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Geisha Girl Costume Ideas

Sheetal Mandora Mar 9, 2020
Dressing up as an elegant geisha is a fantastic idea, but that would need more than just renting costumes and donning makeup. This Halloween, discover costume ideas for dressing up as a geisha girl with this story.

Is it a costume, or a culture?

Grabbing attention nationwide (in 2011), the students of Ohio University started a "We're a Culture, Not a Costume" campaign that changed people's approach about impersonating a certain ethnic stereotype for fun.
A traditional Japanese female entertainer, a geisha is a hostess who is taught the art of classical music, dance, and conversation from a very young age.
However, with the modern labor laws into action, a girl cannot become a maiko or apprentice to become a geisha until she reaches eighteen years of age; except for a city in Japan named Kyoto where girls as young as fifteen can become a full-time apprentice.
In western cultures, the word geisha literally translates as "artist". Here's some essential information you could use to look like a flawless geisha this Halloween.

Geisha Costume Styles

There are four essential components to the costume―a kimono, an obi, the hair and makeup, and the footwear. With each element playing a specific part, the costume is deemed incomplete if either of these components are absent. As you go through the article, you will find specific information about all of them.
For many of you, wearing an authentic geisha dress will mean a trip to the costume store. However, if you do have access or know someone who owns an authentic kimono, the task becomes a bit simpler. Here are 11 formal and informal ways you can dress as a geisha.
Now that you have an idea as to what a geisha costume consists of, we would like to shed some light on a geisha's appearance as well.

Appearance of a Geisha

You can either be a geisha or a maiko (apprentice geisha) for Halloween. And to help you get the appearance to the tee, we have tried to explain the different aspects of a geisha. From hair and makeup to the attire, a geisha is much more than a beautiful artist.

HAIR & MAKEUP

Similar to a chignon, the traditional hairstyle for a geisha is known as shimada. Furthermore, there are three different types of shimada hairstyles worn by a geisha:
  1. Taka shimada - a high chignon
  2. Tsubushi shimada - a slightly flat chignon
  3. Uiwata - chignon tied with a colorful cotton fabric
Whereas a maiko will tie her hair in a style known as momoware that looks like a split peach.
There are two simple options when it comes to styling your hair. The first option is to purchase a black wig (which usually comes with the costume). And the second option is to style your hair into a loose bun or your favorite chignon hairstyle; this looks better only if you have black hair.
You can either purchase the geisha makeup kit or use your own makeup. If you're doing your own kit, remember to apply white to very pale foundation all over your face, neck, and back. For the eyes, use a black pencil and liquid eyeliner along with black mascara. And to finish the look, bright red lip liner with lipstick will do the trick.

KIMONO

Geisha Kimono

There are various types of kimono which are required to be worn at specific occasions―for married and unmarried women, brides, geisha, and at tea ceremonies, weddings, formal parties, mourning, and stage performance.
As every occasion has a specific kimono, for a geisha, the traditional garment is known as susohiki ; which translates to "trail the skirt".

Maiko Kimono

A traditional kimono is usually made with either silk, silk brocade, silk crepes, or satin, and can cost you hundreds of dollars. But since you'll be wearing the costume for a night, search for vibrant and colorful floor-length kimonos made with less-expensive fabric like cotton, polyester, and rayon at thrift stores and vintage stores.

OBI

Darari

Taiko Musubi

Accompanying the kimono, geishas wear a bright-colored sash which is known as obi. The color, designs, and patterns available on the obi are simply marvelous. Now there are a few different ways one can wear the obi―depending on the woman's status.
The taiko musubi  is tied mostly by married women and the geisha from Kyoto. On the other hand, the maiko from Kyoto usually tie the obi in a style which is known as darari.

FOOTWEAR

Okobo

Zōri

Geisha wear flat-soled sandals known as Zōri  when they head out the door. When inside the house, they only wear tabi―a pair of white split-toed socks. When the weather is forgiving, they wear wooden clogs known as geta. On the other hand, a maiko wears a pair of wooden clogs known as okobo. Depending on what your outfit is, you can choose to wear either footwear.
The duty of a geisha is to showcase perfection, and that's why they go through years of strict training and hard work to reach such an acclaimed position. So, in order to impersonate perfection, you will have to embody a geisha's essence through your costume as well.