Crop Over is a Barbadian or what locals call, a Bajan folk festival, which evolved from the harvest festivals of two cultures, England and West Africa. The Crop Over festival, as the name suggests, signalled the “end of the crop”, and was a way of the workers “expressing themselves” or masquerading at the end of a long season. The early costume designs were indigenous to the Barbadian culture. 


Individuals dressed in clothing that they would usually wear at home; and materials like grass and paper, sponge, recyclable materials, materials obtained locally, and later a variety of coloured fabric, were used to make costumes with masks and head-pieces made of feathers. 


During the 1920’s and 1930’s, costume design in Barbados was possibly influenced by the popular costume and fancy dress party traditions of Europe and North America. The Barbadian theatre tradition, which was active from the late 18th century, may have also influenced this type of costume design among Bridgetown’s white and black middle class communities, who dominated this kind of cultural expression. 

Tee shirt bands were also part of the costume, and as the name suggests, persons wore Tee shirts and pants, but with the introduction of more artificial materials like vibrant colourful feathers and beads which took to the stage during the late 1980s to 1990s, and the move by the National Cultural Foundation to limit the amount of Tee shirt bands, dissolved these to a much smaller almost non-existent stage.


The costumes of the 1970s and early 80s aptly depicted elements of Barbadian culture and the natural environment. However, costumes of today are very similar, very simplistic decorative swimwear style, with a variety of themes which are often difficult to appreciate in the costume.


The costumes of today are targeted at a younger crowd and many of these revellers prefer to masquerade rather than become involved in wearing a costume which portrays aspects of Barbadian heritage and culture. The majority of the costumes today are in the form of a decorated two piece or one piece swimsuit. Some individuals believe that the focus today has changed to a street party atmosphere, rather than a cultural festival, and Kadooment has become dominated by bikinis, beads, feathers and most recently body paint. Much of this type of costume is evident in the Trinidadian and Brazilian carnivals.