Originally folklore from the Renaissance, gnomes, meaning "earth-dwellers” in later years became a common part of fantasy literature and lore. Sometimes synonymous with goblin, gnomes are said to be somewhat magical or mystical creatures that are linked to the earth. Eventually these short little creatures inspired artists to create garden gnomes. The first garden gnome was created in the 1800s as a way to keep the folklore alive that gnomes love to help out in the garden. Since they’ve been extremely popular in homes all over the world, garden gnome costumes have also be popular.
Gnome costumes inspired by fantasy may take on a different style than garden gnomes. Garden gnome costumes generally depict a short man with a white beard and red hat. The style of dress may otherwise be different, but those features taken from “Lampy” one of the original terracotta garden gnomes ever made are always present. Today one of the most well known gnomes and the inspiration for many gnome costumes is the Travelocity gnome, who also bears similarities with Lampy, like the pointy red hat.
Gnomes appear in fantasy literature, usually described as short creatures that live underground, often working as builders or inventors. In the role playing game Dungeons & Dragons gnomes are one of the races a player can choose from. In the game they are thought of as curious and friendly with a rich culture. Gnomes also appear in the video game World of Warcraft, and are also depicted as friendly builders who live underground. Costumes based on fantasy literature, games and movies leave more room for creativity and stray away from the typical pointy hat style.