Romany Costume Ideas: Go Boho Without Spending a Fortune
Boho Bellydancer Dress Costume Ideas for Girls and Women
Boho bellydancer, Bohemian vagabond, Roma nomad... although the word "gypsy" is now considered a racist term, that's what we're talking about. Need some ideas on how to put together a great costume? We've got 'em! These are fun to make and wear for Halloween or a costume party any time of the year. Plus, the Bohemian (Boho) look is stylish and very popular for everyday wear right now. I love it!
We'll show you how easy, fun, and fast it can be to raid your friends' closets, mom's or grandma's jewelry box, and even the local thrift store to find interesting clothing and accessories to create an inexpensive, original, and unique homemade costume.
Don't have time to sift through closets to assemble your outfit? This page includes suggestions for costumes and accessories you can buy. Choose your favorite (remember to shop early), place your order, and getting ready for this season's Halloween or costume party will be a piece of cake—errr, pumpkin pie!
Read on for tips to help you get the look DIY as well as for a selection of costumes available for purchase.
Your Romany Costume Supply List
Here's the short list. Read on to learn how to put it all together for a great look.
- Start with a long, or even a short, full skirt. A ruffled petticoat is optional but fun.
- Add a peasant blouse.
- Layer on scarves and shawls.
- Don't forget the jewelry— dangly earrings and strands of beads.
- Wear boots, sandals, or simple shoes, your preference.
- Apply bright makeup.
- Carry a tambourine for music—or for collecting treats!
Mood Music: A Song to Help You Brainstorm
"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" by Cher. Perfect choice!
Putting It All Together
Ideas and suggestions for putting together your own Boho costume, piece by piece.
The most important ingredient of any homemade costume is creativity. Start with our list, but use your imagination and get creative to end up with the best costume of the night!
We have examples of most of these items, so scroll the page so you don't miss anything.
Prefer to buy a costume? We have those further down the page, too. Continue to scroll down the page to take a look.
Start From the Top With a Headscarf and Wig
One of the most distinctive parts of this costume is the headscarf. If you already have long hair, choose a pretty scarf from your local discount store or a consignment shop; most have plenty of scarves on hand. Refer to the video above to learn how to tie your scarf depending on its shape. Give it a try, it's easy!
If you don't have long hair and really want to change your look, consider this awesome wig.
Invest in a Bohemian Skirt Fit for Everyday Wear
Next, add the most distinctive part of a Boho outfit: a long, full skirt in a print, stripe, or solid color. The brighter, the better. Consider layering a shorter ruffled skirt over a long one for a very unique look. Asymmetric hems add visual interest, as seen in the skirt below.
This is a beautiful long skirt that would make a great starting point for your costume—and you can wear it later, too. Mix or match the colors with the other components of your outfit.
Add a Peasant Blouse
Add an off-the-shoulder peasant blouse in a jewel tone or your favorite color. Peasant blouses have been very popular the last couple of years, so it should be very easy to find one at a thrift or consignment shop if you don't already own something that will work.
Layer on a Hip Scarf
Tie a silky scarf around your waist and another around your hair. Look for long, wide, lightweight scarves and get creative! Tie a pretty fringed shawl around your waist or shoulders.
These hip scarves for belly dancing are eye-catching and a fabulous addition to your look. They're available in many gorgeous colors and also just might be the most popular item on this page.
Pile on the Jewelry
Wear lots of jewelry, such as strings of beads, big hoop earrings, shiny chain necklaces, bracelets, and belts. Again, a thrift store should be able to provide you with some great choices. Go for flashy pieces as you're looking through the jewelry box. Load 'em on! A proper belly dancer can never have too many strands of beads! Even if you buy a costume, you'll want to embellish it with some "bling."
These stunning, dangling earrings are perfect for the look. Picture them with the head scarf above. Your costume is almost complete with these two items alone!
Where to Look for Boho Costume Pieces and Affordable Accessories
Think creatively when you're gathering pieces for your homemade costume.
You'll find ideas in:
- Your closet
- Your mom's closet
- Your friend's closet
- The neighborhood thrift store or consignment shop
- Mom's or grandma's jewelry box (ask first!)
Layer them on and have fun!
Poll: Make It or Buy It?
Do you prefer a homemade or store-bought costume?
Please participate in our quick poll. If you have more to add, we have a comments section for that near the bottom of the page. Thanks for voting!
Do You Usually Make or Buy a Halloween Costume?
Complete, Pre-Made Costumes
Entire outfits for purchase or inspiration.
The Look We're Going for. Isn't It Gorgeous?
Includes the dress with the ruffled underskirt/petticoat, the bandana and waist sash (both with sequins), and vinyl belt, plus a half-dozen fortune teller cards to use as props.
The adorable little Roma in the picture is the author of this page when she was about four, wearing her homemade costume, capturing the Boho look even before Boho was cool.
I was fortunate to have parents who took pictures, and since I'm the oldest of the kids in our family there are more pictures of me than any of the others. Many happy childhood memories are triggered when I look through my photo album. When I decided to make a page about Halloween based on my past experiences, the costume picture above immediately came to mind.
I called my mom to ask her about the costume. She thinks I was probably four years old. She says she can remember dressing me up this way, but she doesn't remember many of the details. In the '50s, women wore scarves more than they do today, and obviously we used a few to create my Boho look. My mom didn't wear big, dangly earrings, so I have to think that perhaps she borrowed at least the earrings and possibly some of the other jewelry from a friend or maybe one of my doting aunts. I wish we still had some of those fancy pieces!
I also wish the picture was in color, but in those days most people still took photos in black and white. It's pretty easy to see, though, that I was wearing some bright lipstick, and I'm sure my outfit was pretty colorful, too.
These days, store-bought Romany costumes often include a crystal ball. If my mother had one back then, I doubt it would have predicted that I'd be using this picture more than 50 years later to illustrate an article online. (Online? What's that?) My, how things have changed! But then again, how they've stayed the same. Dressing up at Halloween was fun then, and I'm guessing that most little girls today would still love to create a fancy Bohemian style dress costume like this one. Thank goodness kids still are born with imagination—and moms still like for their kids to have fun!
Thanks so much for visiting. Have fun creating your costume! Let us know how it turned out in a comment below.
© 2010 Susan Deppner