Halloween may be the biggest holiday for people to dress up in costumes but it is not the only one. There have been different costumes created for almost every major holiday. Any costume store on the web has a holiday costume section, even those that title themselves a Halloween superstores or express. No matter what holiday, we see a similar pattern between men and women costumes.
St. Patrick’s Day
Technically this is a holiday celebrating Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. In reality, it is a day when everybody thinks they are part Irish, dresses in green and drinks way too much alcohol. While these costumes can vary drastically in their construction, they all must have a lot of green fabric. Men costumes tend to focus on either drinking or leprechauns. Large goofy hats are a popular accessory, as well as the green bow-tie. The only extra skin a man’s costume might reveal is a bit of their bicep or perhaps the calves. Either way, it is little more than wearing a tight t-shirt or baggy shorts. For women, the majority of these costumes seem to favor the super short skirt and stocking look. Although the shirts come in all different shapes and sizes, few go above the bust line and jackets are never big enough to be closed all the way. Even the majority of the hats have been shrunk down in size. These hats could probably be worn by real leprechauns, but so could most of the other pieces.
Easter is another one of those fun holiday that has its origins in a large religious holiday but has been transformed into a spectacular commercial celebration. The most recognizable mascot for this holiday is the Easter Bunny. A large rabbit that lays chocolate eggs for kids to find. What’s there not to love?
This comparison was tougher than the others. Usually I use Google Image to search (“title” costume) and hundreds of images pop up. From there I choose the ones that are sold in several stores. However for this “Easter Bunny Costume” search, I also got lots of “Playboy Bunny” costume results. Those are obviously not a fair comparison, since they are not related to the holiday but an Adult magazine. Even taking this into consideration there is a clear difference between men and women Easter Bunny costumes.
Men once again get the full rabbit suit. Most of these costumes have a hug rabbit head worn on top, but if the head is exposed, the huge rabbit nose and whiskers on their faces does a good job of hiding their identity. We have no problem recognizing who would be wearing a woman’s Easter Rabbit costume. Most of these outfits don’t cover a lot and the ones that do are so tight it doesn’t matter anyway. Rather than being given a large rabbit hea, women get dainty headbands with rabbit ears on top. The recognizable rabbit nose is rarely used to cover up the models face, who is wearing the costume.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for the things that we have in our life. With its roots in celebrating a bountiful harvest, a lot of the real history has been lost over time, a better description might be sanitized over the years. When people think of Thanksgiving, images of Pilgrim settlers being helped by Native American Indians is what pops into their mind.
The pilgrims envisioned for Thanksgiving are the settlers of the Plymouth Colony. This group fled England to North America in order to preserve their cultural identity and pursue religious freedom. The men costumes stick pretty close to what we envision as the pilgrims who worked hard to start a settlement in untamed lands while upholding their conservative religious beliefs. The fabric looks cheap, the belt ornamental, and the hats are flimsy but the appearance matches. Women have a 50/50 chance of finding a similarly accurate representation. About half the costumes available are long black dresses to respect their modesty, long aprons for their work in the household, and of course the classic bonnet. The other costume would probably get them a huge scarlet A it they wore them in public. Sure they have the classic bonnet and buckled shoes, but beyond that there's not much a pilgrim woman would wear. These outfits have more skin showing on the legs than the “real” outfits have all together, that is not even counting the exposed arms and bust line.
The “traditional” Native American Indian clothing may have been more revealing than the pilgrims, but even these costumes have a noticeable different approach when designing outfits for men and women. The men get to show off their well developed arms but the rest of of their bodies are covered. The long sleeve shirt and pants are usually decorated with fringes. While the pilgrims get a tall buckled hat, the Indians get headbands with a feather sticking out. Female Indian costumes prefer to use the flowing fringes to cover the majority of their bodies, rather than an actual piece of solid fabric. Obviously a long skirt or pants would be prohibitive if you are living outside in the rugged elements.
Christmas may have started as a Christian holiday but it has morphed into a Winter Holiday Season, filled with magical images and rich stories.
Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus
For an adult male Santa Claus costume, there are two choices; light red or dark red. This is not surprising since the image of Santa has been constant for decades. Women have a lot more options. While Mrs. Clause does not have a consistent look, some costumes are closer to what we would expect than others. There are a couple options that have her wearing a long thick dress, that would keep her warm in the North Pole. She has an apron on, because we all know Santa loves to eat. Other costumes are the standard knee high red dress, with white fluffy trim to create a feminine Santa suit that matches Mr. Claus. However, there are dozens of different “sexy” Mrs. Claus outfits. These outfits drastically outnumber the other options. The high boots or stockings would not be enough to keep Mrs. Claus’ legs warm in those short shirts. Sometimes the hat looks like it is made of more material than the tops. Perhaps the tops are so revealing because Santa is a fan of milk. (I apologize, but that joke was just sitting there.)
Elves are Santa’s little helpers but I think these costumes interpreted that saying in different ways. The men have thick full body outfits. Their pants go all the way down to their curly toed elf shoes, their long sleeve shirts are buttoned all the way up to their necks and rest is covered with a jester’s collar. The traditional elf hat is worn with pride. Male elves are obviously ready and excited to build toys through the long cold winter. Female elf costumes keep the red and green colors and elf hat but then go off in a very different direction. Their skirts go about as low down as a male elf’s shirt. Most of the time they are not even given stereotypical elf shoes. Instead they get high heels, which I guess could act as snow cleats. There is no need for the jester color since their tops never go much higher than the bust line.
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer, and Vixen!
"On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!”
That’s right, I know all of Santa’s reindeer names. Even if you didn’t know their names, we all know who they are. There is a debate as to whether they were all males or females. (Science makes them female, tradition makes them male.) However, when costumes are made there is little doubt to which ones are male or female. Men get full body fake fur suits, with plenty of room to grow after gorging on holiday food. The ears and antlers are worn like a cap. The only skin showing might be their hands and the parts of their face not covered by a nose. Women get a short, tight fitting, sleeveless dress with the pattern of reindeer fur. More often than not they are given a slim headband with the ears and antlers. Of course, the collar is a must.
Snowman / Snow Woman
Snowmen have been a part of Christmas well before Frosty the Snowman ever came on the scene. It makes sense that Snowman costumes would be created for the Winter holiday season. The costumes designed for men make them look like a huge stuffed Snowman. If they didn’t move you wouldn’t be able to tell if there was a person inside or not. A snow woman costume is tamed compare to other costumes but again we see the short sleeveless dress style so common in women’s costume. The snow woman dresses are usually fluffier than other female characters but it is basically a white dress with three large buttons on the front. The typical scarf and hat are included for added details.
The costumes above were displayed multiple times in google image search results. These are the sites that I went to for the images. If you know of an image that belongs to a different site please let me know in the comment section below and I will make sure to give appropriate credit.