How Much Did You Spend On Your Mardi Gras Costume?
Pink pearlized balloons, rhinestones, corks, ice buckets, oversized plastic champagne glasses, pink and silver ribbons, iridescent pink fringe, miniature disco balls, safety pins, silver glitter glue and Fubbles, portable bubble blowing machines.
It’s a shopping list that sounds normal only in New Orleans.
It took all these items to create our Mardi Gras costumes this year, one for me and an identical one for my best friend. We costumed as Veuve Clicquot Rose pink champagne bubbles and made a big splash walking around the French Quarter on Mardi Gras. With balloons as bubbles, ice buckets as hats and champagne glasses filled with effervescent pink and silver ribbons, our costumes garnered bubbly praise and hundreds of snapshots.
When you add it all up, I easily spent more than $200, and spent many hours putting the looks together. But in a city where almost everyone has a makeshift costume closet, and where people don’t lament having to go to costume parties but instead stress over which of their many costumes they should wear, making a Mardi Gras costume is a labor of love. It’s something many locals cogitate on all year long and save up for – for the expense and the excess.
“It was all over the place,” Rocky Deckert, owner of New Orleans Party & Costume, said. “They spent anywhere from $5 to $150 this year. Typically, our customers don’t buy whole costumes off the rack. Instead they come in with their own creative ideas, themes and concepts derived from local events and put their own costumes together. We sold lots of feathers, ribbons, jewels, glue, glue guns and tutus.”
Deckert said anything gold, including gold leggings and bodysuits, flew off the shelves this year because of the MOM’s Ball’s circus theme and the 8th Annual Krewe de Lune’s 8th Annual Space Ball.
“Mardi Gras was a montage of circus themes and space themes this year,” Deckert said. “We sold out of circus costumes and items, sequins jackets and jester costumes. We had to reorder and sold out of those too.”
Southern Costume Company’s owner Wingate Jones said many of his customers were also attending the popular and secretive MOM’s Ball, and circus costumes were definitely de rigueur.
“We rent costumes, and most of our customers spent an average of $150 this Mardi Gras,” Jones said. “Most were looking for old circus themed costumes.”
Southern Costume Company’s 9,000-square-foot facility specializes in costumes for rent and costumes for film productions including “Now You See Me,” “12 Years A Slave” and “The Butler.” They take custom orders, and for Mardi Gras they work with several Mardi Gras organizations to provide Court and Krewe costumes.
Claudia Baumgarten, owner of Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & Costumes, said she sold lots of circus themed and animal trainer outfits and Sci-Fi inspired metallic leggings and suits as well.
Baumgarten, whose own Mardi Gras costume was awash in turquoise this year – a handmade turban with peacock feathers, turquoise hair, a tutu, tails and white marching boots – said her customers range from college students to Uptown professionals. “This Mardi Gras they came in to buy everything, from $10 tights up to $200 for a specific item, but most people spend a total of somewhere in between,” she said. “We also sell a lot to men. We have these very classy smoking jackets that sell for $175-$200 that are very popular and can be worn again and again.”
While many still haven’t put their Mardi Gras costumes away or taken down their purple, green and gold decorations yet, Baumgarten said they’re already moved on. At Miss Claudia’s, they’re already selling green tails, green ruffled tuxedo shirts, green bow ties and green gloves for St. Patrick’s Day.
For my pink champagne bubble outfits, I did most of my shopping at Party City and Michael’s where glitter is always the seasonal hot commodity.
After making my own costumes for about a decade, I actually have quite a few craft boxes stocked with Mardi Gras scraps. I have leftover butterflies, wire and plastic leaves from butterfly garden themed costumes, playing cards, green felt and fuzzy dice from Vegas themed costumes, plastic Easter eggs, green grass filler and stuffed bunnies from Easter basket themed costumes and about 8 dozen fake flowers from a Dollar Tree from flower garden themed costumes.
Whether you recycle, repurpose or buy anew, Mardi Gras costume creatives don’t seem to mind splurging on a little extra razzle-dazzle to make their costumes stand out on Mardi Gras.
How much did you spend on your Mardi Gras costume this year?
Let us know what you created, where you shopped and how much you spent below…
Southern Costume Company
951 Lafayette St.
New Orleans, LA 70113
New Orleans Party & Costume
705 Camp St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & Costumes
4204 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70115