A gypsy costume is easy to make simply because there are just so many possibilities for it. There are, of course, some basic guidelines to creating a recognizable costume, but overall it is simple, inexpensive, and fun.
Such a costume as this begins with a trip to your attic or local thrift store (occasionally both). The costume can also be sewed by hand using a pattern of your choice (something similar to Simplicity 9966 is suggested, or one of the definite gypsy costume patterns sold around Halloween), but for now this guide will focus on finding the materials ready-made at little cost.
The main body of the costume can be either one or two pieces; a close-fitting but loose dress, or a floor-length skirt made out of cotton or a similar material paired with a low-cut top. With the dress option, sleeves will need to be attached, or you can simply wear a sleeved shirt underneath the dress. You are probably already familiar with the type of sleeves needed for such a costume – they can be made of a silky or sheer fabric and are very loose and puffing with a gathering at the wrist. (Three-quarter sleeves are also acceptable.)
These can be sewn quickly and without a pattern by simply measuring material that is the correct length of the arm and hemming it at the top and bottom, then gathering it at the wrist. To get the most out of the flowing design, do not sew the sleeve into a tube shape, simply fasten it at each end to keep it together and leave the middle as-is, then wear it with the open side facing you. If you are going for the skirt and top, this is optional (some gypsies are depicted wearing form-fitting short or sleeveless tops), so you can decide depending on the desire and availability of time and materials to add sleeves.
Once you have assembled the main body of the costume, it is time to add the bottom half. Tights of any color should work but will look best if they match the sleeves or bodice of your outfit. A pair of short suede boots are excellent footwear but do not feel obligated to go that route. Gypsies of the summery skirt-and-top type would be able to go sightless and barefoot (protect the bottoms of your feet using an insole) or wear sandals. Just keep in mind that tennis shoes will detract from the overall effect of the costume!
The hair is the next step. If you are fortunate enough to have long hair, you have many options at this stage. One favored look is to tease, curl or crimp your hair so that is it extremely full, and restrain it with a headband. Another idea for any hair length is to cover it with a scarf or bandanna.
Next, you must accessorize! The possibilities for this are endless: long strings of beads, large bangles, pendants with dull stones, beaded armlets, bracelets or anklets, scarves, pins made of coral or similar material, ribbons, and long dangling or hoop earrings are all standard gypsy fare.
A shawl, cape, ornate belt, beaded purse, or choker are also good ideas, as is the addition of ribbons and bells to any part of the costume. Add any or all of these for an authentic effect – nearly all of the jewelry can be purchased cheaply from a thrift store or yard sale, or you can even make it yourself with beads from a local craft store. Finally, you may or may not want to carry a prop. Possible props are tarot cards, a crystal ball, or a tambourine, depending on what kind of look you were aiming for.
When making a gypsy costume, keep in mind that almost anything goes – how much financing and work you put into it are up to you. Be creative and turn the costuming experience into something fun, wearable, and memorable.