Gypsy Style Belly Dancer, Costuming and Gift Ideas

I took bellydance lessons and performed, then became interested in costume. The historical relationship of dance and culture is fascinating. Let’s examine the way we think they look, with swirling skirts and ethnic jewelry.

Discover Gypsy’s performance art and their colorful costuming, then borrow the look for your own, for performance or Halloween dress-up.

Gypsy Dance, Colorful Costumes, Fiery Passion

A Gypsy Garb

We call them “Gypsies”, they call themselves “Roma” or “Rom”.  They are a colorful people with a long history, who inspire a romantic view and enrich our cultures with their costume, crafts and dance. The first part of this post looks at the way we can put together a costume with Gypsy flavor; secondly, it is filled with gift ideas for the dancer in your life; winding up with examples of the styles of costume and dance.

This is a brief look at how their dance influences other cultures and costuming, because we all know that it is a favorite look whenever there is a costume party!

Picture Yourself

Immediately we think of a wild melange of color, but what are the essential elements?

Depending on which shape-shifting variation you wish to present:

  • Belly dancer…
  • Eastern European …
  • Flamenco dancer

Why Put Together This Style Costume?

If you attend Renaissance Fairs, take part in dance performances, (or that most loved time for dressing up) attend Halloween events, the costume ideas are all valuable.

Each of these occasions call for one of the variations of this highly identifiable outfit.

Whether it is for your own dance performance or for the classic Halloween costume, “The Gypsy” look is fun to put together. The common denominator is plenty of flash and color.

Costume Ideas from Gypsy Dancers All Over the World

The Quintessential Coif: Long Dark Hair and a Scarf

What do you think of when picturing a gypsy? Long black hair warn loosely, a bright scarf to wrap it up and gold coin jewelry.

What do you think of when picturing a gypsy? Long black hair warn loosely, a bright scarf to wrap it up and gold coin jewelry.

Don’t have the long dark hair that is a signature style for under the bandana? Simply use a wig, many dancers do. If you find the idea of extensions too troublesome and costly, especially if just wanting to costume for a single event like Halloween, use an inexpensive wig just for the purpose.

Common Elements of this Mode of Costume

  • The jewelry: hoops, bangles, strands of beads, coin decorated scarves.
  • Scarves: for head and hip, and over the shoulder, as well
  • Skirts: full and colorful, combining prints and bright colors in a uniquely individual way.
  • Boots, high heels, stylish footwear, if possible. Take your pick.
  • Blouse that is full and feminine- peasant style.

Put Together Your Own Version

Gypsies brought their culture to many countries

Gypsies brought their culture to many countries

Gypsy-Style D-I-Y Ensemble

Many parts of belly dance garb have been lifted from the wardrobe of performing Gypsies. The intention was to draw attention and impress with vivid and spectacular design. This makes for an impressive performance.

Except for real gold jewelry, it doesn’t take much wealth to produce an eye catching outfit.

Anyone wanting to make a splash in their Halloween plans can borrow these costume ideas. It isn’t hard to put together this ensemble.

Nowadays, we don’t need real gold to create shine and sparkle, anyway. There are plenty of costume jewelry choices: chandelier earrings, strands of golden metal and beads, fake coins, and ethnic looks.

Add them to beautiful skirts and blouses, and further outfit with heeled boots.

Voila! You’re done, with a more or less authentic look that brings theatre onto the scene.

Skirt Style and Accessories: Get the Look

  • Whether short or long, a skirt that flares and swirls is part of the traditional gypsy look.
  • Tiers of colored ruffles or one skirt over another, with the outer one hiked up to reveal the underskirt.
  • A full peasant blouse, sometimes with a wide neckline. Sometimes a bolero vest.
  • Set off the waist with a hip scarf or wide belt.
  • A headscarf and big hoop earrings. tie on bandana style
  • Bling, bling, bling when it comes to necklaces and bangle bracelets.
  • Dangling earrings bring more bling

Performance Costuming

Most of the bellydance performance bras and belts can be quite expensive, and must fit exactly, but there are plenty of stretchy and adjustable tops, and hip scarves that will work for almost any size. Look for those to give as a gift- they will be very welcome as most of the time a belly dancer spends dancing is practicing in a studio or at home.

While any dance-wear works, those with fringes and coins make the dance more fun and help visualize he way the movements look.

Fringed Coin Bra Top


Gift Idea

This is the ideal gift- a practice or tribal performance coin decorated top. Enough fringe to accentuate those important rolls and drops.

Any belly dancer would love this for an authentic feel when practicing and doing classes and rehearsals.

Dance Photographer – Brendan Lally

Gifts Ideas for your Favorite Belly Dancer

It is easy to shop for someone who discovers belly dance, they have all sorts of costuming and makeup ideas they want to try. But maybe it isn’t quite as easy for you to figure just what thrills the heart of a student of Oriental dance, and that is what this lens is for… to open the world of Middle Eastern souks, the exciting accessories of the look of the Orient, and suggest the perfect gift choices for a Belly Dancer.

It can be a birthday, it can be Christmas, or any special holiday that you wish to use to shower a dancer in a show of appreciation. With these suggestions you are sure to find something that thrills a special someone who loves to shake and shimmy to her favorite Raqs Sharqi music.

The Key To A Great Gift Choice

That is what a woman wants: to feel beautiful and cared for.

Find out what those key things are and you know what to give as a gift she will remember. As well as your thoughtfulness.

For a woman who enjoys the Baladi dance form, part of the fun is the feminine way it makes them feel, including the chance to dress up and use exotic makeup. Exploring other cultures through the music, and even a bit of the history is part of the entire experience.

Clue into these things and you will have a treasure trove of ideas that will make the perfect gift, unlike any others.

Jewelry Is Always A Welcome Addition

For dancing performance or anytime she wishes to dress up, there are some fun costume jewelry ideas here. There are lots of different styles – some with coins, silver tone, gold tone, some that totally different … but all are fun and add sparkle.

For any woman on your list, jewelry might be a safe bet for a welcomed and enjoyed gift, but the Belly Dancer is just a little bit different.

She not only likes lots of jewelry, she adores the sparkly, kind that is strung with coins, and makes a great show when she moves.

That is why eye-catching items such as slave bracelets, Cleopatra bib necklaces, and chandelier earrings are favorites. If you really want to get the perfect gift of costume adornments, check the colors of her favorite outfits to see if gold or silver are the metal color for her.

Gift Inspirations

  • Tribal jewelry is always welcome, because it can be used anytime. Artful and fun, tribal jewelry gives any outfit a unique and fashionable look. Ebay is the perfect place to pick up great pieces that any belly dance aficionado would love.
  • Chandelier earrings, bib necklaces, armbands, all these types of jewelry are used to give an exotic flavor to an outfit, or in a dance performance.
  • Spa gift cards are guaranteed to make most women happy, but especially when a dancer wants to look her best. Manicures, pedicures, facials, even a massage is a great way to give a gift that will be appreciated.
  • There is always room for one more coin hip scarf!
  • Dance wear for practice and workouts can be a unique gift.
  • Belly dance slippers
  • A 3.5 yard length of silk for a dance veil, hem the ends and it is a beautiful gift. Great for all sizes.

Fabulous Tribal Gifts

To find something truly authentic with a degree of craftmanship that is rare, try online auctions.

The beauty of some of these tribal pieces is sometimes astounding in the way they add to an outfit or a stage costume. Don’t miss out on the chance to get a gift that is beyond the run of the mill mall purchase!

Feeling Beautiful is Really Important

Spa gifts, manicure and pedicure sets, creams and lotions…

Cosmetics And Fragrance Gifts Are Classic

This classic combination is a good choice for any woman, but look for the cosmetics that are recommended for the stage. Mac or Stila brand eye makeup, Glittery eye-catching powders… things like that.

Gifts of cosmetics and fragrance can be the best kind, so long as they are the right kind. Do a little sleuthing, or get something a seasoned bellydancer recommends.

Try to find the type of eye makeup your belly dancer prefers, or any beauty treatment or luxury skin treatment is a welcome present.

Common Elements of Gypsy Dance and How It Influences Other Cultures

The history of the Roma and their dance is intertwined. A common denominator in many of the belly dances, folk dances and the Flamenco of Spain, are hip and hand movements. All these dance forms share some of the same movements and steps.

Today’s fusions have proven a little harder to “pull off”, because while the movements create a common bond, the other factors such as feeling and manner are much more difficult to meld well.

What are the elements of Gypsy dance?

Take a video tour of a few examples and enjoy the entertainment that Gypsy people have perfected in their artistry of music and dance.

Romani Style Belly Dance

Turkish Dance

Eastern European Dance Fusion

Making the Dance Moves

Pay attention to specific movements in this dance form.

What makes this style dancing so enthralling?

It is enthralling for one reason: the performance is infused with passion and intensity. The most technically well-articulated gypsy dance leaves the viewer flat if it does not vibrate with the emotional intensity of the Gypsy soul.

That is just part and parcel of this style of dance.

I am not sure if the dance can be separated from the music and interaction of the performers. It is an art form of inner fire, but also a response to the musicians and the story that is being portrayed. But like any particular cultural performance style, there is a vocabulary of movement and gesture that can be understood and appreciated by the audience.

Gestures, hand bumping, and skirt gestures might have meaning in certain cultural forms, but they are usually used as a way to accent percussive sounds in the music. Some of the gestures are obvious references to everyday activities like washing clothes or baking, etc.

Emotions Expressed

Happiness may be expressed by the dancer touching her fingertips to her forehead, or placing her fingertips just at the top of her ear.

For instance, an Egyptian gesture, “Al Assal”, is made with the dancer’s fingertips to the side of her chin, meaning “as sweet as honey.”

Flamenco Style

Spanish Gypsies, An Example of Culture and Costume

Arising from Spain, flamenco brings together many aspects of Gypsy culture, and is a particularly sophisticated costume. One of the most famous dancers, Carmen Amaya, demonstrated that the dress wasn’t always stereotypical.

Greatest performances

Connections with Flamenco

Flamenco dances, from the gypsies of Andalusia, are considered to be of fairly recent origin. It is believed these dances preserve many of the traditional characteristics of Spanish dancing.

“One can hear the strong Arabic influence in flamenco music….the dance moments in flamenco with the hips and the portrayal of strong emotion and passion are essentially Arabic.” -Hossam Ramzy

Spanish Styled Costuming

red is a classic color choice for these dresses

Red is a classic color choice for these dresses

Elements of the Flamenco ensemble for women include:

  • Ruffled, colorful skirts
  • Large flower in the hair
  • Large hoop or chandelier earrings
  • At times, a long fringed shawl
  • Mid heeled dress shoes
  • Sometimes a version of the men’s style

Men’s styling:

  • Bolero jacket
  • High waisted trousers
  • Boots, usually short.
  • Decorations such as braid on the jacket

My Favorite Dance is….

Which is your favorite Gypsy influenced dance?