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Article: Halloween Costumes, Jane Austen Style!

Catherine Morland reading in Northanger Abbey

Halloween Costumes, Jane Austen Style!

Catherine Morland Reading in Northanger abbey

Though our summer staggered on well into September, Autumn has finally arrived here in Jane Austen’s England. It’s time to put away the summer dresses, the shorts and t-shirts, and haul out the cosy jumpers - it’s time get your Halloween costume together. You might be thinking, “How can Jane Austen be spooky?” Anything can be spooky if you try hard enough. Here’s a few ideas for Jane Austen Halloween Costumes to get you started.  


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Did you buy a costume for the Jane Austen Festival that is likely to sit languishing in your cupboard? Been to a ball, but not sure what to do with the gown that’s gathering dust? Make it into a Jane Austen Halloween Costume! Get the fake blood and face paint out and get to recreating the cover of Seth Grahame-Smith’s controversial Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. If you don’t want to get all blood and guts with your nice clothes, just strap a prop weapon to your outfit and you’re Elizabeth Bennet, zombie hunter. 


Lady Catherine de Bourgh


Your costume doesn’t have to be gory to inspire terror. Lady Catherine de Bourgh is a terrifying looming presence in Pride and Prejudice, casting judgement on those around her and threatening to ruin Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy’s chances at happily ever after. There are many different portrayals of Lady de Bourgh, but I think the most visually striking one is from the 2005 film. Judy Dench looks striking and imposing with her enormous hair - they say it’s full of secrets. This one might involve a bit of investment in the right wig (or several cans of hairspray), but with a bit of determination and a good scowl, this is the perfect scary Halloween Costume. 

Dame Judi Dench as Lady Catherine De Bourgh

Catherine Morland’s Gothic Delusions

Northanger Abbey is easily the most Halloween-y of Jane Austen’s novels. The novel, a satirical look at the gothic tradition, follows young Catherine Morland, whose love of a good Gothic novel  sends her down the path of imagining the world around her is much more sinister than it really is. For this costume I’d start by just dressing up as a precocious young Regency woman, and then add some other touches - perhaps pin some loose leafs of gothic novels to your skirts, or muss up your hair to look more frantic. This one is really all in the attitude; don’t forget to ask everyone at the Halloween party what they think the host is hiding in the guest bedroom…



Mr Collins 

Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice 2005

This one requires little explanation. Mr Collins gives me the willies! Always lurking around the corner, threatening to pounce on anyone who will listen to him sing the praises of Lady de Bourgh (Collins and de Bourgh together could make a great group costume for a pair looking to team up!). Putting together the bare bones of the costume for this one shouldn’t be too complicated, especially if you already dabble in Regency costuming. Once again, this one is more about how you carry yourself than the outfit itself. You really have to embrace being a little seedy, extremely proud, and completely shameless. 


Hopefully this has provided a few ideas of how to put together a solid Jane Austen Halloween Costume that combines Regency style with a touch of the spooky. We’d love to hear what you’re dressing up as in the comments. Happy Halloween! 

Ellen White is editor of the Jane Austen Centre blog. She would love to hear from you! Check out our Submission Guidelines and get in touch. 

 

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