Dress to Impress: Your Guide to Mardi Gras Costumes

A woman in a mardi gras costume holding an umbrella.

Mardi Gras costumes are not just festive attire — they are your ticket to join the most vibrant party on the planet. Whether you’re a Mardi Gras veteran or a newbie, these tips will ensure that your costume is both fabulous and functional, making your Fat Tuesday unforgettable.

Mardi Gras is a time-honored celebration with roots stretching back to Ancient Rome. On the glittering streets of New Orleans, fantasy meets reality as celebrants don their most extravagant costumes and enjoy an over-the-top season packed with parties, rich Mardi Gras foods, and festive drinks before entering into the more somber, reflective, fasting period of Lent. As you prepare to step into this whirlwind of color and creativity, here’s the lowdown on nailing that perfect Mardi Gras look.

What to wear to mardi gras.


Have You Celebrated Mardi Gras?

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Why Do People Dress in Colorful Costumes for Mardi Gras?

Ever wondered why we dress up for Mardi Gras? It’s not just for the ‘gram! This tradition is a time-honored mash-up of Roman festivals and Renaissance masquerade balls. Today’s glitter-bombed costumes in New Orleans are part of a 150-year-old tradition, deeply embedded in the city’s vibrant culture.

The official colors of Mardi Gras represent different values. There’s purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. And let’s not forget Mardi Gras masks! They’re not just for hiding those “I partied too hard” under-eye bags. They’re also a nod to Carnival season’s pagan roots, allowing partygoers to substitute their everyday selves for a day of being whoever they want, full of unbridled joy and celebration.

Traditional Mardi Gras Costumes

Traditional costumes are like a high-five to Mardi Gras history. They include clowns, jesters, kings, and queens — each embodying a slice of Mardi Gras spirit. 

A woman dressed as a clown with colorful wig.
Photo Credit: YayImages.


When it comes to clown costumes, think baggy pants, suspenders, and a wig so flamboyant, it could have its own parade float. The makeup? It’s all about turning those smiles up to eleven and eyes as vibrant as the Crescent City itself.

A man dressed in a golden jester costume.
Photo Credit: YayImages.


Decked out in harlequin-patterned tunics and hats jingling with bells, jesters are the life of the party, spreading laughs faster than beads fly off a parade float. When it comes to Mardi Gras costumes, celebrating as a jester is a classic move.

A man in a king costume on a float in a Mardi Gras parade.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.


Dressing as a king or queen means dripping in luxury. I’m  talking about Mardi Gras costumes made of rich fabrics, crowns so fancy they’d make royalty jealous, and capes that say, “Yes, I am Mardi Gras royalty.”

Whether you’re channeling traditional vibes or going for a modern twist, remember that Mardi Gras is your canvas. Masks should be mysterious and alluring, with feathers and designs that make people say, “Who is that?” And don’t hold back on the bling – feathers, costume jewelry, you name it. Layer up these items to take your outfit from “nice” to “Whoa, where’s the parade?”

And makeup? It’s the cherry on top of your Mardi Gras sundae — bold, bright, and unapologetically you.

A woman in a blue Mardi Gras costume looking up at the camera.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

How to Dress for Mardi Gras

Whether you’re hitting the streets, attending a ball, or just partying at home, dressing for Mardi Gras is your chance to let your creativity flag fly. Sequins, bold color schemes, and embracing those iconic Mardi Gras hues – it’s all fair game.

A man wearing a chef hat with a mustache.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Find Inspiration in Current Events and Pop Culture

Looking for a killer costume idea? Turn on the news or scroll through your social media feed. Today’s headlines are tomorrow’s Mardi Gras masterpieces. Whether it’s the latest space mission (hello, astronaut chic) or a viral TikTok phenomenon, let the world around you be your muse. It’s all about mixing up the now with the know-how of traditional Mardi Gras flair. Who knows, your costume just might become the next big thing!

A little girl in a purple Mardi Gras costume holding a sword.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Embrace Traditional Colors

Traditional carnival colors are woven throughout every Mardi Gras experience, from tasty king cake to elaborate costumes. So when you incorporate princely purples, gorgeous greens, and shimmering golds into your ensemble, you create an outfit that screams, “I’m here to celebrate!” 

Dress in Layers

New Orleans weather during Mardi Gras can be as unpredictable as a jazz tune. Layer up to stay comfy and chic while adding an extra pop of pizzazz to your get-up. Start with a base like sparkly leggings. Then add your core costume and a fun, funky jacket.

A woman wearing a pearl wig.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Wear a Wonderful Wig

Step into any New Orleans costume shop, and you’ll find a wig wonderland. Want to be a neon mermaid or a rockstar from the 80s? There’s a wig for that! A well-chosen wig can be the centerpiece of your costume, so much so that the right one can boost the most basic costume to parade legend.

Three different Mardi Gras masks on a white background.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Pull on a Mask

During Mardi Gras, masks aren’t just a disguise — they’re a tradition. Choose one that speaks to you, whether it’s an elaborate black sequin eye mask or a simple one made at home. Remember, if you’re riding a float, masks are a must – it’s part of the magic and mystery of Mardi Gras. Plus, it’s a great way to hide your “I can’t believe I ate the whole King Cake” expression.

A man wearing a highly accessorized Mardi Gras costume.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.


The right costume accessory can take your ensemble from “nice outfit” to “Who is that masked marvel?” A practical and stylish option is a sequin fanny pack, which allows you to store important items like your phone, wallet, and keys while keeping your hands free for dancing and celebrating. But don’t stop there – add a feather boa, a statement necklace, or a headpiece that could double as a float decoration. It’s all about the bling!

A young girl applying make-up to her father's face.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

Get Creative with Makeup

Your makeup is where you can really let your creativity shine. Think bold eyeshadows, glitter galore, and colors so bright, they’ll need sunglasses. Apply colorful body paint, body jewels, or body glitter to add additional shimmer and sparkle to your look.  This is your chance to experiment – go for that electric blue eyeliner or those rhinestone-studded lashes. After all, if you can’t go wild with your makeup at Mardi Gras, when can you?

A pair of silver sneakers on a colorful Mardi Gras background.
Photo Credit: Zappos.

Wear Comfortable Shoes

You’ve got the costume, the wig, the accessories, and the makeup. But wait! Don’t forget about your feet. The best Mardi Gras experiences often involve plenty of walking and dancing, so comfortable shoes are a must. But who says they can’t be fabulous? Blinged-up sneakers or custom-decorated shoes can keep you dancing all day and partying all night.

Do You Celebrate Mardi Gras?

What are your favorite Mardi Gras costumes? Do you have any additional costume tips or tricks to pass along? I’d love to hear from you, so share your experiences in the comments section below.

A silver pot of cooked crayfish in Louisiana


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1 thought on “Dress to Impress: Your Guide to Mardi Gras Costumes”

  1. This article was AMAZING! I got so many ideas for what I am wearing to Mardi Gras this year. It was super informative too.

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