What Kids Today Missed From Groovy Era Halloween Costumes

Fads | October 30, 2021

Bat Girl, St. Ann or Leia (?) and Wonder Woman. (Larry Racioppo, NYPL)

Halloween costumes of the Groovy Era lacked the elaborate intricacy of contemporary times. However, while they fell short on the complexity like the era they hail from, they made up in hilarious antiquity. The Halloween costumes of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s rode a beautiful wave of ignorance, completely devoid of embarrassment or self-awareness.

Halloween’s simpler times, in hindsight, offered comedy on many levels. In some cases, the poor quality of masks and costumes instantly date them in a warm and fuzzy nostalgic way. Here’s a trip down memory lane of groovy Halloween costumes ranging from ridiculous to downright terrible.

Time waits for no man. Unless that man is Chuck Norris. (flashbak)

The Plastic Mask Era

Sure, cell phone technology has come leaps and bounds from the milk carton size mobile phones of the ‘80s. But don’t sleep on the improvements made to Halloween masks in the past few decades either. This Chuck Norris mask looks more like a pedophile going to the gym than Walker, Texas Ranger. The masks were also made with the flimsiest of plastics that limited things like the ability to see or breathe. Thankfully, none of that mattered because CANDY!

Not sure what to be? Can't go wrong with a Star Wars mashup.

The Staples

From “The Tin Man” to Luke and Leia of Star Wars, kids of the Groovy Era naturally gravitated to iconic pop culture figures of their era. As much as things change, they also stay the same. Obviously, the Marvel movies have made superheroes more popular than ever but the nerd culture of godly savior goes back decades. Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and Chuck Norris all started in the groovy era. Assuredly, mothers today could still find some old photos in their $5.99 Cinderella costume from K-Mart.

The classic last minute Ghost costume. (Larry Racioppo, NYPL)

The No Costumes In My Size Kid

In the Groovy Era, the one size fits all reigned supreme. So if you were an abnormally large child that meant mom was freestyling your costume from whatever she could scrounge from around the house. The most common, somewhat tragically, DIY costume of yesteryear was, of course, the ghost. Every mom could find a sheet somewhere and cut out two eye holes. In this particularly grim and clearly last minute job, a veil and some string did the job. No first prize in this kid’s future but at least he still got candy.

Who needs to breathe or see when there's CANDY! (flashbak)

The “What Are You?” Costumes

Since the costumes of the day usually cost you less than $10, that usually meant they were made for about $.50. That’s how you ended up with a Muhammed Ali that looks more like a character from the Chinese theatre. Why does it have lipstick and mascara on its eyebrows? Ali was the heavyweight Champion of the world, not a drag queen from San Francisco. How about the one on the right? Take a guess at what that’s supposed to be: Hulk Hogan or a chipmunk transitioning into a teenage mutant ninja turtle? No, that’s supposed to be Mr. Potato Head...

Blind, asphyxiated, and a fire hazard, the costume of the Groovy Era were just better!

Quality Items

Let’s play another round. Who do you suppose this mask is supposed to be? A serial killer or Tom Cruise? No, that's Ringo Starr! You’ll note the “deluxe quality” moniker and obviously, it shows in such a quality item. The extra cost to make probably went into ensuring it was “flame retardant.” Kids today might question why your mask would need to protect you from flames. Were they intended to fight a fire back in the ‘70s?

Nope, it was in case your costume burst into flame from standing too close to a jack-o-lantern. “It’s what made a man a man!” Back then the New York Times wrote an article, detailing to parents how they could avoid their children bursting into flame:

"Many homemade costumes can be treated against bursting into flames by dipping or spraying them with a Solution of seven ounces of borax and three ounces of boric acid in two quarts of hot water, The treatment must be repeated after each washing." It’s the ‘70s baby, yeah!

Tags: Halloween | Halloween costumes

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Linda Speckhals


When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.