As soon as you hear the phrase, harem costumes, the images that come to mind are Princess Jasmine from Aladdin, Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie, and an exotic belly dancer. In their billowing pants in beautiful, pastel hues, accessorized with jewelry to die for, these women are epitomes of femininity. A harem, traditionally refers to the sanctuary where women reside. Entry to a harem was forbidden for men. Over time, the term took on a more lewd meaning, and would refer to the group of wives or concubines of high ranking officials. Though the concept was frowned upon by Puritans, the clothes worn by the women in these harems caught the eye of the Western countries in the early 20th century. Harem costume, especially the pants, became a popular clothing item for women, who lived a bohemian lifestyle.
Harem costumes, today, are very popular for parties. These costumes are very similar to those worn by belly dancers and gypsy women. The look is more or less the same except for a difference in the footwear worn and the colors chosen for the costumes.
There are some features that are synonymous with harem dresses. These include the harem pants, the heavily embellished brassiere or bustier top, sheer veils, scarfs, and jewelry. The pants are generally made of a sheer material and the bustier top is heavily embroidered or embellished. It may also be covered by a sheer cloth. Accessories include bangles, earrings, bracelets, anklets, etc.
Harem pants, traditionally a belly dance costume, is loose in order to allow the dancer easy movement. Also, since a lot of fabric is used to make the garment, it falls smoothly when gathered at the ankle. The pants can be worn either as it is, or under a skirt. If you are confident of carrying it off, you can opt for the pants that have slits running along the sides.
Most belly dancers tend to wear bustier tops that are heavily embellished with sequins and gemstones of colors that contrast with the color of the bustier. You could also opt for a wrap top that ties at the center of the midriff. These tops are easily available at any costume store. You could also take a sheer piece of cloth in a similar color and wear it as a veil covering the face showing off only the eyes. If you do so, do highlight your eyes with proper makeup. Opt to wear a lot of kohl and eyeliner. Also, wear long, dangling earrings, an anklet with gold overtones, bracelets, and bangles. Wear knit shoes that have a rounded point to complete your look.
Making These Costumes at Home
While these costumes can be easily rented, you could also opt to make one at home. If you decide to do so, then your most important assignment would be to make the harem pants. For that, you first need to decide on a bikini top that you can modify to create your harem costume top. This is because, you will need to choose the fabric for the pants depending on the color of the bustier. Once you have decided on the bikini top, embellish it as you deem fit. Next, select the fabric for the harem pants. Choose from fabrics like chiffon, Georgette, etc. You will also need to buy a pair of pants in the same color, in a size that is 2 sizes bigger for you. These pants should be made of a lightweight fabric. Now, follow the steps given below to make the pants.
- First, wear the pants that you have bought. Now, tuck at the waist so that the pants fit you properly, and gather the pants at the ankle and sew it.
- Now, measure your waist depending on how high or low you want to wear your costume pants.
- Next, measure the length from the waistline till the floor. This will be the length for the fabric. Also, take measurements for the thigh and hip.
- According to the measurements that you have, make the pattern on a paper, adding 6-12 inches for billowing pants. To the pattern, add 2 inches to the measurement of the ankle, and one and a half inches to the hip measurement.
- Now carefully, cut the fabric according to the measurements that you have. Sew the fabric on to the pants that you have bought and modified. If you want to ensure that the harem pants fit perfectly, use an elastic fastener at the waist.
This is how easy it is to make your costume pants. You can cut out a piece of the fabric that you have used for the pants to make a veil. Now, just accessorize properly, and you are set to attend the belly dancing session or harem costume party that you have been waiting for.