14 Halloween Costumes Inspired By '50s Pop Culture

Circle skirts, sock hops, and rock 'n' roll. After The Great Depression and World War II, the 1950s seem like a fun-loving and quiet decade in American history.

This period was all about a return to traditional gender roles (via American History), a rise in consumerism, the integration of television, and the continual political tensions caused by the Cold War (per Khan Academy). The '50s are also marked by the beginning of the civil rights movement, reflecting the increasing social awareness of racial issues in America.

Changes in technology and media also make this an interesting decade for pop culture, with television and Hollywood films competing for audience attention and new, rebellious music styles becoming popular with the youth. Film classics like "Rebel Without a Cause," "Sunset Boulevard," and "Vertigo" premiered, while timeless Disney movies like "Cinderella" and "Lady and the Tramp" were first released (per Frame Trek).

With this in mind, this period of culture offers so much material for themed Halloween costumes. Read on to find your newest spooky season inspiration!

'50s housewife

A go-to look for a '50s-inspired Halloween costume is the 1950s housewife. Because this period of American history emphasized family values and idealized a stay-at-home, domestic wife (per PBS), the housewife is heavily associated with the '50s.

There are many premade '50s housewife costumes you can purchase, such as the one featured above, but you can also DIY this costume by throwing a cutesy apron over a patterned shirtwaist dress (per Recollections). If you want a little bit of a creepy twist for Halloween, try adding zombie makeup or go with the "killer housewife" look.

Roller-skating carhop

The roller-skating carhop is another great Halloween pick for those interested in 1950s style. The carhop server, not actually always roller-skating, became popular with the general rise of cars in the early twentieth century and peaked during this decade (per CNN).

Carhop costumes can be bought premade, such as this one from Etsy, but you can also DIY one with a '50s-inspired circle shirt, a button-up blouse, a diner-style apron, and a plastic tray (per Family Education). Roller skates, of course, are optional, but super fun.

Sock hop dancer

The sock hop dancer is another classic '50s look to consider for your Halloween costume. Although sock hops originated in the '40s as a wartime fundraising method, they became popular in the '50s as a school function (per Wide Open Country).

Poodle skirts are the most common clothing item associated with this costume, but if you're DIYing it then any full, '50s-style circle skirt will do (per Vintage Dancer). Button-up blouses, lace socks, and saddle shoes will fill out the rest of the outfit. There's also room to add makeup and gore to this costume if you're looking for something cute by creepy.

Magic 8-Ball

While the magic 8-ball is common in today's culture, the children's toy has roots in the '40s and '50s (per Parade). In fact, it was one of the most popular toys of the '50s, making it a great pop culture-inspired costume (via Retro Waste).

The above 8-ball costume can be purchased online, or you can DIY the look. All you need is a black outfit, some dark blue felt or construction paper, and something to construct the 8-ball label out of. Many women also use this as a pregnancy costume, as a baby bump serves as a great 8-ball.


Moving into media-inspired looks, the Greaser is a great '50s costume suitable for any gender. While you might associate greasers with the musical and film "Grease," this motorcycle-inspired fashion was present in the '50s media through films like "The Wild One" and "Rebel Without a Cause" (via Retro Waste)

Greaser costumes can be bought online, but you can easily assemble one yourself. A Sandy Olsson greaser look like the one above requires black pants or leggings, an off-the-shoulder black blouse, and red heels and lipstick. This also makes for a great couple's costume.

Rydell High cheerleader

If you're a "Grease" fan but aren't feeling the greaser look, then the Rydell High cheerleader costume might suit you better. This costume, directly inspired by Olivia Newton-John's character Sandy Olsson, combines the circle-skirt look of the '50s with a "Grease" twist.

If you're wanting to DIY a costume, then you could probably get away with using a plain red circle shirt, some pompoms, and a white shirt with some attached red felt (per Celebrations). Sandy's red bow and ponytail will also be a cute final touch.

'50s inspired Minnie Mouse

1955 marked the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim, California, making Disney an all-around notable part of '50s pop culture (per Geneology Bank). Because of this, a Minnie Mouse costume with a '50s twist would make for a perfect pop culture-influenced Halloween costume.

Color Me Courtney has a great list of items for a Mousekeeter-inspired couples version of this costume, but the basics you need for this Minnie Mouse look are a polka-dotted red and black '50s dress and a pair of mouse ears. From there, you have lots of room to customize your own outfit!

Lucille Ball from 'I Love Lucy'

Not only was it consistently one of the most popular TV programs throughout the '50s (per Retro Waste), but "I Love Lucy" has maintained its popularity into modernity. Because of this, Lucille Ball's famous Lucy character is a top pick for pop culture-inspired '50s costumes.

Many versions of this costume are available online, and, though it might be similar to the aforementioned housewife look, it's set apart from other outfits by Lucy's polka-dotted dress and red updo. These are the main things you'd need if you're looking to recreate this costume on your own.

Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke

Another television character that was well-known in the '50s was Miss Kitty from "Gunsmoke" (per Wide Open Country), one of the most popular series throughout the decade. Because this show was a Western, Miss Kitty's fashion isn't necessarily as '50s as some of the other mentioned looks, but it's still reminiscent of this period's pop culture.

Throughout "Gunsmoke," Miss Kitty wears many beautiful period dresses (per MeTV), but this look is inspired by the saloon girl outfits she'd sometimes wear as the owner of the show's Long Branch Saloon.


While the "Godzilla" franchise has stretched into the modern day, the film was originally released in the '50s. The "Americanized" version of "Godzilla" premiered in 1956, two years after the movie's initial release in Japan (per Criterion). Now, it's regarded as one of the best horror movies of its time (per Rotten Tomatoes), making it a solid choice for a Halloween costume.

If you're looking for a premade costume, you can find inflatable ones like the one above online. If you're wanting to DIY something, then check out the cardboard box and paper-mâché tutorial from Rusty Avocados

Creature from Creature from the Black Lagoon

Another creature feature from the '50s that would make a great Halloween costume is the creature from "Creature from the Black Lagoon." This movie is significant in the complexity of the Gill Man's costume, a full-body look that completely buried the human beneath in aquatic features and gills (per Den of Geek), and in the film's initial release in 3D, a fad of the early '50s (per TV Technology).

To achieve this Halloween costume, you can either purchase a mask and spandex suit online or put your FX skills to the test with a YouTube makeup tutorial.

Elvis Presley

Musicians are another notable part of 1950s pop culture, with perhaps the most known of these stars being Elvis Presley (per Retro Waste). On this topic, it's important to acknowledge that music styles of this decade, rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues specifically, were largely pioneered by Black artists like Little Richard and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, but are typically associated with white artists (per The People History and MIC).

With leather jacket, striped shirt, and a pompadour, Presley's "Jailhouse Rock" outfit is probably one of the most '50s-associated Halloween costumes you can buy online or recreate at home.

Audrey Hepburn

The famous British actress Audrey Hepburn made her big break in America with the 1953 film "Roman Holiday," a performance she went on to earn a Oscar for (per IMDb). While her most known film "Breakfast at Tiffany's" wouldn't release until 1961, she was still a well-known actress of the '50s, making her a great Halloween costume pick.

Check out Etsy to buy costume pieces of Hepburn's notable "Roman Holiday" outfit, or recreate it yourself with a button-up blouse, tan skirt, and wide belt. Then, all you'll need is Hepburn's iconic updo.

Marilyn Monroe

A 1950s Halloween costume list wouldn't be complete without the mention of Marilyn Monroe. While this American icon began her acting career in the '40s, she was undoubtedly a staple of '50s pop culture, with many of her most popular films releasing during this decade (per Business Insider).

The star's ivory-colored halter dress from "The Seven Year Itch" is a great pick for a Monroe Halloween costume, but you could also go with her bright pink gown and gloves from "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" or her gold-accented "birthday dress" to mix it up a little (per Business Insider).