For your next costume party, consider taking inspiration from the images and traditions of the Orient. It's relatively easy to create your own costume based on some of the traditional figures that populate the history and heritage of Asian countries. Whether you're designing a fun and wearable costume for a child or something more adult for yourself, there are plenty of options for every budget and every level of artistic expertise.
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Dress yourself or your child up as a samurai using simple, inexpensive materials. For the main bodice, use corrugated cardboard, tearing off one of its faces to expose the ribbed inner surface. You can use decorative fabrics or papers as accents. Look to samurai films and photographs to create a simple design that looks like the traditional samurai's suit of armour. Depending on the materials you use for accents, you may be able to make the entire costume out of used materials, transforming you from a classic samurai into a real recycling warrior.
To create a geisha costume, begin by finding a kimono-style bathrobe. If you don't have one of your own, comb through second-hand shops or discount shops to find something silky, preferably with an Asian-inspired print. Use silky fabric in a contrasting colour to tie the kimono around your waist; the effect should be like a cummerbund or a very broad belt. With someone else's help, tie the belt into a large, loose bow at your back. The key to the geisha look is the stark make-up and hair. If you have long, dark hair, use hairspray or pins to fasten it into a large, neat bun or coil at the crown of your head. If you have short or fair hair, invest in a costume geisha wig. Paint your face white and apply deep red lipstick, making your lips appear narrower than they really are.
A ninja costume is among the simplest of your Oriental options. Wear black sweat pants and a black long-sleeved shirt. For a splash of showy colour, tie a length of colourful fabric around your waist as a sash. Take a black long-sleeved T-shirt and begin to put it on over your head, stopping when just your face is peeking through. Gently tie the sleeves at the back of your head.
An extravagant costume for the artistically inclined, a Chinese lion makes a showstopping outfit. Use paper mache to model a mask in the shape of the wide-mouthed Chinese lion used in traditional New Year's celebrations. Paint the mask in gold, yellow and other bright colours. Take inspiration from photographs of Chinese New Year celebrations from around the world. Wear simple clothing that extends the colour scheme.
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