We are often asked for a character to dress up as, for a fancy dress party.
There are two types of fancy dress costumes, generic ones and specific named characters. The first are usually associated with general types of themes, such as pirates, western, the various twentieth century decades such as Gangsters & Hippies etc., where the emphasis is on individuals turning up in similar costumes to add atmosphere to an event. Character Costumes on the other hand are designed so that they should be immediately recognisable, whether its a film characters such as Jack Sparrow or The Mad Hatter, or cartoon personality such as Bart Simpson.Interest in a particular costume will vary from month to month. Much will depend upon what is in the media. Sometimes a particular news story can generate interest in a specific character. This could be a celebrity dressing up; a campaigner wanting to get their point across; or a specific costume highlighted at a sporting event. Anything can capture the public imagination, and half the challenge is being able to obtain the costume when you want it..
Many character costumes are subject to licensing laws (although not all of them are). This means that only one official costume may be available for a given character. Some companies may choose to ‘enhance’ the official costume, perhaps providing additional accessories to give added value to the core product. Licenses can take some time to obtain, and often, Licensed costumes are not around in time for the release of a new film and can literally ‘miss the boat’ as some costumes only have a limited shelf life.
The licensing of these costumes does limit what you will find legally available to purchase, and causes fancy dress suppliers numerous problems, quality, sizing and price being the key ones. Companies that sell, or advertise ‘fakes’ are liable to be prosecuted in the courts.
It is very difficult to advise a customer that a particular character costume is available only in a standard male size (about a chest 42/44″) if they need a different size. This is why you will find ‘copies’ or a costume that is similar on the market, purely to allow people to have a choice of a wider sizing range.
The companies who ‘own’ the costume license pay a substantial price for the privilege to produce a particular character costume for general sale. This initial cost is recouped by these companies charging more money for these ‘licensed’ products. A Licensed character costume will generally cost more than a generic costume.
Although, this is now improving there is a general feeling that these costumes do cost far more than a generic costume, yet the quality does not always represent the additional cost.
To make your life a bit easier, we have split this costume category into men’s, women’s and children’s, and in some instances they will split down even further. There may be some overlap in certain areas between categories but this is intentional to help to make your costume choice easier.
So take a look at the main categories (on the left) and find your perfect character costume.