How to make a Carmen Miranda costume

Written by andrew latham | 13/05/2017
How to make a Carmen Miranda costume
Choose tropical looking fruit for your Carmen Miranda fruit hat. (Getty creative)

Carmen Miranda was a popular film star, Broadway actress and samba singer of the 1940s and 1950s. Her salacious outfits and fruity hats made her an icon of tropical music and dancing. Even though many people today don't know who Carmen Miranda was, the Carmen Miranda costumes with their frilly dresses and fruit-heavy hats are still popular at fancy dress and Halloween parties. Incidentally, Carmen Miranda wore the fruit-festooned hat she is so famous for in the movie The Gang's All Here. Of course, you can buy a Carmen Miranda costume at many costume shops, but if you want to save money or simply have some extra fun before the party, you can make your own.

Buy fabric with a tropical theme print. You can also deconstruct an old dress or sew together pieces of brightly coloured fabric to make your own tropical style. Allow for enough fabric for a wraparound top, a flowing skirt and a headdress.

Cut your tropical print fabric to the length you want and attach it to the waist of an old short skirt to save time. Don't be afraid to combine colours and fabrics because there is no official Carmen Miranda costume. In any case, she was famous for breaking rules and conventions and blending styles and genres.

Wrap a section of tropical fabric around your chest and torso and tie it into a front-flowing bow. Cut two smaller pieces and sew them into two puffy arm bands.

Glue pieces of fruit to a wide-brimmed hat along with as many feathers as you want. Wrap the headdress around your head and fix it all in place with your fruity hat. Carmen Miranda started out as a hatmaker, so give this feature of your costume some special time and attention.

Choose a pair of brightly-coloured, high-heeled shoes. Add generous amounts of jewelery, bracelets and earrings to finish off the tropical look.

Things you need

  • Tropical print material
  • Sewing machine
  • Fruit
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Feathers
  • Hot glue
  • Earrings
  • Bracelets

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