Monday, September 27, 2010

Tips for Newbies: Halloween Geisha Costumes

If you're thinking of doing a geisha outfit this year for Halloween and are new to geisha or kimono, here are a few of the biggest mistakes newbies tend to make and mass-produced costumes tend to feature.

I'm not going for the strict, hardcore "OMG your seasonal kanzashi hair ornament is for APRIL, not MARCH!" level of critque, but rather eliminating the common elements of the ubiquitous and borderline offensive "geisha girl" costume to make it closer to reality.

1. Chopsticks in the hair - Japanese people don't wear chopsticks in their hair, nor do they wear ornaments in the giant X pattern you seem to see on a lot of the lower quality costumes.

2. Random multiple buns of hair piled on the head (you've seen this wig, you know you have!) - Honestly, the actual wig geisha wear is a complicated piece of work, but it definitely doesn't resemble a human-hair snowman. Aim for one higher-placed bun toward the back of your head and leave it at that.

3. Cheongsam - The cute satin dresses with slits up the side, high collars, and usually a diagonal line of buttons across the chest are Chinese, not Japanese. Wearing one with whiteface and calling it a geisha costume gives the impression you don't know or don't care that China and Japan are two very separate and very distinct countries and cultures.

4. Bad "geisha" makeup - Quarterback-heavy black eyeliner, defined red circles on the cheeks, or even kanji (characters) written on the face are not flattering on just about anyone or in the right ballpark for geisha. If you do whiteface, skip the grease paint red circles and instead apply a simple subtle pink blush on your cheeks, as you would do with your normal make-up, over the whiteface, and apply a bit to your eyes as well. Keep the eyeliner thin, just enough to define your eyes. For lips, red done in a smaller pout than usual is good but don't make the red, for example, only a half-inch across.

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