It wouldn’t be the same if you celebrated Mardi Gras without a costume! Costumes and masks are an important part of the crazy carnival that is Mardi Gras. But before we move on to how to dress up for Mardi Gras, a quick history lesson on why we’re partying. Mardi Gras literally means Fat Tuesday and is the last big celebration before Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season and a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Since the date of Easter varies according to the year, so does the date of Mardi Gras, although the big party always happens 47 days before Easter. This means that it can happen as early as February 2 or as late as March 8.
The tradition of dressing up in costume for Mardi Gras is based on the French tradition of holding masquerade balls after church on Sundays. Costumes range from fun Halloween-type costumes to traditional masquerade masks and elaborate ball gowns. You won’t be barred from entering a party if you’re not in costume, but showing up with at least a mask on and leaving your identity behind for a day is always a lot of fun. Read on to learn how to find Mardi Gras costumes.
- Unless you can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on an elaborate Mardi Gras costume, you’re better off renting them. Check out your local costume rental store for ball gown type costumes and carnival costumes, or look for costume rentals online. Generally, you can use the costume for around three days, depending on the contract.
- You can wear a cocktail dress you already have and dress it up with a Mardi Gras mask. There are many kinds of Mardi Gras masks, but you’d want to stay away from ceramic masks as these are only used for decorations. For your costume, go for wearable masks made out of paper, plastic or paper mache. They usually have a band or ribbon that wraps around your head to keep it in place, or a stick that you can use to hold the mask up to your face. Mardi Gras masks can be bought in costume stores, sometimes as part of a Mardi Gras costume, or rented.
- If you’re feeling thrifty and creative, you can even make your own Mardi Gras mask to wear for the party! Craft stores or party supply stores often carry simple, undecorated Mardi Gras mask. Grab an undecorated mask along with sequins, beads, feathers, paint, and craft glue, and then decorate your mask as you wish. For inspiration on how to decorate your Mardi Gras mask, look for mask designs over the Internet and try to imitate them.
- You can also make your own Mardi Gras mask entirely from scratch by cutting out a mask shape out of hard cardboard. Cut out holes for the eyes and attack a long stick or two pieces of ribbon to keep the mask in place. Unless you have experience making masks, it might be a better idea to buy a plain mask from a craft store, because cutting the mask perfectly will take a lot of time.