When it comes to Halloween costumes, Gypsy costumes are some of the most controversial and insensitive. They are often a mish-mash of Eastern European and North African elements that are not only inaccurate, but offensive to Romani culture.
So let’s look at each component of a “Gypsy” costume and see what they actually represent.
The Skirt: Floral skirts are worn in many places around the world, but they can be traced back to at least 1940s Romania (according to folklorists). It’s also common for Romanian women to add a black velvet ribbon around the bottom of their skirts.
Belt: A red belt is very common in Romanian fashion, usually made with embroidery and coins along the hem. The coins symbolize wealth and prosperity.
Boots: Many Romanian women wear high brown boots, sometimes with red embroidery or other decorations. But these are typically knee-high style boots that lace up the front, not pointy-toed booties like what’s shown in this photo.
Blouse: “Gypsy” blouses are usually white off-the-shoulder tops with an array of beading and embroidery along the edge. This design is commonly found in Moldova, Romania
If you’ve seen the musical, you know that the Gypsy costume is a large part of its appeal. Most people who see the musical will want to dress up in a gypsy costume for Halloween or for a party. If you are interested in wearing a gypsy costume, it’s important to understand what each component represents and what is historically accurate.
Gypsies are an ethnic minority of Romani people who were originally from India. They were believed to have arrived in Europe around 1000 AD, but there are some who believe they may have been there as early as 600 BC.**
The Gypsy costume is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful and vibrant costumes out there. It definitely has a unique look and style that is easily recognizable throughout the world. I’ve always been interested in cultural costumes, so I wanted to put together a blog about the history and accuracy of each element of this costume.
Essentially this blog will address how to put together a historically accurate Gypsy costume! This post also covers some terminology for those who are not familiar with costuming or Roma culture (ie: Gypsy).
First off, what is a Gypsy? Well, it’s definitely not someone who wanders around in brightly colored clothing with tambourines and dances the Flamenco. The term ‘Gypsy’ is actually an ethnic slur against members of an ethnic minority called the Roma people. The term actually comes from the belief that they came from Egypt during medieval times. However, this could not be further from the truth as most Roma people have no connection to Egypt at all (with some exceptions). There are many names that various groups of Roma go by depending on where they are located, but all of them fall under the same umbrella term of being Roma.
So what is a good alternative to the
It’s October and you know what that means: time for costumes! Whether it’s a Halloween party or a school play or just dressing up at home, it can be so much fun to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes. But if you’re looking for a gypsy costume this year, before you buy or make anything, I’d like to give you some food for thought.
The most common gypsy costume looks something like this:
Image Credit Tonaquint
a “gypsy” headscarf
a full skirt (preferably with a petticoat)
hoopskirt (or hoop underskirt)
a corseted top with lots of lace trimming (optional)
big chunky rings on every finger and thumb
big bracelets around the wrists and upper arms
lots of necklaces and beads (and lots of coins hanging from the waistband of the skirt)
Halloween is an exciting time for children, who love to dress up in costumes. But many adults enjoy getting dressed up as well. The costume industry is booming in the United States alone, with Americans spending more than $3 billion on costumes each year.
Fascination with gypsies has existed since they first appeared in Europe, and it continues today. It is not surprising that gypsy costumes are popular Halloween attire. But what are the origins of a gypsy costume? Some elements are traditional parts of Romani culture and dress, while others have been fictionalized or borrowed from other cultures’ clothing.
The most iconic element of a gypsy costume is the headscarf worn over the hair. In Romani communities, head coverings were worn by both women and men as a sign of respect, and were never removed in front of elders or strangers. The scarves were also used to carry babies and small children. Scarves came in many colors and patterns, with red being a particularly meaningful color to Roms because it was believed to ward off bad luck (this belief may have originated from Hindu culture). There is no evidence that scarves were ever worn around the neck or shoulders for men or women; however, this style became popularized through fictional depictions
The Gypsy Costume is almost as popular as the Playboy Bunny costume for Halloween. After doing some research, I found that the Gypsy Costume is more of a caricature than an actual representation of the Roma people. This is a case where some knowledge of history would have been helpful.
Many people are attracted to the idea of dressing up in a “Gypsy” costume because it appears colorful and exotic, but this costume is heavily steeped in racial stereotypes that have existed for hundreds of years. The myth of the Roma (as they prefer to be called) dates back to medieval times when they were thought to come from Egypt and possess magical powers. In reality, Romani people most likely originated in India and migrated west through Persia and Greece, finally settling in Eastern Europe.
The reality behind these costumes is that there is no such thing as a traditional “Gypsy” costume, since there are various groups within the Romani culture with their own unique functions and styles. The costume you see in stores and online are based on English Victorian stereotypes about Romani people who were ostracized from society for being nomadic, dirty, and criminal.
The first thing to notice about this costume is her skirt. It is a very typical gypsy skirt and every year around Halloween I see a lot of these skirts recreated, but without the detailing and layers. These skirts were typically made from three different fabrics and were sewn together with contrasting colors. The colors were often bold, bright colors that stood out against each other.
The second thing to notice about her skirt is the way it’s tied around her waist. Her skirt is not one piece of fabric, so she has tied it in such a way as to create layers.
The third thing to notice about this costume is the vest she’s wearing on top of her blouse. This element could easily have been left out of the costume, but it adds another level of detail that brings together all the other elements of the costume. This vest also provides a good contrast and helps define the silhouette of her body.
A lot of people think gypsies are homeless wanderers, but they’re not actually homeless at all; they live in houses like everyone else! The only difference is that gypsies tend to wear more colorful clothes than non-gypsies do.
I love how she accessorized her outfit with jewelry! Gypsies are known