This blog post is the first in a special series for the month of October dedicated to Halloween costume ideas. I will be looking at great royal women throughout history as inspiration. For this first post, I considered writing about Cleopatra or Nefertiti specifically. But as I searched around I found this magnificent beadnet dress that is currently being held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and I was inspired by it. It is one of the earliest surviving examples of this type of bead work. Here are some pictures:
Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, reign of Khufu
According to the museum’s description of the dress “Depictions of women in Egyptian art occasionally feature garments decorated with an overall lozenge pattern. This design is believed to represent beadwork, which was either sewn onto a linen dress or worked into a separate net worn over the linen. This beadnet dress is the earliest surviving example of such a garment. It has been painstakingly reassembled from approximately seven thousand beads found in an undisturbed burial of a female contemporary of King Khufu. Although their string had disintegrated, a few beads still lay in their original pattern on and around the mummy, permitting an accurate reconstruction. The color of the beads has faded, but the beadnet was originally blue and blue green in imitation of lapis lazuli and turquoise.”
So if someone wanted to dress like an ancient Egyptian for Halloween I think that the most important aspect of the costume would be the jewelry. Specifically, beaded jewelry with turquoise and lapis lazuli. This piece of costume jewelry is $16 dollars and would look great if you paired it with a simple long white dress.
This bracelet is also meant to be worn with a costume. The scorpion is really cool and it’s only $5!
When I was a little girl I dressed as Cleopatra for Halloween once and I remember having a beaded headdress for my hair and it was my favorite part of the costume. This one for $9.95 is pretty.
Another really important part of the Ancient Egyptian costume is a snake armband. This arm cuff was originally $99 but is on sale for $5.99. That’s quite a steal if you ask me!
One thing that I find really difficult about Halloween costume shopping is how many “sexy” costumes are for sale. A Cleopatra or Nefertiti costume is no exception with many of the costumes I have seen being made of see-through gauze or having revealing necklines and short skirts. These two costumes are age appropriate for little girls. This one has a cool blue cape and costs $24.17.
I also think this costume is really pretty for a little girl. I like the red details. It’s $47.
Like I said, the plethora of “sexy” costumes on sale for Halloween makes it difficult to find a modest costume. Most Cleopatra costumes for women look more like belly dancer outfits with bare midriffs or big cut outs on the sides of the dress to make it look ‘sexy’. This costume is the adult version of the first child’s costume I posted. It can cost anywhere from $23-$68 depending on the size you choose but the reason why I am posting it is because it is one of the few Cleopatra costumes I found that come in X-small to XX-Large so there are more size options available.
Egyptian Inspired Fashion
The neat thing about this Fall season is that turquoise jewelry happens to be very fashionable so you do not necessarily have to buy costume jewelry that you will only wear once. You can buy some pieces for your costume that you can wear again and again. Take for example this multi strand turquoise necklace. It would look good with a simple white Cleopatra dress. It’s $22 and would also look cool with a nice warm sweater and jeans.
I also really like this beaded fringe statement necklace for $18.99. It could work for an ancient Egyptian costume or maybe a cowgirl costume since it has a southwestern feel to it.
But I think by far one of the coolest discoveries I made for this post is the awesome snake jewelry by Betsey Johnson that is really ‘in’ this fall. These pieces are not meant for a costume but it could work well with one. I think these snake bangles are so neat!
Especially this gold bangle. I think Betsey Johnson’s designs are so hip and young.
She also made necklaces with a snake motif. Anytime I think of Cleopatra’s iconic look I naturally think of snake jewelry. This necklace was $95 but is on sale for $45.
But I think maybe these earrings are my favorite. I have been wearing hoop earrings all summer and these have a simple, understated snake pattern. For $38 I think that they would be great for a Cleopatra costume OR to buy and put away as a Christmas gift for someone who likes Betsey Johnson designs.
One thing about an Egyptian/Cleopatra/Nefertiti costume is that you want to wear the right shoes to complete the costume but you may not want to buy a pair of costume shoes to only wear once. These gladiator style shoes would work with this costume for a Halloween party but then they can be put away for Spring/Summer and worn when it is warmer out. I like gladiators and I think they’re sexy, especially if you have a nice pedicure. These are made by Ollio and are $18-$25 depending on what size you get.
And don’t forget to finish your look with a cute toe ring! I think this swirl-y ring would match well with the snake armband and it adds a cute detail to your costume. It’s 14k gold filled, adjustable, and $10.50.
I would recommend using liquid eyeliner to achieve the cat’s eye makeup look that is required for the Cleopatra costume. I recommend Vasanti liquid eye liner in “Cleopatra-Intense Black”.
Although it is certainly not the most historically accurate movie, for the purposes of makeup reference I would recommend looking at Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra,” a film which remains the most expensive movie of all time. Even if it wasn’t historically accurate Elizabeth looked beautiful in this film.
So the way you would apply this make up is by using a dark make-up palette, with golds, blues, or dark grays and then lining your eyes with the liquid liner. Liquid liner needs a steady hand so you may want to line your eyes with a pencil first and then trace over it with the liquid liner. Sometimes it is easier that way.
MAC makeup is the best when it comes to costume makeup. Actors wear MAC especially if they are doing theater work since it stays on better under bright lights and won’t melt off as easily. I recommend “Moon’s Reflection” if you want to replicate Elizabeth Taylor’s eye makeup in the picture above. It’s normally $15 but you can find it here for $9.99.
But don’t forget to use primer on your eyelids first. It prevents your eye shadow from creasing. Most makeup artists agree that Urban Decay’s primer is one of the very best in the world. It’s expensive but it is something you can continue to use throughout the holidays. There are a lot of holiday, Christmas, and New Years parties and lots of pictures to take so I really recommend a good primer for that. It makes your makeup stay on longer and look perfect for all of the pictures you take during the holiday season.
I hope you enjoyed this first Halloween inspired post. In the next few weeks I will write posts inspired by other historical royal ladies including Anne Boleyn, Queen Victoria, and more.
The Frugal Lady