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Top Ten Female Fancy Dress Costumes

Updated on July 10, 2014
Party Girl profile image

Hi, I am Adele, and I have run a large fancy dress shop in Essex, England since 1998. Happy to pass on my knowledge to help others.

Ladies Costume Ideas

If you are invited to a fancy dress party it can sometimes be difficult to decide what costume to dress up in. If your host has given the evening an actual theme, it can make it a bit easier to choose a costume as your options are more limited. An actual theme also encourages people to 'think outside of the box' to get an original idea. But what if there is no costume theme and you need some ideas? Here are our top ten suggestions of female costumes for a general fancy dress party. We know that some of these you may not agree with. If you want to add in your favourite generic (as opposed to character) costume, why not send us a comment? These outfit suggestions favour the 'Goodie'/Heroine approach. For those who want to be wicked for once (in both ways), try this hub link:

Props n Frocks Fancy Dress has been established since 1998 and have been providing great fancy dress costumes and accessories since then either from our shop, based in Essex and on line. We also provide FREE costume and theme information on all fancy dress themes. If you need any help with anything to do with fancy dress, contact Props n Frocks - THE fancy dress experts...

Nun Costume
Nun Costume
Saloon Girl
Saloon Girl
Green Fairy
Green Fairy
Medieval Costume
Medieval Costume

1950s Female
Every so often an era starts coming back into fashion. Costumes for 1950s females can be found under a variety of names, such as Rocker, Be-Bopper, Teddy Girl and 50s Housewife. The costume usually consists of a full circular or ‘poodle’ skirt, either plain, spotted, large floral patterns or with motifs such as cats or poodles (hence the name). The skirt is worn with a layered net petticoat underneath to ‘puff’ it out. A boat neck top and waspie belt will usually complete the outfit, although you can always accessorise with 1950s style glasses and jewellery. The other look for the 1950s female is the pin-up type, consisting of pencil-skirt and tight fitting jumper or top. The skirt could be substituted for pedal pushers or Capri pants. The 1978 film ‘Grease’ is a good source of reference, although being set in America, it does naturally have an American look to the outfits.

1960s Female

The 1960s saw Britain making its mark in the world's of Fashion (and Music) and thgis era may become more popular as we reach its fiftieth anniversary: The Teddy Boy/Girl styles of the late 50s/early Sixties transformed into the gang cultures of the Mods (duffle coats, smart suits, scooters) and Rockers (T-shirts and biker-wear). On the wide stage, the mod-style fashions developed geometric-inspired designs - the famous Mary Quant black/white quarter mini dress, for example- and Quant also helped popularise the mini-skirt, which became the focal point of the Dolly Bird look: Aside from the skirt, with legs now on show, tights - some plain, some multi-coloured- and ankle or knee-length boots became part of the ensemble. The 'look' also involved shorter hairstyles and colourful make-up, which usually centred around the eyes - especially using the different types of false eyelashes popularised by Twiggy and the new generation of models. Although military-style jackets became popular with males (helped by the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album cover), females tended to work with variations on the mini dress/skirt until the more bohemian, longer style fashions associated with the hippy era of the late Sixties became more mainstream.

1970s Female
The 1970s female comes in a range of guises. The start of the decade saw the mini versus maxi dress conflict plus the tail-end of the hippy generation. This was followed by the glitz of Glam Rock; the Laura Ashley country girl look; the disco and the punk eras. The options might seem overwhelming, but when choosing a costume to represent the 1970s, the emphasis is for you to be comfortable in your selection. So whether you go for the bell bottom trousers and crop top look, the Abba style jumpsuit, the disco diva or the dark punk style, the choice is yours.

1980s Female

By the Eighties, there were differing fashion trends developing, and women were beginning to become more independent in their style choices. One trend associated with the era was increased use of sports clothing in the wider field of leisure wear, especially with the enthusiasm for aerobics. At the other end of the scale, the trends towards females in male-style suits, power dressing and 'big hair' which came to a peak in the Nineties began to develop.

Tinkerbell (or Tinker Bell) may be the classic green fairy costume, but there are a wide range of options for this generic character. Most outfits will usually comprise a short or knee length dress, with fairy wings and wand. Add a touch of glitter, jewellery, flowers, ribbons or a tiara to customise your outfit. With Tinker Bell getting her own film series, variations on the 'standard' fairy such as the Pirate Fairy are being seen, and with the use of different wing-styles and appropriate wigs and make-up various 'cross-over' styles such as the Spider Fairy or Butterfly Fairy can be created. Fairies do not have to be pretty and cute, and there are also a number of wicked (or 'distressed' eg punk) fairies on the market. Wings may be part of an existing costume or you might have a suitable dress that you wish to accessorise. Just remember, big is not necessarily beautiful in this context. Think, about the venue before selecting your wings - you don’t want to have to spend the night moving them out of the way of other party-goers.

The Flapper or Charleston girl is often partnered with a Gangster for 1920s or general fancy dress parties. The style of the era has always been popular, but the recent remake of 'The Great Gatsby' has stimulated further interest. Although there are a number of different coloured dresses on the market, most females tends to gravitate towards black, white, purple or red. Fringed dresses are particularly important for some, whilst others prefer the hanky-hem look, with the dropped waistline. Feathered headdresses tend to be the main head wear for evening events, although cloche hats were also worn. Other essentials are the feather boa and cigarette holder. Take a look at our great range of 1920s ladies costumes

Medieval Lady
The costumes for Medieval Ladies come in a variety of styles and colours. The American market will often label costumes as ‘Renaissance;, which can cover anything from the Dark Ages (the time associated with King Arthur and his knights) through to the end of the Tudors. For the British client, medieval costumes will also incorporate Norman and Saxon times. The headdress of each period during the Middle Ages can be very distinctive, and helps to denote particular eras, whilst the dresses themselves did not change radically.

Moulin Rouge
At one stage this costume tended to be known as the can-can dancer, but with the arrival in 2001 of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge film, most requests now tend to focus on costumes inspired by the Moulin Rouge movie, which drew its design inspirations from a wider range of influences, rather than only can-can dancers. The silver and black outfit initially worn by Satine in the film is more a cross between a Las Vegas showgirl and a burlesque performer. Although there are a variety of Moulin Rouge costumes in all sorts of colours, the most popular ones tend to be those based on a red and black colour scheme.

70s Ladies Costume
70s Ladies Costume
50's Ladies Costume
50's Ladies Costume
Snow White Costume
Snow White Costume

This is a timeless classic, easy to wear and suitable for any age. Although listed as a female generic costume, thanks to the 1990 film Nuns on the Run, starring Robbie Coltrane and Eric Idle, a nun’s habit is one costume that can often be worn by males. 'The Sound of Music' is a more conventional inspiration for wearing the costume, although these days 'Call the Midwife' also features as an excuse. The traditional black robe is accompanied by a white coif and wimple/headdress, which is often worn with a black veil. Around the neck is a silver cross strung from a black cord.

Pirate Girl
Female pirates come in two distinct guises. Firstly there is the skirt, shirt and waistcoat approach and secondly the cabin boy style of piratical coat, shirt, and breeches. Many have drawn their inspiration from Penelope Cruz's Angelica Teach character from 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides'. Sometimes the two styles can be combined depending upon the look you want to create. Other essential items are the sword/cutlass or pistol and the hat. Additional items include piratical leg wear such as boots, scarves, and jewellery.

From standard fairy tale to Disney-style, there are a whole host of princesses on the market. Most will consist of a long dress, and there are some colours which are specifically tied to particular ones. Cinderella is traditionally blue, whilst the Disney version of Snow White which consists of yellow skirt, blue top, red/blue sleeves and white colour is the immediate look one associates with this character. Disney is also responsible for taking several classic fairy tales and creating a look/colour to go with that character. A little quiz for you. Can you name all the Disney princesses, and which colour outfit goes with whom?

Saloon Girl
When it comes to Wild West parties most males might choose the easy option of a cowboy, but many females prefer to go for a more glamorous look than the cowgirl. This is why the saloon girl is such a popular costume. The older party-goer might prefer to be a Bordello Madame in the style of actress Mae West, whilst younger females may go for the traditional short skirt with lace edged train, available in a range of colours and sizes. The new enthusiasm for Burlesque fashions has increased the number of basque and corset-based outfits on the market has widened the opportunities for you to mix and match to get the look you want.

Something Wicked...

A reminder that if these suggestions are too cutesy and you want something more wicked (in both ways), the flipside hub link is: In the meantime, recent years have also seen an increase in the number of horror-style outfits. Obviously a wider selection of costume suggestions in this field can be found in our Halloween-based hubs, but certain styles, such as the Zombie or 'fractured fairy-tale' outfits (Little Dead Riding Hood, Ghouldilocks) can be used all year round and can be worth searching out

Pirate Costume
Pirate Costume

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Which of our top 10 ladies costumes would you wear to a fancy dress party?

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Would you purchase a fancy dress costume on line?

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Why would you not purchase a costume on line?

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Manic Mime Costume
Manic Mime Costume

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    • profile image

      Female Fancy Dress Costumes 

      7 years ago

      I love the hub, really informative and links to a lot of brilliant sites.


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