When it comes to costumes for Mardi Gras, there is essentially one main rule. That rule is anything goes. In other words, you can pretty much dress how you please, and since Mardi Gras celebrations in general tend to lean towards the debaucherous side, that includes wearing costumes that are rather risque. It all comes down to how far you want to take things or how comfortable you are showing some skin.
While Mardi Gras costumes essentially come in all forms, there are some tendencies that people often adhere to. Brightly colored costumes are common, for example, and typical accessories include beaded necklaces, jester hats, boas, and feathers. Purple, green, and gold are among the most popular colors, as is evidenced by the New Orleans Carnival, for example, and should you see anyone donning jewelry, it is often of the gaudy variety.
Some costumes for Mardi Gras have a mysterious element to them. This is certainly the case in Venice Italy, where all the Venice Carnavale images show the practice of wearing masks is common. You are also likely to see people wearing masks in New Orleans and a number of other destinations that are known for their Mardi Gras celebrations. The masks, especially when it comes to the long history of the Venice Carnival, largely serve to hide the wearer’s identity. They are also quite fun and allow the wearer to take on a different personality, if you will.
Certain Mardi Gras costumes are tied to specific destinations. In the Belgian town of Binche, for example, it is common to see locals wearing clown-like costumes that feature wax masks, vibrant suits, wooden shoes, and special hats that feature ostrich plumes. Those who don such outfits are known as Gilles. It should be mentioned that only men and boys dress as Gilles in Binche, and being a Gilles is something to aspire to.
In general, Mardi Gras celebrations are known for being quite decadent, and many people who choose to participate in them have risque behavior in mind. As such, it is common to see Mardi Gras costumes that are sexy and reveal a lot of skin. This is certainly the case in Rio de Janeiro, where women especially are known to pretty much bare it all. In fact, you are all but guaranteed to see topless women participating in the Rio de Janeiro Mardi Gras parades, as you can see in most Rio parade photos. The images of Rio carnival girls have become quite iconic, but keep in mind that different rules apply to different places, so some discretion is encouraged.
These are just some Mardi Gras costume ideas, and as mentioned, you can pretty much go how you please. Once again, masks and jester outfits are quite popular, and costumes that have a gypsy element or an air of royalty to them are quite common. Also common are outfits that are wicked in nature, though more often than not, fun and humorous are the main themes. Plenty of companies that specialize in costumes can help you find something that suits your personal preference, and you can always attempt to put your own Mardi Gras costume together. Perhaps you’ll dress like a nobleperson from eighteenth-century France or don extravagant plumage as is common in Rio de Janeiro. The sky is basically the limit, and creativity can certainly be at the heart of things.