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How to dress for a Mardi Gras parade

by Laura Milligan

Average High Temperature for February 16, in New Orleans, LA: 65 degrees Farenheit

Average Low: 46 degrees Farenheit

Mardi Gras this year falls on Tuesday, February 16, which means you’ve got to fast forward through your Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day outfits and start planning for one of the biggest party days of the season.

Below we’ll give tips for two types of Mardi Gras outfits: one for parades (we’re focusing on New Orleans, Mobile and other U.S. parades) and one that works for house parties. If you’ve been to Carnival celebrations in Europe or South America, please leave your tips on what to wear to those parades in the comments section below!


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What to wear to a Mardi Gras parade

New Orleans is a fashionable but casual town that normally eschews high heels and tight clothing for boots, sandals, jeweled flats and super-soft tees. Women in NOLA love accessorizing, but if you’re going to a parade, you won’t have to worry about bringing your own jewelry to the party — you’ll be showered in enough beads, novelty items, flowers, and plastic rings to make you look like a queen.

The important thing to remember when dressing for a Mardi Gras parade is comfort and practicality. Here are our best tips:

  • Wear flat, closed-toe shoes. People are going to be stomping and jumping all over your poor feet, so wear your Converse, TOMS or flat boots to protect yourself. You’re also going to be standing and walking around for hours — and we do mean hours — so wear socks or liners to prevent blisters. Pack band-aids just in case.
  • Don’t wear short skirts. You’re just asking to get groped, especially if you slip or reach too high for beads. Layer leggings underneath short shorts and skirts to be safe and comfy.
  • Wear washable items. It’s a safe bet that whatever you wear on Mardi Gras is going to get dirty. At some point during the day or night, at least one of the following is going to spill on you: beer, mud, frosting, jello shots, daiquiris, and funnel cake or beignets. It’s okay to wear a fitted t-shirt and your Saturday morning jeans — you’re going to be covered in brightly colored beads anyway!
  • Bring a windbreaker with pockets. It often rains or at least drizzles in New Orleans, and if you want extra protection from sloshing beer, stuff a windbreaker into your bag.
  • Choose a crossbody, zip-top bag. For security’s sake and to keep your hands free, wear a crossbody zip-top bag that has room for all your stuff, but make sure you leave valuables locked up at home.
  • Bring plastic sunglasses. Opt for cheap plastic sunglasses to protect your face from flying beads rather than a baseball cap, which can limit your vision in a bad way.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy. Mardi Gras brings out everyone’s kooky side, so if you’ve been dying to wear those turquoise knee socks, paint your face and wear glittery fake eyelashes, this is the day to mix and match your crazy accessories. Just make sure everything you put on is comfortable enough to leave on all day.

What to wear to a Mardi Gras party:

Because we’re not all lucky enough to live in a place where Mardi Gras is an official state holiday, or where you can even find a Mardi Gras parade, you might have to settle for a house party. Here’s how to get into the spirit:

  • Go for gold, green and purple: It’s tacky, but it’s also the tricolor tradition for Mardi Gras. You can always wear green or purple and accessorize with gold jewelry or metallic shoes.
  • Embrace impractical accessories: Since you’re going to be inside, or at least near chairs, you can wear your high-heeled boots or ridiculous hat, and then take them off whenever you get uncomfortable.
  • Consider the invitation: Some Mardi Gras parties are actually black-tie, or at least cocktail attire. Make sure you know the dress code before you go.
  • Act like it’s New Year’s: For dressier parties, apply the New Year’s rule: start with a cocktail or black-tie basic (like an LBD) and then add blingy accessories and fun shoes to make it fun.



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One Response to “How to dress for a Mardi Gras parade”

  1. Good details on this topic. Much appreicated.

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