Her face is one of the most famous in the world. Nefertiti (ca. 1370–1330 BCE) was the Great Royal Wife of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten, and her sublime portrait bust is one of the glories of ancient Egyptian art. The woman herself is still a mystery, although the clues about her are tantalizing. Her prominence during the Amarna Period is unmistakable, and it’s possible she became co-regent with Akhenaten. Even more intriguing is the possibility that she became pharaoh herself: did she take the throne after Akhenaten’s death, perhaps under the name Neferneferuaten? Egyptologists continue to study the question, and what’s exciting is that even now, almost three and half millennia later, new evidence is still being uncovered.

Nefertiti2014_costumeThe good and bad thing about dressing up as Nefertiti is that you really need just one key element: that tall blue crown. This is good because the blue crown is such an inmistakable trademark that you might as well hang a sign saying “Hi, I’m Nefertiti” on your forehead. The bad thing is that it is not particularly easy to make one of those crowns. We’ve experimented with everything from popcorn buckets to posterboard. What we ended up liking the best, believe it or not, is a lampshade. A beautiful blue satin lampshade. It’s easy as pie because it fits right on the head, the fabric is elegant, and it doesn’t require crafting. All you need to do is wrap some gold ribbon around the bottom, and some vertical striped ribbon around the middle. Here are the pieces we suggest, from left to right:

1. Blue satin lampshade, 8x8x11 inches. This beautiful fabric-covered lampshade is 11 inches tall and 8 inches wide, for a circumference of about 25 inches. (Nefertiti’s blue crown was flared out at the top, so a perfect cylinder isn’t exactly the right shape, but it still looks good.) If you have an average size head, this shade will be a little loose. You can pad it with some foam or padding wedged between your hair and the shade.
2. Woven gold ribbon, 1.5 inches wide. You only need a yard to wrap around the bottom of your hat (lampshade), which you can get at your local fabric store or craft shop; wide Christmas ribbon would also work. A little bit of Aleene’s Tack-It Over & Over glue will hold it in place.
3. Vertical striped grosgrain ribbon in brown, 1 inch wide. Vertical striped ribbon is a super-easy way to get the look of the bands on Nefertiti’s crown. The brown colorway of this particular ribbon is a perfect match, though other styles would work too. Just tie the ribbon in the back; a dab of Aleene’s Tack-It Over & Over can be used to secure it.
4. Koh Koh kaftan gown in white. A long caftan-like dress is a great way to evoke the drapery styles of Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. But pretty much any white maxi dress will work.
5. Egyptian beaded collar. We love these necklaces for Egyptian costumes. They look so cool!

Making your own dress: If you would prefer to make your own Egyptian dress, this page has excellent information.

Shoes: Flat gold sandals would be ideal. To get a sense of ancient Egyptian styles, check out the Discovery Channel’s slideshow of sandals from King Tut’s tomb.


Main illustration credits: The Nefertiti bust in in the collection of the Egyptian Museum of Berlin. The figure to the right is from the limestone statue of Nefertiti and Akhenaten in the Louvre.

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Other costumes in this category: Queens