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How to Create a Beautiful Gypsy Costume

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Me and my baby girl, April 2015

This subject is right up my alley! I play Daniella Noir the Gypsy Queen at the Texarkana Renaissance Faire. I am the leader of the Gypsy camp at the faire and many of my cast members are complete newbys to costuming and don’t have a ton of money to spend on buying garb so I’ve helped a lot of ladies (and men!) put costumes together. You can find darn near everything you need in your own closet, your mom’s closet, and at thrift stores!

I’m going the show you how to make a JAW DROPPING gorgeous gypsy costume!
Let’s start from top to bottom:

Image result for traditional gypsy
Image source



► HEAD SCARVES
You can wear a square scarf of a silky material, silk or satin. If you don't have a square scarf then simply cut a large square of fabric that’s over 20″ x 20″. Experiment tying your scarf in different ways that's best for your head shape and hair length. This article I found can help with that! How to Tie a Headscarf.

I sweat a lot when I perform so I wear a cotton rectangle scarf down to brow level, turban style. You can see how to wrap that in the article above.

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► SHIRT
The hippie and Bohemian fashion trend has been coming and going in huge waves for the past 5 years or so. It's so easy to find peasant style blouses in stores and thrift stores now. You probably already have some in your own closet! Go through you clothes and if you have shirt that looks hippie, gypsy, or bohemian, then it’s a winner!

My go-to blouse is blouse I found on Amazon by simply searching for “gypsy blouse”.

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(Me and my son.) Get this same blouse HERE.




►VEST and BODICE
Vests and bodices aren't really necessary, but they do add more texture and color to a costume and to me, the more layers the better! Visit your local thrift store and pick out cropped vest or one with a rounded hem. For a more historical look, invest in a bodice. They come in handy for other costumes! I doubt you're going to find one just laying around a thrift store but you new know! You can find them HERE on Amazon though.

Image result for antique gypsy photo

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I wear a men's Turkish vest I got on Etsy. I added the purple shisha mirrors and gold coin trim for added bling. My vest isn't exactly "gypsy" but I love the flair. I'm trying to look like a gypsy who has truly traveled the world and obtained a garment from every country. My leather waist cincher was handmade for me by renaissance faire merchant, Ye Artisans Lair. You can find similar wide belts like this HERE on Amazon.

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► SKIRT
Any long flowing skirt (broom skirt) of any color or pattern will do and it doesn’t have to perfectly match your blouse. You can also experiment with layering a slightly shorter skirt over a longer skirt for a bolder look. In the photo above, my green overskirt was a steal from Etsy for $5! I added the tassel trim myself with hot glue. The underskirt is from eBay and it's made from a whopping 32 yards of material, by We 3 Belly Dance. I don't think that company is currently making skirts but you can find 25-32 yard skirts on eBay HERE  and on Amazon HERE.

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Source Romani Gypsy musical band and magazine Svenko. Aren't they gorgeous?!?!?




► HIP SCARF
I prefer the gypsies in my camp to wear coin scarves because in my opinion it looks better than plain fringe and it makes noise! Yaaaaay jingly! You can actually find coin scarves quite cheap on eBay for as low at $4 each. Just make sure to check where the scarf is coming from. Many of the cheap coins scarves are coming from China and will take a few of weeks to arrive. You might not get it in time for Halloween.

Any fringe triangle scarf or fringe square scarf will work. Just simply fold it corner to corner so that it makes a triangle and tie it around your hips. If you don't have a fringe scarf, get creative with any kind of scarf. You can tie a long rectangle scarf around your waist like a sash.

But if you really want to go for a beautiful and eye-catching gypsy look, layer all of that together!

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► SHOES
Of course barefoot is the best way, but even I don’t do that! Yikes! I can't imagine doing a faire barefoot (some do though) but walking around fall festivals and taking kids trick-or-treating barefoot sounds like a nightmare! Boots and sandals are ideal but if you don’t have that, ballet flats will work just fine.

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I’m wearing regular modern faux-suede boots with strips of old sari tied around them.




►JEWELRY
There’s no such thing as too much jewelry with a gypsy costume. If you feel like you’re wearing too much jewelry, that’s when you know you’re wearing enough! Gypsy style jewelry has been available to buy in your average retail store for a few years now with the rise and fall of bohemian fashion trends. I'll even come across some really pretty pieces in dollar jewelry stores. But if you don't want to buy jewelry, just layer your own or borrow.

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►SPECIAL NOTES
First and foremost, I do not believe that "gypsy" is a derogatory term. Even gypsies refer themselves as gypsies. The only people I've seen get their feathers ruffled about the usage of the term gypsy are non-gypsies, so, please spare me the lecture about using the term. I have not, and I will never use the word gypsy a a way to insult or degrade anyone. 

Next, the hot topic of dressing up as a different culture for Halloween. I don't believe that dressing up as a person from a different culture is racist at all. I wish that we would all just chill out with all of that and stop telling people that they should not indulge in the beauty of someone else's culture. 

Image result for esmeralda disney world
"Storybook style" pure fantasy!
 Esmeralda & Clopin at Disney World
So tell me, what would be more racist: dressing up in a costume of a different culture you love OR refusing to have anything to do with any of that because you don't feel we should enjoy and cherish other cultures and ethnicities?

Anyway, if you are going to dress as a different culture, always do it with respect. Don't dress as another culture as a way to mock them like how whites did with their blackface minstrel shows. There's nothing funny about that kind of stuff. That's just plain hateful.

In my gypsy camp, we are storybook-style gypsies, it's all fantasy. We are not trying to portray the Romani people, they are our inspiration. We always act with grace and dignity so that we do not portray gypsies as being anything but beautiful vibrant people who love music and dancing. We never say things to patrons like, "I'm going to cast a spell on you" or "I'm gonna steal your children". In fact, one year a woman rushed her son past me saying, "Move on or she'll steal your heart!". I refused to play into it. I just gave them a lovely smile and kept my mouth shut (when I really wanted to pop her in the mouth for telling him that). I don't even allow fortune-telling and the Gypsy Camp because I don't want to contribute to the stereotype that all gypsies are fortune tellers and practice witchcraft. 

So with that being said, if you're going to dress as a gypsy for Halloween please be kind and respectful. 
Honor and glorify. Don't mock.

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