What is proper Mardi Gras ball attire for women?
Unfortunately, there's not one uniform dress code for ladies to follow when selecting what to wear to the flurry of Mardi Gras balls that take place every year. Dress codes vary from city to city and even ball to ball depending on the private mystic society organizations hosting the dance event.
It's best to check the wording of the dress code on your invitation to determine the style and color of the formal dress you wear. Keep at the top of your mind, Mardi Gras Balls always rank as formal soirees held mostly in ballrooms at swanky hotels or fancy private clubs.
Remember, it is an honor to receive an invitation to a ball hosted by one of the mystical societies or krewes that also stage parades. You don't want to insult your host or hostess by not respecting and adhering to the dress code on the invitation.
What does a "Costume de Rigeur" mean on my invitation?
Get ready to really dress up if your Mardi Gras ball invitation reads "Costume de Rigeur". The French phrase translates roughly as "required fashion".
When it comes to attire for a Carnival ball, Costume de rigeur mandates you'll be a guest at a formal event with a tres (French for "very") strict dress code. The fashion bar will be set high for women with custom dictating nothing less than a long evening formal or a ball gown. Men can be expected to arrive in white tie and tails or military dress uniform.
In the case of "costume de rigeurs" there will be no exceptions to the ball's proper dress code. At the dance, you might even confront some organizers policing their society's fashion rules.
What should women not wear for Mardi Gras ball attire?
Here are fashion faux paus to avoid when you dress up for a Carnival ball:
- White dresses: reserved for the debutantes being presented at the event
- Short cocktail or party dresses: considered way too informal
- Styles that dare to bare skin: forget high slits or cutouts. Immodest styles can easily get you in trouble with the fashion police patrolling for dress code violations.
- Costumes: best suited for the merriment of Mardi Gras parades, floats and themed parties whether those are private or public events.
- Gowns too tight to enjoy eating, drinking or dancing the night away. Plan on partying until the early hours of the morning before the merry making starts to wind down. So select a design that is sophisticated, elegant and comfortable.
The practice and popularity of wearing evening gowns in those three colors dates back to 1892 when the first Rex parade was held in New Orleans.
The organizers associated justice with purple, faith with green and power with gold.
Ever since then, for almost 150 years, that trio of colors has been associated with Carnival being the dominant colors for parades, floats, beads, King cakes, masks and formal ball attire.
What accessories should I wear with my ball gown?
A mask might seem to be a tempting and fun accessory to dazzle your evening dress. But skip that design detail unless you are part of the mystic societies who host and stage the invitation-only balls.
Save the mask for Mardi Gras fun on the streets, parades, bars, restaurants and private parties where it will be a must-have accessory for your costume.
Ditto for elegant evening gloves. Leave those long white opera-length gloves at home. Customarily, wearing that evening accessory is reserved for the arms and hands of the debutantes. These are young women who are formally presented to society at the ball. You’ll spot them instantly because they always wear formal gowns in white.
For the ultimate head-to-toe glamour, wear evening shoes that sparkle. Be sure to find footwear comfortable enough to wear for eight hours or longer that also let you best dance moves to live bands or DJs.
Dressy metallic mules in silver, gold or bronze or fancy sandals make a practical and pretty footwear choice. If you're wearing a new evening footwear, plan ahead. Break in your shoes weeks before the big night to avoid painful blisters that can spoil your fun.
Where can I find a glamorous plus size Mardi Gras dress?
When you shop online at Sydney’s Closet where you can find a fashion-forward selection of long formal evening gown plus sizes from 14 to 40. Here's five party-ready designs from the 2023 Collection perfect choices to let the good times roll in style.