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. It can 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 fancy
dress party or in an artistic theatrical performance.
Theatrical costumes, in combination with other aspects,
serve to portray performers' age, gender role, profession,
social class, personality, and suchlike. Sometimes theatrical
costumes literally mimic what the costume designer thinks
the character would wear if the character actually existed.
On the other hand, often stylized theatrical costumes can
exaggerate some aspect of a character.
National costume or regional
costume can express local (or exiled) identity and emphasise
The wearing of costumes has become an important part
of Mardi Gras and Halloween celebrations, and (to a lesser
extent) people may also wear costumes in conjunction with
other holiday celebrations, such as Christmas and Easter.
Mardi Gras costumes are usually jesters and other fantasy
characters, while Halloween costumes traditionally take
the form of supernatural creatures such as ghosts, vampires,
and angels. Christmas and Easter costumes typically portray
mythical holiday characters, such as Santa Claus or the
Easter Bunny, and costumes may serve to portray various
other character themes during secular holidays, such as
an Uncle Sam costume worn on the 4th of July for example.
Some people wear costumes for erotic purposes. Most people
consider this harmless fun, but some regard this behavior
as a form of fetishism. Some say it is both.
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