Witches and Fashion

   If you haven’t noticed already, there is totally an aesthetic associated with the witch. I’m not saying that you have to look like this because witches look like anyone but it’s a cool aesthetic to explore and look at. I also love studying fashion cultures and subcultures so I just had to do a post on witchy fashion. 

   Let’s start by looking at what witches wore in history. Because the original witches are simply ancient Pagans, it is hard to pin down when it started. A good place to start is in the book of 1 Samuel, king Saul sought out a witch for help. This was written around 931 b.c. and 731 b.c.. He or she was probably wearing animal skin around their waist with a belt with a cloth shawl and cloak over that. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

   Next we have Europe in the 1400’s. Witch hysteria was all the rage and the book “Malleus Maleficarum” was published in Germany. In English this translates to “The Hammer of Witches” and it was a guide on witch hunting. This book was the second most sold book in Europe, behind only the Bible. These witches were believed to be mostly women so I am going to go over what women wore in this time. Women typically wore a long dress with a kirtle and chemise underneath. These dresses also had detachable sleeves that would be ornamented. The deep V neckline was also popular to show off the ornamented kirtle underneath. Skirts were big at this time so the dresses were high waisted. Women’s hair was always pulled back and under a headdress like a veil but there were a variety of headdresses in this time. For shoes they wore ankle boots. 

   Now we skip a couple hundred years and witch hysteria has made its way into the new world. Although there were multiple witch hunts, the Salem Witch trials of 1692 are the most known. These people were Puritan women (most accused) so they had a strict dress code and no, they didn’t all wear black. You only got to wear black if you were rich but most of them wore brown or indigo. Clothes were often made out of form fitting cotton or wool. She had a lot of layers: underwear, knickers, chemise, petticoat, then finally her bodice and skirt. Because it was cold in Salem she probably wore an overcoat or cape as well. All of the Puritans covered their head with a hat but women could also wear a bonnet. Both men and women wore leather boots for footwear. The Puritans also knew how to accessorize, they all wore belts which they would attach tools to because their clothes rarely had pockets. They could also wear large embroidered, detachable collars along with embroidered gloves and cuffs.

   Coming into the modern era, the 20th century brought a revival of Pagan tradition with Gerald Gardner publishing “Witchcraft Today” in 1954. This made Gardner be seen as the founder of Wicca. Wicca became an official religion in the US in 1986. This is where we start to see the image of the witch that we know today because witches were being portrayed in pop culture by movies and celebrities that were thought to be witches. I am going to start off by analyzing 1960’s fashion and pop culture influences because this is when witchcraft began to take hold in the US. 

   1960’s- The show bewitched helped to take the stigma off of witches and particularly the city of Salem. So much so that there is a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery who played Samantha on Bewitched in Salem. Montgomery’s outfits were very 1960’s with bright colors and patterns. Samantha also had her witch outfit which was a long black dress with a green cape. This outfit was to show how powerful Samantha was because black is a more intimidating color. Long black dresses have also always been a witch staple. 

   1970’s- By the 1970’s witchcraft had taken a stronghold on the younger generations due to a number of movies and books made featuring witches along musicians like Stevie Nicks (my queen). One notable style icon is Linda Hayden from the movie “Blood on Satan’s Claw.” She wore a white dress and a flower crown which is often worn by witches today. 

   1980’s- I know I mentioned her already but I have to talk about Stevie Nicks. Along with being a legendary rocker, she is rumoured (see what I did there) to be a witch. She denies it but if you listen to her lyrics they are pretty witchy. Her style was also iconically witchy. She often wore flowy dresses with platform boots and a moon necklace. She also loved to wear black and to this day she performs in all black dresses. This is something because us witches often revere the moon, flowy dresses are a classic witchy style, and we are often found wearing black. She even had a moon shaped tambourine and her mic always has flowers and ribbons hanging from it. I was reading about Stevie and I read an article about her style and she said that when Fleetwood Mac started getting famous she ordered a lot of designer black clothes. She was so excited to wear them but then she couldn’t because people kept calling her a witch. After that she made sure to wear colors sometimes but if she wasn’t a witch, what did she have to hide? It also doesn’t help that she was on American Horror Story Coven. Believe what you want but she will always be my witchy rock goddess. 

   1990’s- The ‘90s were jam packed with witch movies that still inspire us today. Although there were many movies in the 1990’s and the 1970’s, I am going more in depth with the ‘90s movies because they are still greatly influence todays fashion. So first we have “The Witches” which was an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book. Angelica Huston was iconic as the grand high witch and she also wore an iconic black and purple dress which is a classic witch style. Side note: she fucking terrified me as a child. Next, we have “Hocus Pocus.” Fun Fact, Hocus Pocus is the most popular Halloween movie. Also the witches in Hocus Pocus were iconic and embody the over-the-top style that we sometimes have today. They’re also just iconic in general and had to be mentioned. Next we have “Practical Magic” which had Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witches… What more could you ask for? Their style in the movie is classic ‘90s and since the ‘90s is back it is influencing us. There is even a part where they wear witch hats and ride brooms so it’s a must see movie for baby witches. The 1990’s also blessed us with “The Craft.” I think that this is one of the most iconic witch movies ever. Fairuza Balk as Nancy is the best example of today’s idea of the witch aesthetic. The way she dresses like a stereotypical witch but keeps up with the time is genius and it inspires a lot of witches today. 

   Now- Witchcraft and Spirituality is having a huge resurgence and our pop culture reflects that with movies like “The Witches” remake, and “The Craft Legacy” along with “Hocus Pocus” remaining the most popular halloween movie and Stevie Nicks’ songs making a comeback. The way I see most witches dress reflects this culture with influences from the 1970’s and 1990’s. Although the ‘90s is more heavily influencing general fashion in 2020, I often see witches rocking some ‘70s looks. Because most of us are spiritual and free spirited we dress a little hippie but since we also like to be seen as powerful and confident we tend to add in some ‘90s grunge elements. An example is when I do my rituals I’ll often wear a flowy dress with tons of boho accessories but then I’ll have an undershirt and dark grunge makeup. 

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