A memorable Halloween starts with a memorable costume. Why not make it one to remember by dressing as a woman from history who deserves to be remembered? Victorian Halloween costumes are always a part favorite because they are striking and great conversation starters. But who to choose? A lot of women from the Victorian era made great strides and led lives that we are still talking about today. And some of them did it in clothing that they became known for as well. Here are five Victorian women who had stories and wardrobes worthy of a great Victorian Halloween costume. 

Have you started planning your Halloween costume yet? Let us know who you are dressing as in the comments.

Be memorable with one of these history-inspired Victorian Halloween costumes.

Lady Herberton: Pants-wearing Victorian Bicycling Trouble Maker 

When the bicycle hit the scene, many Victorian women felt as if the skies had opened to a bright new way of life. Lady Herberton was one of these women. Not only was she all-in when it came to appearing in public without a chaperone of any kind, she was among the women who decided to enjoy time on a bike unencumbered by a skirt. She would go on to make headlines for doing so. 

What she is known for: 

-Suing a pub that refused service to her when she appeared in her bicycling bloomers following a bike ride. 

-Being a life-long advocate for women’s dress reform. She advocated against tight clothing, long skirts, high heels, and FOR pants. 

-Co-founder of the Rational Dress Society. 

Read more about Lady Herberton and the dress reform movement here.

Why it’s a fun costume:

A Victorian bicycling outfit is a costume guaranteed not to have duplicates of. It is also a great conversation starter, in addition to spreading awareness of Lady Herberton’s story. It is also warm and easy to move around in, unlike some Halloween costumes. 

Ready to design your Lady Herberton look? Start with these Victorian costumes:

Annie Oakley: Pint-sized sharpshooter with Victorian morals

Annie Oakley sure left her mark (pun intended). Her remarkable ability as a sharpshooter plus her shrewd business sensibility made her a star in her time as well as ours. 

What she is known for: 

-Becoming an award-winning sharpshooter at the age of 15.

-Being one of the biggest stars of the world-famous Buffalo Bill’s Wild Show. 

-Being a prim and proper Victorian lady of the highest moral code, despite her life as a traveling performer. 

Read more about famous female sharpshooters here.

Why it’s a fun costume: Annie always performed in a fun Victorian outfit altered to permit the movement necessary for her craft. It is highly recognizable still today and comes with some fun props, perfect for a party.

Ready to design your Annie Oakley look? Start with these Victorian costumes: 

Mattie Silks: Dueling Madam of the West


Want to get a bit saucy this Halloween? Making sure Mattie Silks is represented is a great way to do it. You will feel regal and show-stopping all at once dressed as this famous Madam. 

What she is known for: 

-Being one of the most well-known madams of the West. 

-Fighting a duel with competitor Kate Fulton, accidentally injuring the lover they were quarreling over, Cortez Thompson. 

-Ruling the Denver brothel scene. 

Read more about Mattie’s story and other madams of West here.

Why it’s a fun costume:

Mattie was well known for being impeccable about her appearance. Selecting a costume fitting of her life and reputation will be a joy. Appearing in it will make you feel like the belle of the ball. 

Ready to design your Mattie Silks look? Start with these Victorian costumes:

Alice Paul: A life dedicated to female equality

Votes for women! We only hit the 100-year mark of the 19th amendment in 2021 and I know a lot of you still want to celebrate. Appearing as Alice Paul is a great way to do it. 

What she is known for: 

-Being a leader of the US suffrage movement. 

-Enduring multiple stays in prison for her public protests in favor of the female vote. 

-Going on to lead the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment following the passage of the 19th amendment. 

Why it makes a fun costume:

What is more fun to talk about on a fall night than women’s rights leaders from the past? Combine your costume with a “Cast off the Shadows” sing-along and you’re sure to be a hit. 

Ready to design your Alice Paul look? Start with these Victorian costumes:

Florence Nightingale: Mother of Modern Nursing

Care for the plight of others is a trait to be treasured now more than ever. An appearance by Florence Nightingale is sure to be appreciated by anyone who attends your Halloween gathering. 

What she is known for: 

-Being the founder of the modern nursing movement. 

-Dedicating her life to helping others rather than what was expected of her, leading a domestic life. 

-International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday. 

Why it is a fun costume:

There are two ways to do a Florence Nightingale costume. One would be to dress in the traditional Victorian clothing she was often photographed in. Another would be wearing a Victorian nurse’s uniform. Either way, it will be a feel-good costume and a great way to spread a message about the importance of service as we start the holiday season. 

Ready to design your Florence Nightingale look? Start with these Victorian costumes:

Pioneer blouse and skirt

More Halloween fun:

10 ideas for a virtual Halloween party

Roundup: Spooky Victorian Traditions

Victorian Greeting Cards for Autumn Holidays