The Wizarding World is one of many secrets and plenty of magic, but the true magic lies within the costume designer’s abilities to portray the character's personalities through the clothes they wear. Let’s go through some of the costumes, taking special note of how their character is reflected through those threads.
Hagrid is known as one of the most loyal characters in the series, always following Dumbledore's orders and protecting Harry. His name is even close to the word "haggard", which his clothes scream anyways. He stands at 8 feet 6 inches and lives in a hut as the groundskeeper. His clothes are earth-toned browns, greens and blacks. He's a gentle giant, nurturing creatures from dragons to giant spiders. He is homely-looking because he'd rather care for others than take care of himself.
Lockhart is one of the many Defense Against the Dark Arts professors throughout the series, making his debut in the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. He is a very conceited character, all about the glory. He doesn't care what he has to do as long as he's in the spotlight. His wardrobe largely consists of very dapper, pristine, regal clothes, much nicer and brighter than the black robes his co-workers wear. Gold is a color of wealth, a color valued among most cultures. His whole garb is essentially gold (even his hair), mixed with an ornate pattern on the vest, solidifying what he thinks about himself: that he is above everyone else. Wealth can also be associated with greed, of which he is immensely guilty, his character's fatal flaw.
Hermione is one of the three main characters in the series. This is a dress she wore to the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She is a shy, intelligent young woman with a fiery temper when she needs it. She is underestimated as a person, always expected to take the moral, cautious approach to everything she does. Her co-actors, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, see her as one of the guys rather than the young woman she is in reality. This particular dress was worn in a situation where Ron didn't believe anyone would like her enough to ask her to the dance, though Viktor Krum (very attractive man) ends up asking her. She shows her softer side through this beautiful, lilac dress covered in chiffon ruffles and silk, while simultaneously proving to Ron that she's desirable. It's kind of like a revenge dress, which sums up her personality in a few stitches.
Professor Umbridge is one of the most subtly evil characters in the series. Her character was showcased in the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Her sickly sweet demeanor is perfectly portrayed through her pink (often tweed) dress, skirt and sweater outfits riddled with bows and pleats. To the Ministry of Magic, she is seen as a prim and proper, top-notch educator which explains why they saw her fit to fill the Defense Against the Dark Arts teaching position after "Mad-Eye" Moody. However, her students saw the real side of her, rooted in medieval techniques of discipline. She is the picture perfect example of "tip-of-the-iceberg," meaning that certain people see the surface level Umbridge, but others understand the pink exterior is a fleeting moment in the grand scheme of her actual agenda at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
A fantastic, powerful and bewitching witch, forever Albus Dumbledore's right-hand-woman as Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts. She has a strict rule-following voice but a habit for turning a blind eye when it comes to the three musketeers, Harry, Ron and Hermione, as they get in a lot of trouble but almost always end up saving the castle. Her outfits are reserved, dark, never drawing attention to herself. Very fitting for the actress Maggie Smith, who had cancer during filming and didn't take off work because the world of Harry Potter was too important to pass up. She is elegant, professional, and understated, often wearing emerald greens which in nature symbolize peace, balance, calm and healing--everything McGonagall represents.
Fleur is a French witch who went to the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. She showed up in the fourth film when she came with her school to compete in the Triwizard Tournament. From the start, she was made to embody elegance, kindness and grace. The male students desired her and the girls wanted to be her. Her character sort of flits around Hogwarts in her light-blue silky outfit with gloves and an elfish hat that resembles a rain/dew drop. She is as beautiful and mysterious as the sky (from which she and her classmates flew down from in a horse drawn carriage); we never hear much from her because she is French but her character speaks more from her poise and finesse.
The Death Eaters are a group of incredibly sinister witches and wizards who have pledged their loyalty to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, Lord Voldemort (he's fictional, I can name him). Every one of them, other than Draco Malfoy (and Snape for the most part), has no problem with killing innocent people if it appeases The Dark Lord (again, Voldemort). They all wear mostly black, maybe dark grays here and there. Their outfits make it seem like they have no soul, which is showcased nicely in both the black robes and their name "Death" Eaters. Actions speak louder than words, and their actions are nearly entirely bringing death upon others. The Grim Reaper, also known as Death, is cloaked in black, similar to these devoted killers.
The Fat Lady is the woman on the portrait that is guarding Gryffindor Tower, where the common room and dorms reside. In the earlier films, this was the dress she wore, later on she was sheathed in a white dress. Either way, she is an extremely colorful woman who has been known to seek attention from those who enter through her passageway. Most of the students just want to get through but she'll have them stay and listen to her sing. Her dress is reminiscent of many opera singers, with many bustles, a corset and bright colors. She is the epitome of drama shown both in her personality and in her gown.
Snape's whole story is a lot more confusing than one might think. He has loyalty not only to Dumbledore because he is a professor at Hogwarts and has a duty to protect all students, but also has loyalty as a Death Eater to Lord Voldemort who has come back from "the dead", and also to Harry whom he is driven to protect because of his everlasting love for Harry's mother, Lily. As such a complex man, it only makes sense that no matter what he wears, robes or this little overcoat number here to the right--it's always plain black, leaving little to the imagination. He is secretive and doesn't like to be vulnerable so he wears nothing that will show any particular side of his personality. His wardrobe is like a black hole--a vacuum that not even light can escape.
Harry Potter & Ron Weasley
Harry and Ron have been best friends from the start. Both come from humble beginnings, at least Harry thought he did. Ron (right) has six siblings; five older brothers and one younger sister. His family isn't poor but definitely not well-off; they make do with what they have and use magic to fill in the voids. This being said, there are no expenses made, Ron just wears the hand-me-downs of his brothers. In this particular outfit, he is donning a handmade sweater his mom inevitably knit for him and rather dirty jeans. Ron is a generous kid and wears these clothes without another thought; he does anything he needs to help his friends family, even if it means injuring himself.
Harry grew up with nothing, though his aunt and uncle did fine financially, they spent not one cent on Harry. He found out later that he's actually rich because of the money his deceased parents left for him in a vault at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. However, since he didn't know he was rich, he developed a personality instead and only ever dressed using the bare minimum in terms of dress. He dresses like all other teenage boys in the muggle world: sweatshirts, khakis, tee shirts. The only thing that exposes him as "The-Boy-Who-Lived" is the ghastly lightning-shaped scar on his forehead, hidden beneath greasy bangs. He is a modest young boy who was never in the spotlight until he turned 11. He continues to be modest, following the guidance of Albus Dumbledore and only flaunting his riches when it comes to things like buying sweets from the trolly on the Hogwarts Express. He understands that other people are in need more than he is, so he never makes it a point to be extravagant in dress--most of the time someone is trying to murder him so he keeps a low profile.
Filius Flitwick, Mad-Eye Moody & Sybill Trelawney
Professor Flitwick (left) is many things--the Hogwarts Charms professor, the Head of Ravenclaw House and the Choir Master. He was described as a very short human, which leads readers to believe he comes from goblin ancestry. Since he holds many titles, his costume is mostly him wearing all black (a very universal color) and standing on a pile of books to be able to see better.
Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody (middle) was one of the Defense Against the Dark Arts professors, always wearing long coats and leather pieces with buckles. He has to wear what he needs to protect himself, as he is considered the world's best Auror, which is basically a cop who finds, defends against, and imprisons those who practice the Dark Arts. He lost one hand and an eye in a battle against the Dark Arts, which explains his signature look and nickname. His character IS his costume.
Trelawney (right) is the Divination professor at Hogwarts and is a half-blood witch. She can read tea leaves and see other events in the future. As a matter of fact, she was the one who made the prophecy of Lord Voldemort's return. Her eclectic fashion sense is met with her unique personality and crazy hair. Never afraid to tell you what your prophecy is she also is afraid of basically anyone who questions her gift. She makes a scene wherever she goes and cries louder than the patterns on her outfits are. She does sort of fit the stereotype of a typical psychic, even in the muggle world.
Madame Olympe Maxime
She is the Headmistress of Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in southern France, from which Fleur Delacour came. She exceeds Hagrid's height and stands 10 feet tall. She and Hagrid are drawn to each other and from the beginning she is a very sexual woman. She is quite the flirt when it comes to Hagrid and dances with him at the Yule Ball in the fourth film. Her outfits always have a unique aspect that could only be pulled off by her, and this dress to the left that she wore to the ball speaks to her sexual nature. Animal print is notorious for being a promiscuous pattern on clothing, many lingeries and undergarments are made with the animal patterns. She made this particular choice to wear a dress that is tight to her 10 foot tall frame and shows cleavage that is at the height that only Hagrid could see at his 8 foot 6 inch height. She knew exactly what she was doing, and Hagrid did not mind.
Murderer of Harry's godfather and her own cousin Sirius Black, LeStrange is one of the Death Eater's. She wears scrappy black clothing that looks like it was pieced together by a child. Her hair (a wig) is always tangled and wild; we see the wildness in her personality every time she interacts with literally anybody. She is blood-thirsty, always giddy to kill the next person. Her tattered clothes can symbolize her tattered sense of self and family.
Dumbledore was considered the greatest wizard of the modern era. He was always sheathed in very grand, silky and silvery robes. Even if you saw him from the back, you would know it was him not based on the intricate detail of the pattern of his clothes that would only be worn by someone as powerful as he was, but by his silvery white long hair. His beard even had a little costume of its own, a string with beads on the ends that brought his wiry beard together at his chest. He would rather protect Harry than himself and put himself at risk many times just so that Harry could live to see another day. White and silver, colors he often wore, symbolize perfection, sophistication and grandeur.
When Voldemort killed Harry's parents, Harry's mother used a more powerful type of magic--love. This sacrifice killed Lily, saved Harry, and destroyed Lord Voldemort when the killing curse backfired. Peter Petigrew (also known as Ron's rat, Scabbers) brought Voldemort's soul into a body again. The prop designers portrayed Voldemort's weakened body showing what a once-powerful wizard looks like drained of all power and strength. The ribs and veins are shown under the skin, and he is dehumanized by taking on a shape unlike that of a regular person. It takes the concept of a broken wizard stripped of everything he once had and puts it into a tangible being at rock bottom. This helps visualize the transformation from this to what he ends up as in the last film--a standing, walking, evil wizard.
The goblins are a staple in Harry Potter films. They often work at Gringotts Wizarding Bank and have distinct, distorted faces. They are grouchy in nature, and the staff who works on makeup makes sure that it shows on their face whenever they created the masks. Their elfin ears, deep-set eyes, furrowed brows and eternal grimaces set the stage for what seem to be some of the most unhappy, disgruntled characters in the Wizarding World.
Tom Riddle's Gravestone
Even the giant, slate-looking gravestone of Tom Riddle (Voldemort) is daunting. Voldemort is the leader of the Death Eaters and before he "died", his whole mission was to overtake the world and make sure there were no muggles left, immortality being his eventual goal. His gravestone is the vision of the Angel of Death, holding his scythe, wings coming out of his back, his rotted body covered in draping more ominous than a regular cloak. Normally graves have flowers or memories scattered on the ground in remembrance of the person buried there, but death was the only thing for which Voldemort was known.
Pomona Sprout was the professor of herbology and the Head of Hufflepuff House in Harry Potter. She taught a lesson about Mandrakes, or Mandragora, a plant thats root resembles a baby when they are young, screaming and crying like a baby but with much more volume. The plants get louder as they mature, screams reaching a volume that could be fatal if heard by human ears. They also have medicinal benefits in that they can make the restorative potion that revived everyone who was petrified during Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. They used a very visual, wrinkly body of a baby to represent the roots, which fits their childish, deafening cry.
These spooky non-beings can literally suck the soul out of a person; they feed on human happiness. They are mainly used as prison guards at Azkaban, a prison for convicted criminals in the Wizarding World. They are used for additional purposes when needed, like protecting Hogwarts under Dumbledore's command. The Patronus Charm can be used to deter them if they are near someone. The costume is simple, a skeleton draped in ripped, gray cloth. To suck out human happiness, they first induce fear with their appearance and continue to only leave you with the darkest thoughts and memories in your head, if not leave you dead.
Circle of Life
These are the outfits the main characters wear in the last scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The costumes are well-rounded and sophisticated. They drop their kids off at the Hogwarts Express in these outfits, showing that they have grown up and out of the robes they wore for seven years. They have come full circle, always being a part of the Wizarding World but passing the baton to the next generation of witches and wizards.