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The term costume can refer to wardrobe and dress in general, or to the distinctive style of dress of a particular people, class, or period. Costume may also refer to the artistic arrangement of accessories in a picture, statue, poem, or play, appropriate to the time, place, or other circumstances represented or described, or to a particular style of clothing worn to portray the wearer as a character or type of character other than their regular persona at a social event such as a masquerade, a fancy dress party or in an artistic theatrical performance.


Major categories

Theatrical costume

-a theater art from Inida.]]

One of the more prominent places people see costumes is in theatre, film and on television. In combination with other aspects, theatrical costumes can help actors portray characters' age, gender role, profession, social class, personality, and even information about the historical period/era, geographic location and time of day, as well as the season or weather of the theatrical performance. Often, stylized theatrical costumes can exaggerate some aspect of a character; for example Harlequin and Pantaloon in the Commedia dell'Arte.

National costume

National costume or regional costume expresses local (or exiled) identity and emphasises a culture's unique attributes. It is often a source of national pride. Examples of such are a Scotsman in a kilt or a Japanese person in a kimono.

Holidays and festivals


The wearing of costumes has become an important part of such holidays and festivals as Mardi Gras and Halloween (see Halloween costume for more information), and (to a lesser extent) people may also wear costumes in conjunction with other holidays, such as Christmas and Easter. Mardi Gras costumes usually take the form of jesters and other fantasy characters, while Halloween costumes traditionally take the form of supernatural creatures such as ghosts, vampires, pop culture icons and angels. Christmas and Easter costumes typically portray mythical characters such as Santa Claus (by donning a santa suit and beard) or the Easter Bunny by putting on an animal costume. Costumes may serve to portray various other characters during secular holidays, such as an Uncle Sam costume worn on the Independence day for example.


Costumes also serve as an avenue for children to explore and roleplay. Children can dress up in various forms; for example characters from history or fiction like pirates, princesses or cowboys, common jobs like nurses or police officers, or animals such as those seen in zoos or farms.


Another very popular situation where costumes are employed are for sporting events, where people dressed as their team's representative mascot help the club or team rally round their team's cause. Animal costumes which are visually very similar to mascot costumes are also popular among the members of the furry fandom where they are referred to as fursuits.

Drawings of costumes from the past

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


A reenactor wearing a traditional Highland costume.


< French costume < Italian costuma < Mediaeval Latin costuma, ultimately < Latin consuetudo (custom); see custom, which is a doublet of costume.


  • enPR: kŏs't(j)o͞om, IPA: /ˈkɒst(j)uːm/, SAMPA: /"kQst(j)u:m/
  •  Audio (US)help, file




costume (plural costumes)

  1. A style of dress, including garments, accessories and hairstyle, especially as characteristic of a particular country, period or people.
    The dancer was wearing Highland costume.
  2. An outfit or a disguise worn as fancy dress etc.
    We wore gorilla costumes to the party.
  3. A set of clothes appropriate for a particular occasion or season.
    The bride wore a grey going-away costume.


Derived terms

Related terms


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

See also


to costume

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to costume (third-person singular simple present costumes, present participle costuming, simple past and past participle costumed)

  1. To dress or adorn with a costume or appropriate garb.


External links

  • costume in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • costume in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911




costume m. (plural costumes)

  1. A style of dress characteristic of a particular country, period or people
  2. An outfit or a disguise worn as fancy dress
  3. A set of clothes appropriate for a particular occasion or task
  4. A suit worn by a man



  1. first-person singular present indicative of costumer.
  2. third-person singular present indicative of costumer.
  3. first-person singular present subjunctive of costumer.
  4. first-person singular present subjunctive of costumer.
  5. second-person singular imperative of costumer.



costume m. (plural costumi)

  1. A custom, habit
  2. A costume
  3. A swimsuit


Derived terms




costume m. (plural costumes)

  1. (use) A custom
  2. (clothing) A costume



  • IPA: /kos.'


costume n. pl.

  1. Plural form of costum.

Simple English

is wearing the national costume of Belarus]]

The word costume is used to describe a set of clothes that someone is wearing in order to say something about their personality. Some costumes are special to particular countries or areas. These are called “National Costumes”. They are worn because people are proud of their country. Actors in a theatre wear costumes because they are pretending to be a particular person in a play or ballet. Costumes can be worn for carnivals or parties. These are often called “Fancy Dress”.


=National costume

= National costume or regional costume is worn to show that the people come from a particular country or area. Many years ago, national costume was worn every day by many groups of people. Today there are not many areas where national costume is worn daily. Usually people dress up in national costume for special celebrations or for national dancing.

Some well known examples of national costume are the kilt which is worn by people in Scotland, and the kimono worn in Japan.

Theatrical costume


When actors perform in the theatre they always wear a costume. These are the special clothes they wear in order to pretend they are a particular character in the story which they act out. They might be pretending to be any kind of person: a beggar, king, a businessman, an ancient god etc. Some theatrical costumes are very “stylized”. That means they exaggerate some aspects of the character. Examples are Harlequin and Pantaloon in the Commedia dell'arte.

Carnivals and festivals

, about 500 years ago. They are taking part in the 2006 Bristol Renaissance Faire.]]

Costumes are worn at festivals such as Mardi Gras and Halloween. They are used for fancy dress parties. People who dress up in fancy dress may be pretending to be a character from a fairy tale or a film. They may be ghosts, or vampires, or perhaps an Easter Bunny for Easter, or an Uncle Sam costume worn on the Independence day.

Children enjoy wearing costumes and pretending to be particular people or animals.

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