Isis is the Egyptian goddess of magic and motherhood, but putting it that way rather understates the case. Isis is simply one of the all-time great goddesses of world civilization. Worshiped by the Egyptians for thousands of years, she also became supremely important in the Hellenistic world. She was everything: mother, savior, redeemer, goddess of wisdom and healing, fount of fertility and rebirth, teacher of arts and skills. Her roots lie deep in the African Neolithic; she may be the original bird goddess, her huge outstretched wings sheltering those in her care.

The Egyptians associated Isis with the color red, addressing her as “thou lady of the red apparel.” She’s usually depicted wearing the archaic Egyptian sheath dress, which was nothing more than a tube of fabric with straps. A modern maxi dress is a comfortable substitute (though if you want to try making an Egyptian sheath, this page has excellent instructions). The pieces we suggest, from left to right:

1. Red maxi dress. A strapless gown like this works well with the collar (#2) and the wings (#5). A long sundress with straps would also work.
2. Egyptian beaded collar. This collar is actually from Egypt, so note the shipping time. (If this particular model is sold out, check the store’s pharaonic jewelry section for others; they seem to keep a selection in stock.)
3. Egyptian armbands. From that same eBay store in Egypt. These are brass cuffs with black elastic backs; get one for each arm.
4. Hathor crown. The Hathor crown was originally associated with the goddess Hathor—hence the name—but Isis wore it too. It represents the solar disk within a pair of horns, sometimes with two upright feathers as well. That costume item seems to go in and out of availability (here’s the manufacturer’s catalog page), so an alternate choice is this Egyptian vulture crown. This was the headdress particularly associated with queens, and Isis was sometimes shown wearing it (Isis took on a lot of symbolism as her popularity grew).
5. Huge black feather wings. These are seriously big wings. They don’t move, but you’ll still look like a giant Black Kite (Milvus migrans, the bird form of Isis). Slightly smaller wings are available here.
6. Egyptian-style wig. If you can’t do your own hair into an Egyptian style, a wig like this will fix you up.

Makeup: You’ll want to do dramatic eye makeup, with industrial-strength eyeliner and the lines drawn all the way out to your temples. There are a plethora of YouTube videos and instructionals out there. Consider using green eyeshadow, since malachite was the Egyptians’ favorite cosmetic for eye color.

Shoes: Egyptian deities were usually depicted barefoot, while pharaohs wore exquisitely made sandals covered in gold foil. (The Discovery Channel has an interesting set of slides showing sandals from King Tut’s tomb.) Since you probably don’t want to go barefoot, we recommend going the pharaoh route with something like these Max Collection Mirage sandals in gold:

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