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Unsure of What to wear in New Orleans? A Local’s Guide

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  • General Attire for New Orleans: Casual, comfortable clothing suitable for the hot and humid climate is recommended, with breathable fabrics like linen and cotton being ideal. Avoid formal attire and stiletto heels unless necessary for specific events.
  • Seasonal Considerations: Dress appropriately for the season, with layers and waterproof shoes for winter, light jackets for spring evenings, light-colored and breathable fabrics for summer heat, and a mix of comfortable and cooler options like leather jackets for fall.
  • Specific Activities and Events: For walking and exploring, comfortable dresses and sandals are recommended; festivals call for casual, colorful outfits; upscale dining and nightlife suggest chic, stylish, yet practical attire; while special events like Mardi Gras and weddings may require specific themed clothing or formal wear.
  • Practical Tips: Check the weather forecast before packing, opt for versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched, and prioritize comfortable footwear suitable for walking on uneven streets, keeping in mind the varied activities from daytime exploration to evening entertainment.

New Orleans is a city with laid-back attire – it is not called the Big Easy for no reason! Most of the time, locals will let you know that it is hot and humid in New Orleans, so knowing what to wear in New Orleans for special occasions or different seasons can be difficult.

Before your trip to New Orleans, you will want to check the weather forecast a few days in advance to see the average high temperature and forecast.

In New Orleans fashion, about anything goes. If you want to be comfortable in what you wear, pack a lot of breathable fabrics, like linen and cotton, and leave the spandex at home.

Leave these at home if traveling to New Orleans

Leaving stiletto high heels and formal attire at home is a good idea unless your itinerary calls for anything with a dress code. 

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New Orleans is best explored by foot. The last thing you want to complain about is wearing heels that hurt your feet.

Dress for the weather

To pack the appropriate attire, make sure you are dressing for the weather. If the day calls for rain, I always find it easier to wear a cotton dress with Hunter rain boots than long pants. While wearing a dress, skirt, or shorts – if you get wet, your skin will dry quickly.

I find that rain ponchos or raincoats give better rain coverage than umbrellas. For some reason, I feel like the rain in New Orleans just goes sideways.

what to wear in new orelans rain
Moments after I took this photo I was soaked because the umbrella did nothing to protect me

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New Orleans Travel Capsule Wardrobe

One of the best ways to travel is with a Capsule Wardrobe. Many like to ensure they have various outfits to combat the heat and humidity.

When packing a capsule wardrobe for your trip to New Orleans, you will want to ensure that you throw in multiple tops, bottoms, dresses, and shoes that you can easily throw together.

When dressing in New Orleans, my color pallet typically varies with yellows, navy, and whites because these colors easily blend and go together. Depending on the time of the year, you may need to pack a jean jacket, scarf, or jeans to mix and match your wardrobe.

what to wear in new orleans spring

What to Wear in New Orleans in Winter

Winter can get quite chilly in New Orleans – the temperatures do not typically drop into the freezing range, but the humidity makes everything cold – down to your bones.

The weather can range anywhere from 30-70 degrees during this time. During winter, you will want to bring waterproof shoes, breathable fabrics, a pair of jeans, and lots of layers.

You may want to bring a little black dress if you plan on going to a place with a dress code.

what to wear in new orleans winter

What to Wear in New Orleans in Spring

Spring in New Orleans has the best weather – the days and nights are cooler than the summer months, and it is the best time to get out and explore.

Make sure you pack a light jacket or light sweater for the evening and comfortable shoes during the day to explore the French Quarter.

The start of the festival season beings in the Spring, and you will want to pack comfortable clothes to fest all day long. I love wearing seersucker in the spring and summer of New Orleans! 

what to wear in new orleans sear sucker

What to Wear in New Orleans in Summer

High Temps and the sweltering heat are the only way to describe New Orleans during the summer. New Orleans is hot.

If you plan on doing any outdoor activities, make sure you pack lots of light-colored cotton and linen fabrics – otherwise, you might now survive. You will also want at least three pairs of underwear per day due to a natural phenomenon named Swamp Ass.

Many people may opt for crop tops, but I find that lightweight layers or just an outfit made of linen are the easiest way to stay cool in New Orleans. White is always a must when traveling in the Summer.

During the Summer, we have many events like Red Dress Run or White Linen Night that basically tell you what you need to wear.

rooftop party new orleans
I love wearing eyelet dresses in New Orleans.

What to wear in New Orleans in Fall

Finally, fall is the beginning of cooler months for New Orleans. This is the perfect time to travel, with the average temperatures ranging from 53-88 degrees.

A leather jacket can spruce up any capsule wardrobe, and you can pull together the right outfit for any occasion.

You can always wear my favorite Fall outfit, which is Plaid Shirt and Yoga Pants.

what to wear in new orleans plaid


What to wear to walk around New Orleans

When walking around New Orleans, a good choice of clothes is a comfortable dress and sandals when it is hot outside.

If it is colder outside, jeans, yoga pants, and a cute top is the perfect outfit. During the Fall – I always wear leopard because I fully believe leopard is neutral. 

Your style will come into the mix, but you can generally find me in a breathable dress and sandals for everyday outfits.

However, If you plan on walking in a high-traffic area like Bourbon Street – make sure you bring closed-toe shoes and leave your flip-flops for the beach!

what to wear in new orleans leopard


New Orleans has tons of festivals during the spring and summer days that you will want to get dressed for. The outdoor festivals down here are pretty casual, so you can quickly wear an outfit you would also wear sightseeing.

I wear a cotton or linen dress or a tank top with linen shorts, depending on my mood. Brightly colored shirts and dresses are a must when it comes to festivals.

Many popular events take place outdoors, so adding a straw hat and sunglasses to your wardrobe will protect you from the sun.

French Quarter Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival are two large festivals that bring many tourists into the city.

what to wear in new orleans festival with hat

What to wear to a Museum in New Orleans

New Orleans likes to keep their air conditioner on full blast, so it is always best to make sure you have layers.

When visiting an indoor exhibit like the New Orleans Museum of Art or the Sazerac, I dress for outside but grab something with long sleeves, like a jacket, in case I get chilly from the Air Conditioning.

what to wear in new orleans musuem

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What to wear on a swamp tour in New Orleans 

There are many outdoor activities, like swamp tours, where wearing a dress might not be wise depending on the weather – I suggest wearing short sleeves, loose-fitting shorts, and sandals for most outdoor activities.

If you are going during a cooler month, wearing yoga pants or nice-fitting jeans is perfectly fine!

Do not forget to bring your sunscreen to protect you from getting a sunburn and running the rest of your vacation here. You could also wear these same outfits to a Cemetery tour or other outdoor walking tour. 

what to wear in new orleans fall

What to wear in the Rain in New Orleans

Face it – It is going to rain, and you are going to get stuck in it. If rain is in the forecast, pack a poncho, raincoats, or something else that will help you navigate in the rain.

When walking around the French Quarter, you will want to ensure you are wearing waterproof shoes or shoes that if they get wet, it is not a big deal.

I find that a rain jacket is easier to wear than walking around with an umbrella.

what to wear in new orleans rain

What to wear to dinner or a show in New Orleans 

Are you planning to go to a nice dinner with a dress code like Commander’s Palace – make sure you pack business attire.

Jeans and shorts are discouraged for most upscale restaurants. It is preferred that men wear jackets and collared shirts. My Best clothing tip for dining at an upscale restaurant is to pack like you are going to Sunday Mass with your family.

what to wear in new orleans going out to eat

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What to wear in New Orleans for any Occasion

What to wear for a night out 

If you are hitting the bar scene or want a night out on Bourbon Street, I suggest wearing something cute, stylish, yet comfortable.

I typically avoid a skinny heel while I am out but pick a pair of heels with a chunkier heel or an Espadrille heel to help walk on uneven pavement.

If you are going out on Bourbon Street – skip the heels altogether and wear sturdy close-toed shoes like boat shoes.

what to wear in new orleans event

How to dress for Mardi Gras

Dressing for Mardi Gras warrants its own series, but there are three main items to pack for Mardi Gras: Casual clothes with purple, Green, and Gold, a fun costume for parades, or a full-length ball gown to attend one of the many balls.

I typically wear jeans or yoga pants for Mardi Gras that are not too tight, my favorite Purple, Green, and Gold shirt, and good walking shoes.

The most important thing for Mardi Gras is footwear because you can clock in over 10 miles of walking.

I wear a fanny pack to Mardi Gras to ensure my hands are free to catch beads and sip on to-go drinks with our lax open container laws.

Actually – you may have more questions on What to Wear at Mardi Gras, so check out our entire blog post helping you decide!

What to wear in New orleans mardi gras

What to wear for a New Orleans Wedding

New Orleans is the perfect place to have a destination wedding – so you may have to travel to one! I have never worn a long dress to an upscale New Orleans wedding unless I was the bridesmaid!

Even though a formal evening gown is allowed at a Black Tie wedding, wearing an upscale cocktail dress is perfectly acceptable for a New Orleans wedding.

For guys, make sure to find out if the wedding is a Black Tie event because a tuxedo is expected.

If your wedding includes a second line, ensure you have the proper footwear to parade from the church to the ceremony.

No matter what you wear, you will have a great time if you are invited to a wedding in New Orleans!

what to wear in new orleans wedding
I absolutely love this navy dress I got from Nordstrom.

What to wear for a New Orleans Bachelorette Party

New Orleans Bachelorette parties are so much fun! It is always a blast to get together with friends to celebrate an upcoming marriage with a bachelorette party in New Orleans.

For a Bachelorette party, your krewe can opt for matching shirts to wear during the day, cute black dresses for the evening, or even sashes and buttons.

My favorite thing to make sure people wear at Bachelorette parties is tons of glow sticks so you can find your friend in the crowd! 

what to wear in new orleans bachelortte party

What to wear to a Saints Game

Every fall the Saints play in the Caesars Superdome, and people descend on the Superdome wearing their black and gold.

You will want to make sure that you have on a super cute shirt with jeans or fun accessories..

Whatever you do – make sure you are wearing Black and Gold to the Saints Game. If you are going to the actual Superdome, you will also need to bring in a clear, small purse.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You may still have questions about what to wear when traveling to New Orleans. If this frequently asked question does not answer any questions, you have to feel free to ask in the comments below!

Do people dress up in New Orleans?

New Orleans is a pretty laid-back city regarding dressing code. Unless you attend a special event, upscale restaurant, wedding, or Mardi Gras Ball – you can dress pretty casually. Cotton Dresses, Shorts, Tank tops, and jeans are all perfectly fine to wear in New Orleans.

I typically gravitate to linen and I end up wearing the same thing over and over.

what to wear in new orleans casual

What should I wear on Bourbon Street at night?

The crowd can get wild on Bourbon Street at night with people dancing in the street and throwing beads from the balcony – so you may want to dress the part by wearing something sexy!

A little black dress, jeans, a tank top, or a super cute mini dress could be three different ideas to wear while hanging out on Bourbon Street at night. Just be careful because you may get a hand grenade (drink) spilled on you while out!

Why shouldn’t I wear black to eat Beignets?

You typically do not want to wear black to eat beignets are Cafe Du Monde or Cafe Beignet because you will be covered in white powdered sugar!  No matter how neat of an eater, one of your fellow travelers may breathe a little too heavy, and a cloud of powdered sugar will descend onto your shirt! You will always want to be Instagram Ready!

what to wear in new orleans cafe du monde

Can I carry a purse in New Orleans?

Yes – you can carry a purse in New Orleans, but I find it’s better to have a cross-body purse, fanny pack, or a smaller purse to take all your items with you.

You want to ensure that your accessories do not take up valuable hand real estate while dancing, enjoying a festival, or just taking a tour of New Orleans.

Should I wear heels in New Orleans?

Heels are some of the best shoes out there, but most of the time, they are not appropriate for sightseeing or even going out in New Orleans.

With the uneven pavement, grates in the sidewalk, and other trip hazards, you do not want to wear any good heels while in New Orleans.

A pair of elevated espadrilles are a good compromise if you have to have a bit of height. For daytime, most people wear sandals or sneakers depending on how much walking they plan on doing.

what to wear in new orleans searsucker again
Yes – you have seen this dress multiple times in this post. Seersucker is my favorite thing to wear in New Orleans!

What are the best shoes to wear in New Orleans?

Good walking shoes are the best option when walking around the streets of New Orleans. You will want to ensure that your shoes can hold up for the miles you will walk in them.

For Mardi Gras or for walking on Bourbon Street, you want comfortable, waterproof shoes to protect your feet from whatever gunk you may step in.

Sturdy sandals or tennis shoes (sneakers) are perfectly acceptable for any other time!

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