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What to Wear at Mardi Gras?

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Mardi Gras is an annual festival that begins on January 6th and lasts for weeks. Some may call the entire season Carnival and only the weekend before Mardi Gras. Some others may say that Mobile, Alabama started it first, but the main question is “What to wear to Mardi Gras?”

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Figuring out outfit ideas for Mardi Gras is such a loaded question, and so far, the internet has not gotten it right. There are so many different Mardi Gras celebrations that you will need a complete guide to what to wear at Mardi Gras. Oh, wait, that is what this is!

This will differ from your typical guide telling you to wear bandage dresses or high heels with your Mardi Gras outfits. Nope, this is a local’s guide to give you the best advice on what to wear during the Mardi Gras Season

Mallory posing with a King Cake at the selfie wall at the King Cake Hub.

What is the Weather Like for Mardi Gras?

The weather for Mardi Gras varies yearly because Mardi Gras Day can be anywhere between February 3 and March 9. Mardi Gras Weather can be anywhere from rainy and cold to sunny and warm. 

When preparing for a Mardi Gras Trip, you can prepare for temperatures to range from 50-70 degrees on average. The coldest Mardi Gras on record was 30 degrees, and the warmest on record is 83 degrees.  No Matter what the weather is New Orleans is going to let the good times roll.

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What do I wear to a Mardi Gras Ball?

Mardi Gras Balls are the most formal event that many New Orleanians may experience! Women are expected to wear long formal dresses that skim the floor or are ankle length. Men are expected to wear a black tuxedo for the event. 

Since many Mardi Gras Balls require floor-length gowns, I typically wear a bridesmaid dress that I wore earlier that year. This always works out, especially if the dress is darker, because plenty of spills can happen during a ball! 

The strict dress code can change, but many bigger balls like Endymion and Bacchus Balls do not allow less formal attire like suits or cocktail dress.

What do I wear to the office during Mardi Gras?

Traditional Mardi Gras colors are Purple, Green, and Gold, so wear your Mardi Gras finest shirt with jeans if your office has a casual Friday or dress code. You can also pair your outfit with cute shoes because you will not be parading.

On Casual work days, I love to wear a vintage purple, green, and gold collared shirt, jeans, and cute shoes. This always puts me in the festive Mardi Gras spirit. 

what to wear in new orleans mardi gras season

What do I wear to a King Cake or Mardi Gras Party?

Throughout Carnival Season, you may have a King Cake Mardi Gras Party to attend. Technically you can wear whatever suits your style – like a sequined filled dress – but you may want to dress up your outfit with a cute wig or other Mardi Gras accessories. Whatever you do, you want stick to the traditional carnival colors of purple, green and gold.

What do I wear to a Mardi Gras Parade?

The top tip for clothes for a Mardi Gras Parade is to be comfortable. Mardi Gras Weekend is a marathon and not a sprint, but Purple, Green, and Gold are a must.

Comfortable shoes are a must. Now you do not want to bring your white tennis shoes unless they are washable because they will get dirty no matter how careful you are. I suggest wearing old tennis shoes or rain boots, depending on the weather. 

Local shops and Etsy have the cutest shirts for sale, and I typically wear one of those. This lips shirt from Etsy is one of my favorites. 

This lips shirt from Etsy is the cutest!

What do I wear in a Mardi Gras Parade?

If you are in a Mardi Gras Parade, you either march with a krewe or ride on a float! Most Parade members have strict costuming requirements, which include keeping their faces covered at all times! 

What costume do I wear on Mardi Gras Day?

Mardi Gras day is when many locals and visitors come out in full costume. Even though you will see Mardi Gras Costumes throughout the weekend before Fat Tuesday, the main event for elaborate costumes is Mardi Gras Day. 

You will find great costumes up and down the parade route, but make sure you head into the French Quarter and Bourbon Street to find some of the most elaborate Mardi Gras Costumes. The rules are bigger, and the flashier is always better!

Plaid Shirt Yoga Pants at wearing a Mardi Gras Mask.jpg

Top Tips for Dressing for Mardi Gras Parade

Since most visitors will be coming to Mardi Gras to watch a parade, it’s time to jump into some top tips for dressing for a Mardi Gras Parade

1. Comfy shoes

The cardinal rule of Mardi Gras is “Do not wear heels to the parade” I do not care if you wear heels every day of your life. You want to wear something you can walk literal miles in, and you do not mind getting dirty.

I’ve worn quite a few different comfortable shoes in my day but wearing either waterproof shoes, or old tennis shoes seem to work out to be the best. Make sure your walking shoes fit appropriately because last year I got shin splits for breaking one of my own rules!

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2. Rain Boots

Keep a pair of rain boots with you when in doubt. It is bound to rain on one of the parade days or at least the week before. Many people stand on neutral ground, which is a fancy way of saying they are standing on the grass and mud between the two streets.

It can get sloppy out there, so rainboots come in handy. 

3. Pack a rain jacket

Pack a rain jacket or a few rain ponchos for you die-hards out there. Anything to protect you from the rain. Parades will roll on the parade route when the thunderstorm passes, but if you do not have a friend’s house or restaurant to take shelter in, that rain jacket will become your best friend. 

4. Purple Green and Gold Glitter

Mardi Gras is the best excuse to put on Glitter! Make sure that if you put any glitter on your face that you pack it in your bag. All your friends will want to use it once they see your fun face glitter!

Add any glitter or glitz to your outfit – sequins, sparkles, and fringe are all allowed at Mardi Gras! If you want to add a little sparkle to your entire outfit, Mardi Gras is it! 

What to wear in New orleans mardi gras

5. Pack extra safety pins

Things break, and Mardi Gras outfits fall apart, especially costumes, make sure to pack a few extra safety pins to avoid mishaps. 

6. Wear a fanny pack

I’ve been wearing fanny packs to Mardi Gras and Festivals for a while now but make sure to invest in a good fanny pack. 

7. Do not wear necklaces (or Mardi Gras beads)

As hard as it is, do not start the day off by wearing necklaces. Once you have a pile of beads around your neck, you do not want to throw away anything valuable by mistake.

Also, you are about to get A TON of beads. You do not need to start the day off wearing any beads from previous parades. 

Girl with yellow hat and green shirt at a Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans, Louisiana, surviving Mardi Gras

8. Leave fine Jewelry at home

when it comes to earrings, rings or anything like that, make sure to leave any fine jewelry at home. I would even steer clear from dangling earrings just because they can get caught on beads and may tug on your ears. 

9. Substitute the wedding bands for silicone

If you are married and feel like you have to wear your ring in New Orleans, invest in a silicone wedding ring. There are many stories of parade riders accidentally throwing their wedding bands into the crowd, but it can go both ways! If it is a chilly Mardi Gras, your fingers might shrink enough for a wedding band to fly. 

10. Dress in Layers

Dressing in Layers is key. Many days for Mardi gras, you parade all day and night. Bringing an extra jacket or leggings to change into at night will make you much happier. 

11. Wear some wigs

To get a little more festive without a full-on costume, invest in wearing few wigs! Mardi Gras is the perfect time to try new hair and a new persona. 

Wigs are always a fun addition to any outfit!

12. Large bag

Even though you may catch on from the parade, you will want a large bag to put all of your beads, feather boas, and other mass-produced carnival accessories that you catch from the parade.

It is best to just bring everything back to your home or hotel and then weed through what you want to keep. One good thing about Mardi Gras beads is you have enough souvenirs for the entire family!

13. Mardi Gras Themed Shirts

You cannot go wrong with buying Mardi Gras Themed shirts. From glittered lips to bead trees there are so many cute shirts both locally and on Etsy. Since you are going to a few parades, figure out how many shirts you need and go crazy!

This bead tree t-shirt is adorable!

Where to buy Costumes and Supplies for Mardi Gras in New Orleans?

There are quite a few places where ou can buy supplies locally for your Mardi Gras costume and costume accessories. If you are traveling in for Fat Tuesday, you should try to work on your costume before packing up to leave- but these places are great for locals or for those who do not plan on wearing an elaborate costume.

Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing – 4204 Magazine St

If vintage is your style, check out Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing, located on Magazine Street. With a unique and fresh cycle of clothing, you never know what you may find here to complete your Mardi Gras costume.

Southern Costume Company – 951 Lafayette St.

Known as the largest Costume Company in the South, Southern Costume Company knows how to do Mardi Gras. Whether you want to rent a costume or have a costume designer, create a gorgeous ensemble for you. Southern costume Company is the place to go.

Mardi Gras Outfits and Costumes

I hope that this blog post helped you decide what you want to wear for Mardi Gras! At the end of the day there really aren’t any rules for what you should or should not wear while on the parade routes but please, for the sake of my feet, make sure you wear comfortable shoes!

A feather boa will not do your outfit any good if you cannot walk around strutting your stuff!

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Monday 9th of January 2023

What do you wear to a float loading party?


Tuesday 10th of January 2023

That is a good question - I am doing my first float loading party this year but I plan on wearing Jeans or leggings, and a fun Mardi Gras Shirt like this Bead Tree Shirt I bought this year.

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