Halloween Costume Ideas Inspired by Legendary Dames of TV and Film-Part 1

Halloween dress up is just a few weeks away, the time of year when you can unleash your inner fantasy girl with complete abandon.  Need inspiration? There is no better source than Hollywood when it comes to bigger than life dames, from Ingénue to Femme Fatale and everything in between. Not sure where to begin? There are tons of online blogs, Pinterest pages and websites dedicated to movie and television  idols. Just do a search for greatest female characters or female stars of the silver screen. Once you have found your muse the next step is getting the look.  In this two part blog I’m going to pick 5 different leading lady character types. For each one I’ll list two legendary actresses and talk costume. So let’s get started.

1. The Ingénue She is young, innocent and spirited. Irresistible to all. Two top character examples of the Ingénue are…

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961. Holly’s chic, café society look is quite easy to capture.  Start with a simple little black dress, sheath style and fitted. Add a multi strand pearl necklace and long black gloves. Finish with nude stockings and black pumps. Holly’s signature hairstyle is a French twist or updo with lots of volume. Go heavy on the eyeliner. Other accessories to consider would be a long cigarette holder and a little black purse.


Audrey Hepburn as Holly Go Lightly

Audrey Hepburn as Holly Go Lightly

Publicity still from Breakfast at Tiffany’s- Image source Vintage Movie Star Photos

Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells) from TV show Gilligan’s Island in the mid 1960s. Mary Ann embodies wholesome. Her look is fresh as a daisy and easy to emulate. Short, shorts (cut off jeans are fine) and a cropped sun top or camp shirt, tied up under the bust. Handkerchief prints or gingham work for her girl next door look .   Wear hair in side pony tails with lots of tease on top. Pony tails should be tied with white ribbon bows. If you really want to go all out, do a beach bunny spray tan. Complete the outfit with classic white Keds sneakers.

Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Summers

Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Summers

Dawn Wells publicity photo-Image source Retrocrush

2. The Femme Fatale  Seductive, mysterious and fraught with danger. She manipulates men to do her bidding and plays with their heart, often with tragic consequences. Two iconic Femme Fatale characters are….

Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwick) Double Indemnity,1944. Stanwick plays a bombshell housewife with dark ambitions.  This housewife prefers tight fitting sweaters with a high neckline, NO exposed décolleté, that’s important. Sweater should be a soft pastel or cream color. A simple form fitting high waisted black skirt comes next, something that accents the derriere. Belt cinched below the waistline.  Black  pumps, nude stockings  and dark sunglasses. It’s all about looking proper with a seductive twist. Hair for this look should be golden blonde in a shoulder length 40s style with bangs. Stanwyck wore a wig in the film and you can find similar style wigs online.

Barbara Stanywyck as Phillis Dietrichson-Double Indemnity

Barbara Stanywyck as Phillis Dietrichson-Double Indemnity

 Barbara Stanwyck in Double Idemnity-Img source Gallery Hip 

Gilda (Rita Hayworth) 1946 . Rita plays the provocative sex goddess who taunts and teases every man around her.  Slinky, shoulder baring, hour glass dress in satin fabric, slit to the upper thigh.   Long black gloves, glittery rhinestone necklace and strappy black heels.  Arched eyebrows and crimson lips for makeup and the crowning glory…  waves of long red hair parted to the side.

Rita Hayworth as Gilda

Rita Hayworth as Gilda

 3. TV Moms.    From the wholesome Jean Cleaver to the sex bomb Peg Bundy in Married with Children, to the wild,wacky Edina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous,   sitcom Moms are an iconic figure in television history. So lots of costume ideas to choose from.  Here are two of my favorites.

Lucy Arnez (Lucille Ball) TV sitcom I love Lucy, 1950s.  Quirky and endearing Lucy was always getting herself in and out of trouble. Her fiery red hair is trademark and a must if you want to do this costume justice. Lucy is known for full skirt dresses with polka dots or check prints and white collars but any 50s full skirt cotton dress will do as long as you wear a petticoat and apron.

Lucy photo lucilleball4copy.jpg


Img source Photobucket

And then there’s there’s the dark comedy of Carolyn Jones, as the mom to her very strange Addams Family. Morticia  makes a great gothic Mom costume for Halloween.   Long black form fitting gown that flares toward the hem.  Deep V neckline and long sleeves. Attach panels of black chiffon or netting to the sleeves.  Wig of long black hair that parts in the middle.  Carry one red rose.

The Addams Family with mom Morticia at center

The Addams Family with mom Morticia at center

Stay tuned for part 2 in my Halloween Costume post.

Have a glamorous day!




By | 2014-10-06T11:45:08-04:00 October 6th, 2014|Fashion|2 Comments

About the Author:

Melody Fortier
Since the early 1990s I have been selling stylish, fine quality womens' vintage clothing and accessories at various venues, including the Sturbridge Textile Show and the Manhattan Vintage Clothing Show, as well as my own website Tangerine Boutique . I also love sharing my thoughts on vintage fashion on my blog A Vintage Ramble And my book The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping offers a wealth of information for people who are interested in buying, collecting and wearing vintage clothing. My background as a custom dress and hat maker led to my appreciation and love of vintage fashion. And my extensive experience as a custom clothier has given me a keen eye for spotting quality construction when sourcing my vintage inventory.


  1. Theresa Campbell
    Theresa Campbell October 22, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Jessica, so sorry you’re not feeling well. Reminds me I need to get my flu shot! I can totally relate to the “times running out” issue. I started a costume, inspired by the fab green dress Cyd Charisse wore in Singin in the Rain, and it looks likes it may get finished by Halloween next year! So now I’m also trying to come up with something last minute that won’t take a lot of effort to put together. I think the Lucy costume would be great for you or even Rita Hayworth in Gilda, because of your auburn hair. Whatever you decide, I can’t wait to see your pix 🙂 Feel better soon!

  2. Avatar
    Jessica Cangiano October 21, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Gosh, do I need posts like this. Utterly uncharacteristically for me, I haven’t nailed down my costume last year (interestingly, I was your last suggestion, the beguilingly fabulous Morticia Addams, last year) and time is quickly running out. Being under the weather with the flu right now isn’t helping, but with just ten days to, I have to put my thinking cap on and come up with something. Lucy is tempting – I’ve been compared to her simply because of my garb and red/auburn locks before, but have never intentionally copied her look. We’ll see! 🙂

    ♥ Jessica

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