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?

Magnetic Arabic Eyes, The Kim Kardashian Look

Wonder how to get those amazing eye looks for your night out on the town? Here are some tips and tutorials to make up your eyes like an Arabic Odalisque.

eyes have it
Arabic Eye Makeup

Kohl Outlined Eyes for Feminine Mystery

Middle Eastern style of makeup is very precise, with well groomed brows and strongly lined and shadowed eyes. Every part of the face is paid attention.

Think ‘Kim Kardashian’, and you get a picture of how this eye makeup technique looks: strong, smokey, magnetic. Her look is ideal for times when you want to have a smokey eye, but not the powerful impact of the stage makeup. (Which really belongs to the stage!)

Scotch tape (yes, the type you use for taping gift wrap!) is used to give the sharp color definitions. So grab a roll of scotch tape before you begin.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Kim Kardashian Look – American Version of Arabic Eye Makeup

Kim Kardashian does the smokey eye like no one else. Enjoy the tutorial.

Mac Eye Kohl Eyeliner-smolder
Mac Eye Kohl Eyeliner-smolder Kohl eyeliner gives the smoldering look of the Arabian eye makeup.

Kohl Eyeliner is a Key Product – for the Middle Eastern eye – Many tutorials recommend this brand eyeliner

Makeup artists who know often use and recommend MAC products for the best results.

Natural Kohl is a plant derivative (sometimes it was made from charred Frankincense).

Kohl Eyeliner was used as an anti-microbial and reduced glare from the sun, but today is made from other ingredients and used mainly as a cosmetic enhancer for the eyes..

Smokey Eye

The Overall Middle Eastern Look

More Middle Eastern eye makeup tips from Internet Bellydance sites.

A smooth chignon, a matte look for the skin, polished nails, it all adds up to a sultry look. While it is an everyday makeup to have heavily Kohled eyes in the Middle East, here in the West the look is more for evening wear.

Still, toning down the application of the shadow and the liner could transfer the look to our own social setting. The look is probably best when the smokey eye is combined with a nude or light pink lipstick.

Gallery of Arabian Makeup Looks

The Whole Enchilada

There is a whole look to the ideal of Middle Eastern beauty. Shiny, conditioned hair, carefully made up eyes, full lips that are lined and lipsticked. The eyes are given the most attention, and that accentuation makes them magnetic. (but don’t forget the rest of the package).

Powdered, perfumed, polished, and glossed.

Arabic Makeup Style – Is it a style for you?

Would you wear the Middle Eastern look?

Sulty and Smokey Eyes Makeup

MAC Eye Shadows – Beautiful, Professional Look

MAC Eye Shadow Velvet Black Tied

Fantastic Kohl Product – Get this eyeliner NOW!

Don’t wait to obtain the most beautiful, sultry, eyes you have ever had… this is affordable and gives a great effect if you love a dark smokey eye.

Mac Eye Makeup Products – Recommended by almost all these tutorials

Old vintage photo
Portrait of a Turkish Woman in a Harem, in Cairo. Old vintage photo

Mac is the brand most professionals recommend. There is a real difference between quality makeup products and the cheaper ones, You really do get what you pay for… in ingredients and pigments.

L'Oreal Paris HiP Studio Secrets Professional Color Truth Cream Eyeliner, Black, 0.159 Ounce

Excellent very dark shade, long lasting, and waterproof. Comes with the eye brush applicator which creates a perfect line.

Secret: Shhh, Makeup Brushes – Blend, blend, blend -brushes create the look

Here is a list of some of the most helpful, recommended brushes for professional application of this complex eye makeup.

  • MAC 275 brush (angled blending brush)
  • MAC 194 brush (small concealer brush)
  • MAC 168 brush (angled contouring brush)
  • Make Up Store’s flat shader brush
  • No Brand Blush brush (bristles are of a great quality)

Using brushes to blend is the main secret for the beauty of this look.

This is a high drama look that works best for theatrical uses and performances, or high fashion gala events. Modify it for a more ordinary event or venue.

Hungarian Traditions, Finding Happiness

Using your culture to find your happiness. Hungarians aren’t known for their high happiness levels, in fact they rank #9 in the world suicide rate. Is there hope for happiness?

|JL| on Flickr
|JL| on Flickr

Finding Happiness In Your Cultural Values

There are too many reasons for people to find themselves depressed and in despair, but if you look there are also plenty of life changes that can be made to lift your happiness levels. While I’m not a professional, and not silly enough to try to tell you there is one quick fix for your emotional unhappiness and struggles, I can tell you a few things that are helpful and can make a huge difference for you.

Maybe you would like to know a little more about Hungarian culture, or maybe you want some tips on how to lift your mood; this is a collection of things that help me from my heritage, that I enjoy and want to share with you.


That certainly is a hard question to answer.

Despite the fact that perceptions of happiness are different for each individual, researchers have found some interesting findings on how human happiness levels work. What makes conclusions about those findings so hard to analyze is that there are a number theories based on data collected about the relative happiness of people. It is hard to reduce to just one theory or answer. But there are a couple primary ideas.

One idea that has been formulated is that people are happy relative to the perceived comparisons between themselves and others.

Another gauge of happiness is how much an individual enjoys life.

So much of what makes happiness a complex affair to understand involves the fact that there are a large number of ways to measure it. That can also make the definition very slippery to pin down. But the good news in an attempt to raise levels of happiness are two factors: one is that human beings are very adaptable to circumstances and adjusting their feelings about them, and the other is that there are common ways that people employ to become happier.

A Few Things Known To Affect Happiness

These factors affect happiness for the better.

  • A sense of control
  • A sense of meaning
  • A sense of accomplishment
  • Experience of pleasure
  • Experiencing good health
  • Relationships with others
  • Having pets
  • Financial well being

Animal Lovers Are Happier

Hungarian horses
Source: Karpati Gabor

Hungarian horses

Vizsla, loyal, affectionate, and fearless is beloved by his owners
Source: Karpati Gabor

Vizsla, loyal, affectionate, and fearless is beloved by his owners


Magyar Heritage

Costume of Kalocsa region of Hungary

How happy are you?

Costume of Kalocsa region of Hungary Source: hajna OA Elit tagság

What Things Give Hungarians Happiness?


Hungarians love their pets.I’m sure you might find one that doesn’t, but overall, Hungarians love their animals. My uncle raised Puli’s and Komondor which are two sheep dog breeds (the Puli is a herding dog, and the Komondor is a guardian breed). Having a pet, especially a dog, helps people to feel happier and less depressed.

A young Puli, but where are his cords?
A young Puli, but where are his cords? Source: Karpati Gabor

Hungarians love music. In that, they fit right in with the rest of the world. When you listen to music that moves you emotionally, it releases the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain. The music and happiness relationship.

If you have a cultural heritage, chances are a certain kind of music moves your emotions, it might be certain instruments and their use in important events, or classical music. Perhaps it is music of your generation, and certain songs remind you of good times. I always think of good times of my teenage years when I hear the Beach Boys songs.

Hungarians love color. It is a known fact that colors affect us emotionally. The Hungarian people often love bright colors, just take a look at the traditional Kalocsai designs that are painted on every imaginable surface in the homes and embroidered fabrics.

I know that color impacts me, and there are times when walking into a room decorated in colors I love just helps to lift my mood. Almost as good as a sunny day!

Hungarians love good food and good company. Yes, I know we have to be careful here, because we don’t want to confuse eating for emotional reasons with the kind of lift that certain foods, and a healthy meal shared with loved ones, can provide. Still, looking at it from its best side, we all have what we call comfort food, and often that is linked with those foods and flavors we grew up with in our families.

For me, comfort food would include Chicken Paprikash, Stuffed Cabbage, and Poppy Seed or Nut Rolls. Mmmm, I feel better just thinking about those favorite Hungarian foods.

Foods that boost your feeling of well being and happiness are foods with plenty of nutrients. Vitamin D and B, foods with omega-3 fatty acids are good for your brain and your health.

Combining meals with the addition of good relationships, and meaningful times together is the reason why our happiness levels are improved with pleasant family meals and times with friends that center around sharing food together.

Just don’t ruin it by getting stressed about the inconsequential details.

What Makes Your Family’s Idea Of Good Times?

Consider the music, foods, and holidays of your own heritage. Take time to assemble as a family, whether it is for mealtimes or the Fourth of July. Take time to engage in healthy eating and exercise. Take control of your life and your finances.

There are many things that contribute to well being and happiness, I hope these tips from the point of view of my Hungarian background have inspired you to take a few of your own traditions and maximize the time and focus on what matters to you and your family. You might find that together you can raise the bar on happiness for all.

Egeszsegedre (cheers!)

The Essential Guide to Being Hungarian: 50 Facts and Facets of Nationhood
The Essential Guide to Being Hungarian: 50 Facts and Facets of Nationhood

About Happiness

How Many Hungarians Read This?

Hungarians have a long relationship with horses
Hungarians have a long relationship with horses Source: Public Domain
Have you tried this cream? Do you like it?

Pretty, Haunting Melody

What About Hungarians?

© 2013 Ilona

Mamas Hungarian Cooking: Lemon Kossuth Cookies

Hungarian Kifli

Kifli simply means “crescent” and there are many types of this form of baked good. Rolls, cookies, filled pastry cookies, all called “Kifli” …the shape is about the most that they have in common. The crescent shape commemorates when the Bakers of Budapest foiled the impending attack of Turks by sounding an alarm in their early pre-dawn working hours.

I have several kifli cookie recipes I like to bake, but this one is my mother’s very favorite. It is a light, lemon-nuanced cake, with lots of air incorporated into them. I think one of the things my mother liked so well was how easy it was to whip up a batch for appreciative members of the family.

General Louis Kossuth was a revered hero, and like many things in Hungary, this cookie was named in his honor. Reputed to have been his favorite, as well as my mom’s.

What The Lemon Zest Adds

American cooks of my mother’s generation loved to use extracts, and lemon extract does give a good flavor as well as being one of the few natural flavors of this kind of flavoring. Real lemon zest, the scrapings of the yellow pell of the fruit give more.

If you have a tools that scrapes the shreds of the rind without the bitter white pith, it will add oils that are redolent of fresh lemon and give depth to the taste of the cookie.

Don’t skimp on the Lemon Zest!

 Source: L.Krisztina
Source: L.Krisztina

Cook Time

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: two dozen


  • 8 egg yolks
  • 8 egg whites, beaten stiff
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 lemon rind, grated zest
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup walnuts, ground


  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, beat thoroughly after each. Add salt, lemon zest, (or other flavoring like vanilla), mix in.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together, add to egg mixture. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into greased and floured 12 by 18 inch pan. Sprinkle with ground nuts evenly over batter.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until done. Cut into crescent shapes with sugared drinking glass or crescent cookie cutter. (You could also score into diamond shapes). When completely cooled, sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Ground Walnuts

Adding the nuts will give depth to flavor and add to the nutrition value. Only those with allergies should forego this dessert. The rest of us can enjoy a quick treat.

Another Type Of Hungarian Kifli

Remember, there are lots of types of Kifli. The Kossuth lemon cookies are among the easiest, and have a wide range of appeal for any season of the year.

Variations On Kossuth Cookies

I think the lemon flavor is the best way to enjoy these treats, but if you wish to vary them, there are traditional recipes which have cocoa or vanilla added instead of the lemon zest. I’ve also seen a variation with cinnamon sugar, as well.

Whip up a batch next time you want something special for guests, or for a quick family dessert.

© 2013 Ilona

These Items Will Be Handy For Baking In Your Kitchen

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker's Half Sheet

Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Baker’s Half Sheet

This is the perfect size for family use. A jelly roll pan that combines the heat conductive properties, easy cleaning, and never rust characteristic of aluminum. I use this pan for all sorts of things, from baking cookies to heating up sweet potato fries. The brand is one I’ve learned to trust, I also own a Nordic Ware bundt pan that has lasted me more than twenty years.

Grated Lemon Zest for Flavor

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater

Microplane 40020 Classic Zester/Grater

High quality cooking tool with 18/8 stainless steel with grating edges. I love that it has a handle, which saves your fingers. I need to have lemon zest for baked goods and some entrees, and it adds a pretty garnish, too.

Grab this for ginger or hard cheeses, also; it will prove itself useful.