(Some practical advice on fancy dress costumes found in an English dance manual from 1920.)
On the subject of Fancy Costumes much may be said, but let me urge both sexes to take into consideration their personal characteristics, such as build, complexion, colour of hair, etc., before selecting their costumes.
Incongruities such as a short stout man with glasses disguised as Mephistopheles, or a tall Spanish-looking lady as Little Red Riding Hood are absurd -- and yet one sees them.
There are many striking costumes which may be made at home: among them, for men, Arab Cowboy, Gipsy, Poet; or for ladies, Boyblue, Quaker Girl, Flower-girl, Spanish Dancer, etc.
Those desiring Historical or more elaborate costumes should invariably obtain expert advice from a costumir. Take particular care that the headdress and shoes are in keeping with the costume; what more incongruous than Dutch clogs on a cowboy or a powdered wig with a Red Riding Hood costume?
Many fancy-dress balls are confined to the characters of some author or playwright, such as Dickens, Shakespeare, etc. Others are of some particular period of history, such as Elizabethan.
The advice of an expert is absolutely necessary in selecting a suitable costume for such as these.
Above all things, a dancer should always consider whether his or her own ideas as to the effectiveness of a costume coincide with other people's ideas of what woud suit his or her figure or complexion, etc., prior to making a definitive choice.
Whatever costume you may select it is as well to make sure beforehand that it is going to be comfortable to dance in -- otherwise you will probably spend a a thoroughly miserable evening.
D'Egville, Geoffrey. How and What to Dance, 2nd Ed. London: C. Arthur Pearson, 1920.