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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ideas for Cinco de Mayo Costumes and Costume Accessories- Let the fiesta begin!

Cinco de Mayo, the beloved Mexican holiday is almost here! With parades and parties abound, it is often considered to be the St. Patrick's Day of Mexicans. The day is celebrated with lots of vigor by the Hispanic population and of course by me, no surprises there! I mean, what is there no to like? Plenty of drinking going on, colorful parades everywhere, food stalls selling delicious Mexican food and beautiful women doing their traditional dances, the festival is truly one of a kind. While I was not aware of the origins of Cinco de Mayo, I did do some research prior to writing this article. Okay, I just read the Wikipedia article, I am laziness impaired! The whole Mexican army defeating the larger French forces at the Battle of Puebla is pretty awe-inspiring.  Unfortunately, the historical origins have been forgotten and the day is really about the celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Not that there is any wrong with it.

Whether taking part in a parade (and kudos if you're) or going for a costume party, you will need some kick-ass costumes to make you stand out from the herd. Considering that Cinco de Mayo is most popular among Mexicans and Latinos, any clothes with Spanish tones will work. The outfits need to boast of some sort of Spanish connection, be it movie characters or Spanish music or food. Let's take a look at the kind of costumes you can go for.

Adult Cinco de Mayo Costumes

Flowing Mexican Fiesta Dresses, ponchos and movie character inspired outfits, there are a variety of looks to go for, this coming Cinco de Mayo. For women, it is the perfect opportunity to go for bright, flowing dresses that accentuate your curves. Mexican fashion is all about seduction and opulence, there is no place for subtlety. For men, there are Mexican ponchos and capes to go for. Arguably the costumes for men are less glamorous than those of the women but then they're low- maintenance, something that I am sure the men would appreciate!

Glamorous and seductive, that is the motto to go for ladies. Cinco de Mayo is all about bright colored dresses, cool hats and edgy designs. Take a look at some of these popular costumes for women:

The first costume is obviously inspired by the most popular Mexican hero of the movie, book and novel series, Zorro. This costume is fierce and sexy and is perfect for any Cinco de Mayo celebration. Although ladies, be careful, such outfits are more suited to those that have toned midriffs to flaunt. For those women, who have better things to do than workout in a gym all day (my kind of gals!), there is no need to worry. Sexy Mexican Dresses with their flowing silhouettes tend to hide most of the human flaws. Moreover, they come in a variety of bold colors, so there is no compromise in the looks department.

Coming to the men's costumes, I would say that simplistic and practical is the mantra to follow. Considering that I myself don't like wearing over-the-top costumes, I won't recommend them as well. Check out these 2 costumes I found online:

A Zorro costume and a Mexican Poncho outfit. The Zorro costume is a great choice for any Cinco de Mayo celebration. After all, Zorro is the most popular and well-known Mexican fictional character. Moreover, the costume looks super stylish with its cool cape and belt (I should know, considering that I've worn one myself). On the other hand, if you prefer comic tones over sleek style, then something like a Mexican poncho is a safe bet. The Mexican poncho with the sombrero hat is a traditional costume and can be made into a funny costume if you add a big moustache to the look. It is kinda perpetuating stereotype but hey, one can be sporty about it and not end up offending anyone.

Cinco de Mayo Kids Costumes

Like any other festive holiday, Cinco de Mayo should also be celebrated with family. Make your kids part of the celebrations and I can assure you that you will enjoy more and so will your kids (no kid likes to be stuck with a nanny, period!). You can choose from a range of child costumes available online and most of them are pretty cheap, so no need to worry about spending too much on something that your kid would probably wear once or twice only.

When picking something for your little girl, remember that the prettier and dazzling it is, the better it is. Red, pink and black are the colors to go for. Take a look at this outfit:

A Spanish dancer costume with its frilly skirt and ruffled accessories is something that you really can’t go wrong with. Your little girl would absolutely love such an outfit.

If your little girl is tomboyish and one who is not for frilly dresses, then a simple top and pants is the way to go. Once again, bright and fun colors should be the norm. Take a look at this unique Matador costume for girls:
First of all Matadors were historically, always men. So, I think it sends across a good message of universal equality if you allow your little girl to dress up as one. Secondly, the entire look is perfect, right from the cape, the printed top to the hair accessories. This is the ensemble you should most definitely be putting together for the apple of your eye!

Now, I haven't forgotten the boys. Considering the costumes that I have recommended for the adults, it should come across as no surprise when I pick Zorro for the boys. I mean, as a popular TV and Movie character and comic book superhero, is there any question that young boys find him appealing. In fact, both father and son can go for the parades dressed up as Zorro. Nothing makes father-son bond stronger than dressing up in similar costumes, that too as masked heroes! Check out this costume:

Identical to the adult version, this kid costume with its cool belt, cape and mask would definitely appeal to your little boy.

Cinco de Mayo Costume Accessories

Lace fans, sombrero hats, costume jewelry and what not? When it comes to Cinco de Mayo, there are a lot of accessories to choose from. Depending upon the outfit you have chosen, you can accessorize it accordingly.

For all the women going for luxurious Mexican Dresses, a lace fan is the ultimate accessory. I mean, not only does it do what a fan is supposed to do, that is keep you cool (although some hand exercise is involved), it adds a touch of elegance to your entire costume ensemble. You can go for a variety of colors:

I would say, go for black as the dresses I have recommended for the Cinco de Mayo celebrations are all bold and dark colored. You do not want your fan to clash with your outfit now, do you?

Mexican sombrero hats are the quintessential costume accessories, when it comes to Cinco de Mayo celebrations. You can save your money and create one for yourself; simply read my previous article (here is the link). If your handicraft skills are a bit rusty or you couldn't be bothered, simply buy one.

Don't go for flamboyant colors when picking the hat. A simple dull color like black or brown works best. You can go for one with some beautiful intricate embroidery, like the one shown in the picture.

Fiesta Bead Necklaces are an absolute must if you're going anywhere near a parade procession. I for one, love throwing bead necklaces from the top of a float (okay, I did it only once but it still counts). In shades of red, purple and gold, these necklaces reflect the party mood and they're pretty cheap, so no tears have to be shed when you invariably can't find them after the parade.

More the number of necklaces, the better it is. Go for small lightweight ones, so that no one is likely to get injured when you throw them around!

I declare you ready to start your Cinco de Mayo shopping. You have my blessings children, go forth and try to find good costumes for yourselves and your loved ones. Okkk, that was way preachy; my grandfather was a priest so it slips out from time to time. Anyways, you now have a general idea on the kind of costumes and accessories to go for. I wish you luck in your costume endeavors and hope you've lots of fun this coming Cinco de Mayo (I know I will!).

Monday, 8 April 2013

How to make a Mexican Sombrero Hat for the upcoming Cinco de Mayo celebrations!

Cinco de Mayo, that amazing amazing holiday where I pretend to be all Mexican (much to the amusement of my real Mexican friends) is coming up. In recent years, the holiday has become so huge that I sometimes wonder, whether it is a grander affair here in the US than in Mexico, its birthplace. While I have a vague idea about the historical origins (ok I just read the Wikipedia article, sue me!), the whole Battle of Puebla with the triumphant win of the Mexican army over the French forces has faded from public memory and the day is more about the numerous parties and parades showcasing Mexican culture. Not that there is anything wrong with this! It gives an opportunity to Hispanics to showcase their rich cultural heritage and it offers others like me to immerse myself in the experience. More than the aforementioned immersion, the thing I most look forward to is getting drunk and partying, all the while dressed in some Mexican costume! What? Blame this one on America's need to make every holiday like St. Patrick's Day!

Before I digress any further, let me rein in my enthusiasm and come to the point for which I am writing this article. I want to teach you how to make your very own Mexican Sombrero. You know that cool large hat that is great for protecting against the sun, yup that one. It is great for any Cinco de Mayo parade or costume party. In case you didn't want to go for a full costume, this sombrero is great for demonstrating your Mexican love. Simply wear it with your normal clothes; on any other day people would've thought you’re mental, but on Cinco de Mayo you would fit right in with the crowds!

I will be teaching you how to create a velvet sombrero hat instead of a normal straw one. I find these to be better looking and more comfortable as well. Let's take a look at the things you will need.

Materials required:

  1. Newspaper
  2. Painter's Tape
  3. White school glue
  4. Some spray adhesive
  5. Chosen Velvet
  6. Faux leather thread
  7. Scissors
  8. Embroidery needle (yes, some embroidery is involved)


1. Take 2 pages out of a newspaper. Spread them out, turning the top page so that its corners bisect the sides of the page below it. Lift both the papers carefully and place them on your head.

      2. Gently push and mold the papers down against the top of your head. Starting at the center of your forehead, wrap the tape tightly around the newspaper. This should produce a bowl shape, which is to be the crown of your hat (the crown is the portion of hat that fits your head).

3. Take off your hat and set it on a flat surface. Press done on the crown gently, so as to spread out the excess paper from the bottom of the crown. Fold up the edges of the excess paper to create a round sombrero brim. Tape the folds into place with some more painter's tape.

      4. Now, mix equal parts of white school glue and warm water in a small bowl. Paint the mixture all over the inside and outside of the paper hat to stiffen it and allow it to dry overnight.

      5. On the crown of your hat, spray some adhesive and attach a piece of stretchy velvet. Smooth and press the velvet down over the glued crown. Tie the velvet into place at the base of the crown with a piece of faux leather thread. Tie the thread into a decorative bow or let the ends hang against the brim of the hat. There should be still some velvet left to cover the brim of the hat.

      6. Lift the velvet that is present on the brim but is not glued to it. Spray the paper on the brim with some adhesive and press the velvet onto it. Smooth the velvet with your palms. Cut away the excess velvet around the edges of the brim, leaving about 1 1/2 inches of excess.

      7. Flip the hat over and cover the inside with velvet as you did the outside. Trim this piece of velvet right along the edges of the sombrero.

      8. Fold the extra fabric from the top of the sombrero down around the edge. Stitch it into place with faux leather thread and an embroidery needle using a whipstitch. The whipstitch should wrap around the edges of the sombrero.  And, that's it, you're done! The end result should look something like this:
       Remember the final result will depend on the fabric used. In this case, I've used a beautifully patterned red velvet fabric. As you can see, it is a bit smarter than your everyday sombrero. 

      Now, most of you will have a beautiful sombrero to show for all your efforts. An unlucky few will have a mutilated hat like thing and a messed up countertop to show, to go along with the less than pleasant thoughts about me swirling in their heads. To the former, I say good job and to the latter, relax and try again. If it doesn’t work out the second time, just buy the damn thing! (You should know by now, I've a sarcastic sense of humor). My next article is going to be about costumes and accessories for Cinco de Mayo, so keep a lookout for it. Till then, adios amigos!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Ideas for Easter Costumes and Costume Accessories- Basically everything to do with hares, rabbits, bunnies and any species lying in between!

It is that time of the year again; candy or chocolate filled Easter eggs, costume parties and parades abound (our country really has the best holidays!) Religious connotations aside, I do enjoy this holiday a lot, probably because all the children love it immensely. I once did host an Easter costume party for my nephew and it was a lot of fun seeing how much fun, him and all his friends were having. One of the reasons the party was a success was that, it was a costume party, the other being the hunt for the delicious chocolate eggs! Nevertheless, the importance of Easter costumes cannot be denied.

Like the color green is synonymous with any Mardi Gras celebration, the Easter Bunny is the one for all things Easter. From cute Easter Bunny outfits to costume accessories such as bunny ears, the list is endless. Be it adults or kids, Easter is one of those rare holidays that offers something for everyone. For myself, hosting a costume party for friends and family is the best thing about Easter. Even though with Easter, you technically get only 3 days off (Good Friday and Saturday including), the entire week leading up to the actual day is soo relaxed and jovial that it is like a mini-vacation in itself!

Before I digress any further, let me start by giving you some ideas on the kind of costumes you may want to go for. Be it for any parade or party, you can be sure that you will look good.

Adult Easter Costumes

While Easter may be targeted more at the kids, there is no reason why adults cannot join in, on the fun. Why not throw a nice party for all the grown-ups? If you're too attached to your kids (as you should be, my bad), then an exciting family picnic, boasting of activities such as egg rolling and egg hunting among others, would definitely set the party mood.

Beginning with the women first, it seems Sexy Elf has met her match in Sexy Easter Bunny! For some inexplicable reason, women prefer to go for sultry, come the Easter parties and parades. Hey, I am all for independent women expressing their sexuality and I doubt any of the menfolk have any complains about this trend! Take a look at some of these popular costumes:

Now out of these 3 costumes, the third one that is the 'magic bunny in the hat' is great for any Easter celebration that involves family. The other two are more risqué and should be reserved for celebrating with friends only. With that said, all 3 are fun and flirty and definitely great for an Easter costume party.

Leaving the sexy to the women is probably a safe bet for all men, myself included!  A simple rabbit or bunny costume is a great choice for any Easter party or parade. Check these out:

You can go for a proper Easter Bunny mascot costume, if you don't mind the stuffy feeling that one can get (not my cup of tea though). A simple open face, full body costume is a good alternative..I wore something like the rabbit costume shown above (3rd one), for my nephew's Easter party; needless to say I was a huge success...

Kids Easter Costumes

Easter holds a special place for all children, whatever age they may be. Similar to Christmas, the magic of a fairy creature (Easter Bunny duh!) is especially endearing to them. So, if you are lucky to have children, please do try and make this holiday an eventful and memorable one for them. A good way to do this is by throwing them a super bash, where everybody is in costume and enjoying all the egg hunting, egg rolling and other eggy activities; we do love those eggs a lot!

Considering how Easter is targeted at kids, there really is no dearth of good kid costumes, which are pretty cheap as well. Cute bunny dresses for little girls are a huge hit among both kids and mommies. Take a look at this one:

Pretty in pink and appropriately fluffy, this bunny dress is definitely a good catch. You can look for such dresses, which come in all sorts of variety.

Little boys are easy just like their dads lol, they don't care for looking 'pretty'. Now, I am not hating on the female gender, just merely stating the difference in preference between the 2 sexes. Boys just want to have fun (Take that Cyndi Lauper!) and prefer to go for simpler outfits. Take a look at this basic Easter Bunny costume:

White with just the right amounts of pink, this open-face Bunny Suit is pretty low-maintenance, great for all those egg filled activities (am thinking egg rolling)..Such costumes can even be worn by girls, so if you don’t want to discriminate between siblings and create some jealousy, suits are the way to go!

Ok, now I didn't think I would do this as I find the trend somewhat unnecessary but oh well..Some parents like to dress up their babies or infants as Easter Bunnies, come Easter. The only advice I would give is that importance should be given to comfort, comfort and more comfort, it can't be said enough. There are plenty of options available online such as:

 Cute and cuddly, pretty much achieves its purpose. When going for these costumes, make sure that the manufacturer specifies an internal lining to the outfit; these prevent unnecessary friction between the skin and costume.

Easter Costume Accessories

While I know that I keep harping about how important a costume accessory is, Easter is one of those few exceptions. I mean if you are going for a bunny costume, it will probably come with the ears and tail, so really there is not much to choose from. FYI, I have posted an article about making your own Bunny Ears Headband, so give that a read.

If handicrafts are not your strong point, rabbit ears are easily available. Such as these ones:

White bunny ears headband with pink lining, will get the job done. Make sure you go for the white color only, all the other ones look strangely weird.

With all this amazing wisdom to guide you (just kidding lol), it should be a piece of cake on finding the best Easter costumes and costume accessories. Remember that good costumes need not be the most expensive ones but you should go for decent quality. Let the fun roll, this Easter!