The term "fancy dress" is a British one that can mean multiple things. Most often, it refers to costume dress: a "fancy dress party" is what Americans call a "costume party." However, because the term originated during the Victorian era, when masquerade parties were popular, the term also refers to the proper, tuxedo-and-top-hat style common in evening wear during this time. Many men's costumes for Halloween merge these two styles
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Phantom of the Opera
Gaston Leroux's "Phantom of the Opera," as portrayed on screen and stage, always appeared in evening dress -- appropriate, as he haunted a Victorian-era opera house where fancy dress was always worn. The basis for this outfit would preferably be a tuxedo, but it could also be a black suit worn with a white shirt, bow tie and black shoes. Wrap a cape around your shoulders; these can easily be found in costume shops or made by simply donning a black sheet. Slick your hair back using gel, so it is smooth and shiny on your head. The identifying accessory of this costume is the Phantom's white, partial-face mask. You can buy one precut or make your own from paper. Simply cut an oval from paper, add eye holes and then cut off the lower left side so part of your face will be exposed.
Batman is a popular costume party character -- but his alter ego, billionaire Bruce Wayne, is equally easy to create. The hero appeared often at parties in polished, three piece suits. Don a dark suit, and your costume is almost complete. Your identity will not immediately be known -- and that's part of the costume, as Bruce Wayne's friends didn't know he was Batman. Carry a key chain with the Batman logo, or keep the Batman mask sticking out of your pocket. Alternatively, if someone asks you who you are, offer them a preprinted Wayne Industries business card -- or look around surreptitiously, lean in and whisper hoarsely, "I'm Batman."
Zorro is another easy-to-create fancy dress costume character. Instead of a full suit, don black suit trousers and a black button-down shirt. Cut two eye holes in a black scarf, position and tie around your eyes. Use black material, like a sheet, wrapped around your neck for a scarf. Black boots and spurs and a black flat-brimmed hat are also important to the outfit. Make your own sword by cutting a sword shape from cardboard and then wrapping it in foil.
James Bond is an iconic fancy dress character, always portrayed in a tuxedo as extremely sharp and pulled together. Pair a tux or black suit with a white shirt, patent leather shoes and a black bow tie. To make your character's identity obvious, carry a martini glass. Bonus points for a companion dressed as a Bond girl, "M" or a Bond villain.
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