavalry were leftovers from the Civil War stockpiles, so might not fit that well (good excuse for an ill-fitting outfit!) Uniform consisted light blue wool trousers, dark blue heavy wool jackets with choke collars, grey flannel shirts, knee-length boots, tops turned down and hats according to troop.

Cowboy Despite the wide range of off-the-peg costumes available, many people can put

together their own cowboy outfit with the help of a few accessories. Most of the traditional western cowboys preferred plain styles and dark colours. The only relief from the sombre image was the brightly coloured kerchief worn around the neck. Chaps leather-style breeches in open or wraparound style may also be worn.

Cowgirl Technically cowgirls as such, did not exist as the real Wild West made no distinction between the sexes. Women who worked out on the range wore the same practical clothing and did the same sort of work where possible. All were equal and many developed their own ranching and droving businesses. In the world of costuming there are, of course a large number of excellent cowgirl costumes available.

Doctor Doc Holliday, one of the participants in the gunfight at the OK Corral possibly springs to mind here. Doctors on the Frontier had very little medicine and often had to improvise cures. Some took up secondary careers notably as undertakers!

Frontiersmen Probably the best known of these was Davy Crockett (King of the Wild Frontier). He was the subject of a popular Disney TV series of the 50s/60s and was famed for his coonskin hat. He lived from 1786 to 1836 and died fighting on behalf of Texas, at the battle of the Alamo

Gambler Gambling was a popular pastime in the West. Professionals who had honed their skills on the river-boats of the Mississippi and elsewhere followed the prospectors on the Gold Rush to the West to help in the redistribution of income. There are several outfits on the market but the basic outfit might consist of fancy waistcoat, frilled shirt, frock-coat or jacket over pin-stripe (or similar) trousers.

Marshall The Marshall was a court officer with functions similar to a Sheriff. The Old West produced a number of famous marshals Wild Bill Hickock & Wyatt Earp to name but two. A dark suit and hat might suffice, although if called on to fill the post of a recently deceased sheriff, pending election of his successor, he would adopt conventional western wear.

Mexican Whilst American Indians had Asiatic origins and the pioneers moved in from the Eastern States, the population of what became Mexico, New Mexico & California derived from the Spaniards searching for Eldorado in South America. They were mostly farmers, maintaining Spanish traditions (including the siesta noon-break, giving rise to the stereotypical Mexican being asleep!) Unfortunately, exploitation of peons (peasants), poverty and perceived injustice led some Mexicans to revolt and take matters into their own hands, so in addition to the standard Mexican outfit of basic jeans and shirt worn (or well-worn) under a multi-coloured or patterned poncho and the almost obligatory wide-brim sombrero (and (optional) droopy moustache for men), a Mexican Bandit might ditch the poncho in favour of some weaponry such as guns and bandoliers

Native Indian Brave (Male) The term Red Indian (or Redskins) is thought to derive from

pioneers seeing the red skins of natives who used red oxide as body decoration. Indians themselves are thought to derive from Asiatic tribes crossing the ice-link between Asia and North America. Braves were expected to show bravery and courage in hunting and battle, earning feathers as they gained respect of their peers. This is one costume where you might want to skip authenticity – an Indian brave on the warpath was truly stripped for action, wearing only a breechclout (a strip of narrow cloth which passed through the legs and over a belt, hanging down at the front and back) and leggings (two side-fringed trouser-leg-like items which attached to the same belt). Although vests were worn at other times, they were too hot to be worn in action and could be a hindrance in battle. An alternative to the Breechclout was a form of apron consisting of two squares of decorated cloth tied at the hips. There are plenty of more practical outfit for our colder climate on the market.

Native Indian (Female) The term squaw is frowned upon, being synonymous with prostitute in native language. Despite the likes of famous female Indians such as Pocahontas and Minnie Ha-Ha, females were very much second-class citizens, more like property than equals to men. On the other hand, being vital to the survival of the tribe, they were the most fiercely defended by an Indian male, aside from his headdress and hunting weapons. As above, Native Indian female costumes available on the market may put practicality over authenticity.

Pioneer Woman On the Frontier, both male and female had to be equally hardy and when it came to survival skills and defence of life and property, the frontiers woman had to be as adept as her male counterparts. For the true pioneer woman, the costume consisted of a plain high-necked long dress with bonnet and apron. Although patterned materials were used, these tended to fade after harsh and repeated washing. In the West, practicality was a consideration and for horse-riding, younger women developed skirts rather like baggy trousers or skirts with buttons.

Preacher The preacher seen in most westerns has a standardised look – a plain black suit (or long black coat) with a round, flat-brim hat, plus, of course, a dog-collar. A pair of wire-rimmed specs (or pince-nez) may also help the impression.

Prospector In the Gold Rush 49 a range of nationalities were involved in the stampede. The typical prospector had a somewhat dishevelled image battered hat (often used as a makeshift gold pan or drinking vessel), shirt, trousers (somewhat ragged), worn boots, plus prospecting equipment such as rock hammers, spades etc.

Saloon Girl In the politically correct, picturesque Wild West, the Saloon Girl was an

entertainer-cum-showgirl. In practice they were Jills-of-All-Trades who would turn their hands to anything that would earn them a living and helped separate the punter (usually) from his money. Although they were often employed by the establishment where they worked, many would not be adverse to a little individual self-enterprise, the best rising to develop their own businesses.

There are obvious similarities between Saloon Girl costumes and Can-can & Moulin Rouge outfits. Most outfits come in a range of permutations of basic costumes and accessories: The basic costume typical consists of a corset or basque, usually in lace and satin-type material with a lace-up front or back, and a separate skirt which may be frilled or rouched and gathered or split to show the leg(s). ;All-in-one outfits, although widely available on the market, are less authentic.

Sheriff Whilst Federal Marshalls were State/National Law officers, the Sheriff was the local lawman. Usually identified by his star badge, he enforced the particular unique rules of a given community and often paid the price with his life.

Wild West Showman William Frederick Cody, also known as Buffalo Bill, is probably the best known of the Western Showmen. There were, of course, less genuine (and scrupulous) showmen and snake-oil salesmen willing to part punters from their cash and exploit their credibility. The Showman dresses to impress and dazzle his audience, so a flashy or ornate vest/waistcoat under a well-tailored suit was important to create the right impression. Showmen wishing to peddle medicine or other products might wish to convey an air of authority through use of glasses, walking cane or other trappings of the rich and knowledgeable.