How to Create a Fortuneteller Costume

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Fortuneteller costumes are colorful and exotic.
Fortuneteller costumes are colorful and exotic. (Image: petesaloutos/iStock/Getty Images)

Dressing up as a fortuneteller provides the opportunity to use your ingenuity to create an exotic look from thrift-store finds along with basics from your wardrobe. Inspired by peasant garb with 19th-century gypsy, romantic and bohemian influences, the look features gathered skirts, puffy-sleeved blouses, bright, jewel-toned colors, gold jewelry and fringe. You can adapt the look to menswear or scale it down for kids, so the whole family appears in coordinating outfits. You'll look so authentic, you may be asked to tell fortunes. Keep your "readings" lighthearted and emphasize the positive.

Things You'll Need

  • Gathered long skirt and coordinating blouse or tunic
  • Sandals, flats or knee-high boots
  • Belt or fringed waist sash
  • Shawl (optional)
  • Eye makeup, blusher and lipstick
  • Assorted scarves -- square and rectangular
  • Jewelry -- rings, bangle bracelets, earrings and a chunky necklace
  • Crystal ball, tarot cards, dowsing rod or pendulum (optional)
  • Pants and buccaneer shirt
  • Belt or sash
  • Belt pouch
  • Scarf, square or rectangular
  • Men's jewelry -- rings, wrist cuff and pendant necklace
  • Cape or robe (optional)

Women's Costume

Select a long, gathered skirt in a bright pattern and pair it with a coordinating loose blouse or tunic. A skirt in a bright paisley, tribal or floral print goes with a peasant blouse in a jewel tone such as deep purple, sapphire blue, emerald green or ruby red. Or, top a tie-dye skirt with a bell-sleeved tunic that picks up one of the tie-dye colors. For footwear, wear strappy, low-heeled sandals or knee-high boots. Alternately, wear black flats with black stockings or tights. If you wear boots, make sure the skirt reaches mid-calf or is long enough that the hem covers the top of the boots.

Tie a wide, leather belt or fringed scarf as a sash around your waist to emphasize the skirt gathers. If it's long enough, let the blouse or tunic fall over the top of the skirt and cinch it with the belt or scarf. You can also drape a fringed shawl over your shoulders, if desired.

Apply makeup, if desired. Aim for a casual, yet exotic look with smoky cat eyes. Let your eye shadow, eyeliner and mascara flare at the outer corner of your eyes. Add just enough color with cheek blush and lipstick to balance your facial appearance with the rich color of your outfit.

Style your hair so that it's full and curly at the ends with a slightly messy look. For example, you can braid long, wet hair and let it dry; then undo the braids and finger-fluff the resulting waves. It's not necessary to add volume to the top of your hair because you'll be wearing a scarf over it. If you have short hair, you can wear extensions or a costume wig or plan to cover your hair completely with a scarf or turban.

Drape a lightweight scarf over your head like a veil, or wear it as a kerchief or turban on the crown of your head. For example, fold a square scarf on the diagonal, place the center of the scarf low on your forehead; bring the ends back to the nape of your neck and tie it with the scarf's center point underneath the knot. Tie a rectangular scarf in a similar fashion and let the ends hang down your back or over your shoulder. To make a simple turban, center a long, rectangular scarf on the your forehead; bring the ends to the back of your head and tie them. Twist the ends; bring them to the front; twist the ends again once around each other, and tuck them in at the sides.

Deck yourself with shiny gold and faux-gemstone jewelry. Stack several bangle bracelets on each wrist, mixing bright gold and bejeweled styles. Choose large, dangling earrings, such as chandeliers or big gold hoops. Pile on some gold chains and chunky beaded or gold-coin necklaces. Add a few rings to each hand, if desired, keeping with the beaded and shiny gold themes.

Accessorize by carrying one of the tools of the fortuneteller's trade, such as a crystal ball, deck of tarot cards, or dowsing pendulum. Since real crystal balls are expensive items, you can substitute with a snow globe or make your own by decorating a clear, plastic Christmas globe or Styrofoam ball with glitter and sparkle. Carry it, along with your necessities, in a colorful fabric bag or pouch with a long strap that you wear over your shoulder and across your body.

Men's Costume

Wear dark pants and low-heeled boots with a buccaneer shirt with gathered sleeves and a yoke with a split neckline and simple collar. Add a dark vest over the shirt and tie on a fringed waist sash in a color such as burgundy or purple. If you prefer a belt instead of a sash, choose one in wide, soft leather with a substantial buckle. Attach a fabric or leather pouch to your belt or sash knot to carry your fortuneteller's tools.

Tie a folded, square scarf over the crown of your head, or make a long rectangular scarf into a turban.

Add masculine jewelry, such as a metal or leather wrist cuff, a pendant necklace with a chunky crystal or stone circle, and decorative rings on each hand.

Layer a cape or open-front robe with flowing sleeves over your costume, if desired, to gain the look of mystical authority. This can be further enhanced with fabrics embroidered or patterned with stars and other mystical symbols. Choose colors such as a purple, deep blue or red -- instead of black -- to avoid the vampire look.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't be afraid to mix colors and patterns, especially for women's costumes. For example, a paisley skirt and a floral shawl work over a plain blouse in a color common to the skirt and shawl. The headscarf can be another solid color with gold embroidery or trim.
  • Many items in the fortuneteller costume are easy to make with basic crafting skills.
  • For example:
  • * A plain skirt can be tie-dyed if it's a light color, or embellished with bands of ribbon, fringe and gold braid for a darker color. Attach the trims with fabric glue or by hand-stitching.
  • * If you sew, commercial patterns are readily available for fortuneteller or gypsy costume components.
  • * String inexpensive, chunky gold beads on a leather or cotton cord, then tie the cord so the necklace is long enough to slip over your head. For a bracelet, string the beads on elastic cord to fit your wrist. Tie the elastic tightly and secure the knot with a dab of clear nail polish.
  • * Add gold lace or trim to a plain scarf, positioning it so the design is centered over your forehead when you tie the scarf.

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