Category Archives: costumes

All on a Mardi Gras Day

 

Mardi Gras Day is always a fabulously magical experience, and this year was extra special. My brother and his boyfriend were in town for carnival for the first time since 2009, so we went all out. It was also our tenant’s first Mardi Gras as a New Orleans resident, so I felt obligated to help her navigate the crazy. We ended up doing four nights of Uptown parades, hosted a pre-Bacchus party at our house replete with Chris’ Get Your Life Right Gumbo, cornbread and Jello shots (lololol), caught the Red Beans Parade on Lundi Gras, and left the house at 8 a.m. on Fat Tuesday to wander the French Quarter and Marigny.

Highlights from Tuesday include getting a choice downtown parking spot, seeing Solange walk past us as if she was gliding on a glitter cloud, running into a ton of friends, seeing a grown man naked on Frenchmen St. (not a highlight, but truly memorable), and getting five people home all in one piece. No one got lost, shit faced, or misplaced their pants. Mardi Gras Magic.

Okay, on to the costume details.

Crowning glory: I bought my hat back in 2011 but never figured out what to do with it. The colors are so vivid I knew the outfit needed to stand up to the topper. I made Thomas’ hat from scratch to complement mine. His hat looks fancy but it was relatively easy to make. All I needed was a buckram hat base (I used a cadet style), metallic blue fabric to cover the base with, a piece of foam board, and a metric ton of feathers and Mod Podge.

The shoes: I usually don’t get too hung up on my shoes since 1. comfort is paramount and 2. no one is going to notice them. Thomas, however, opts for matching shoes. I had a pair of lace-up boots that lost their luster but were still comfortable, so I spray painted them blue and glittered them up. The glitter/Mod Podge layer started to break at the stress points, but Thomas’ loafers managed to hold up.

His costume: My cardinal rule is to never repeat a costume on Mardi Gras Day. This year, we broke that rule by reusing his pants from last year’s getup. They were too perfect not to and it saved time and money. I added blue fringe and gold sequins to the back pockets to incorporate in the blue from the shirt. He bought the metallic blue shirt on Amazon and I found the vintage beaded belt at The New Orleans Costume Center. I added gold stretch fabric to the back so it would fit him properly. I like the cummerbund effect this had and it added interest and variety to what is otherwise just a t-shirt and tuxedo pants.

My costume: I bought the gold sequined bra from Trashy Diva, the crop top from Swap Boutique and the gold shorts from ASOS. Those shorts, by the way, were hideous when I first got them. They looked like glorified boxer shorts and did nothing for my legs. I took them in, added ruching and blue fringe on the sides and created a peplum with red and orange trim to hide the cheap looking elastic waistband. I originally wanted a gold ballgown skirt similar to the hot pink one I wore for our flamingo costumes back in 2012. I went with shorts because I like showing my legs and the shorts were inexpensive. The only ballgown skirts I found either looked cheap or cost more than I wanted to spend. Plus, I didn’t feel like making a skirt from scratch.

How much our costumes cost:

Total cost this year: about $320

Trim, etc…: about $170 for all the trim, feathers, his hat form, foam board and an X-acto knife

My costume: $33 bra, $20 shirt, $15 shorts

His costume: Shirt: $25, Evil eye applique: $35, belt $20

Where we saved money: I already owned my hat, the red fishnet stockings, the blonde wig and my necklace. We already had both pairs of shoes and his pants. I have a stockpile of thread, needles, and pins,  so I didn’t need to purchase sewing supplies. I also had some leftover sequins and gold appliques from last year, so I just used those. I tend to overbuy trim in case a piece needs to be repaired. I like to repurpose pieces for other costume events; I also loan costumes to friends on occasion, so it’s important to me to be able to reuse these things.

How we could have saved more money: Uh, it’s Mardi Gras. We go big or go home, and our asses never stay at home on Fat Tuesday. For me, it’s important to feel like I’m contributing to the splendid frenzy that it Fat Tuesday. See y’all on the parade route next year.

 

Mardi Gras 2016

spray painted shoesThomas FewerChristy LorioMardi Gras 2016Mardi Gras costumesWell that was fun.

Mardi Gras 2016 came and went. If you follow me on Instagram then you know I’m a very busy lady during carnival season. I marched with the Gris Gris Strut Marching Band again this year.  My friend Missy (flag corps) said it best: “This is like having a part-time job.” The band started practicing before Christmas, with the bulk of rehearsals in the weeks leading up to carnival. Then there are the parades. I marched in five of them this year, which was great fun but also physically and mentally draining. Walking at a snail’s pace across half the city while playing an instrument, coupled with the intense stimulus of thousands of eyeballs on you, takes its toll. Needless to say, it’s bittersweet that marching season has come to an end.

Oh yea, so y’all wanna talk about these costumes? This was the first time in three years that I didn’t have to balance Mardi Gras with school, which meant I had more time to get busy with the details. I think the official appliqué count was 28– all hand stitched by yours truly. And that’s not counting all of the sequin and feather trim work.  I started on our costumes a month ago, but as usual Lundi Gras night was spent at home with a needle and thread. Thomas was on shoe duty this year, and he did a great job dazzling up his pair of thrift store penny loafers.

After sifting through multiple costume boxes (we have enough to practically open our own costume store) to pull out my trust metallic gold body suit, I’m going to sit down after Ash Wednesday and put my old retail management skills to use. Each box is getting an inventory sheet, sorted by themes and color schemes. Our wigs (I lost count years ago) will get stored in their own separate box. A true #MardiGrasProblems situation.

Halloween

IMG_1230Christy Lorio

IMG_1234Halloween! It really is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather (sometimes) gets cooler, the leaves start to change (who am I kidding), the air turns crisp (except when it’s steamy as $%#@ outside), and okay screw it, no need to pretend; fall in southern Louisiana toys with my emotions every year. The temperature still creeps into the 80s some days, and figuring out what to wear is a crap shoot. In the morning I’m digging in the back of my closet for a sweater, and by noon I’m deeply regretting not wearing shorts.

Oh, what were we talking about? Oh yea, Halloween. I’m slowly starting to enjoy the holiday again. I have to admit Halloween lost its luster for me a few years ago for several reasons. I worked in a store that sells costumes for 8 years, which was great for my costume closet, not so much for my spirit. There’s nothing fun about trying to locate all six parts for “slutty bumblebee dress with tutu, gloves, headband, and stinger” while you’ve got a line piling up at the fitting room and last minute shoppers calling in desperation looking for “anything 1960s.” Another aspect of Halloween that bums me out is seeing so many damn costume-in-a-bags on the streets. I understand people are busy and sometimes need to piece together a costume on the fly, but as someone who takes great pride in coming up with original costume ideas, it does nothing for the atmosphere (yea, I’m serious) when half the people at the party show up wearing the same uninspired flimsy costumes. I guess mass produced costumes are better than no costume at all, but half the fun of Halloween is seeing the creative costumes that people come up with.

That said, last night was the funnest Halloween I’ve had in years. It rained off and on all evening, which helped with crowd control, which meant only the die-hard partiers were out. I saw some great costumes (lots of Beetlejuice, N.W.A, skeletons, Star Wars, some jellyfish), and the energy was upbeat despite the weather forecast. It was almost like people had a “we’re all in this together” mentality each time it started to pour.

We pieced together our costumes this year with thrift store finds and some online purchases. I found my Victorian-style blouse and a khaki skirt at a thrift store on the same trip. The pieces screamed British safari to me, so we decided to build our costumes around my outfit and the pith helmet that Thomas already owned. The medals on his jacket are leftovers from my high school marching band days. I found them in my mom’s attic recently and knew I would find a way to put them to good use. I made my clutch out of a piece of leftover buckram I had from an old Mardi Gras costume, scrap fabric from another project, and extra trim from this year’s costumes.

All on a Mardi Gras Day: Mardi Gras Costumes

It goes without saying that Mardi Gras is my favorite time of year. Some years are better than others (remember how cold and rainy it was last year?) but the 2015 carnival season was as an epic one; I marched in four parades with Gris Gris Strut‘s marching band and Fat Tuesday was downright magical. The costumes, the partying, and the energy all added up to a firm reminder why I love my hometown so much. Mardi Gras never gets old.
Oh yea, and our Mardi Gras costumes were rain clouds. I used car sunshades and foam board to create the base for the hat. It was so windy there were times our hats would blow right off our heads. Navigating crowds was also challenging. At one point I popped into Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop to grab two purple drinks (yes, that’s the actual name) but the crowd was so dense that I had to take my hat off and thrust it upwards to try to gain clearance over everyone’s heads. Fortunately I didn’t piss anyone off. In fact, it seemed that most of the bar patrons gave kudos to my decision to limit my own mobility for the sake of costuming. That’s the best part about Mardi Gras, especially in the French Quarter and Marigny. Most revelers respect everyone else’s costume game, even when cumbersome accessories get in the way and make the streets hard to navigate. It’s all part of the Mardi Gras magic and I’m so grateful that I get to partake in it year after year.
 Check out my Tumblr for more Mardi Gras photos.

Kicking off Carnival: Krewe Du Vieux and Gris Gris Strut

Thomas looks like a disco hippie Jesus.
My décolletage was not ample enough to store my iPhone, hence the square stomach. 

Our friend Allie’s golden birthday fell on Krewe Du Vieux Saturday* this year, so we obliged to her request to wear gold to the parade in honor of her special day. My costume box is more like a costume closet, which makes it easy to piece together a somewhat cohesive look on the fly. 
This coming Saturday I’ll be marching in the Krewe of Sparta as part of the Gris Gris Strut Marching Band. Come out and cheer us on; it’s been over 15 years since I’ve marched but I can still keep time with the best of them. 
*We’re at that point in the carnival season when every day has a parade name: Bacchus Sunday, Endymion Saturday, etc…
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Halloween: Space Age Vikings

Thanks for the picture, Daniele!

Halloween used to be a special time for me. It was all treats, with the occasional trick from a finicky sewing machine. I used to labor away on our costumes, until a few years ago. A friend told me she didn’t realize how awesome our costumes were until she saw the pictures on Facebook the next day. “It was too dark and I was too drunk to appreciate them that night,” she admitted. That comment made me realize it wasn’t worth the hours hunched over leopard print faux fur, stitching wooden beads and hand cut fabric leaves to a chest plate. Halloween has lost a little bit of its luster, unfortunately, and I don’t know how to get it back. It’s the equivalent of your parents telling you Santa isn’t real. 
This year we slapped viking costumes together using pieces that we already owned. A few last minute purchases pulled the look together; his helmet and my shell necklace tied everything together. I told myself I would be okay with going light on the costumes this year, but everything about our look bothers me. I need a headpiece, his cape and loin cloth look half assed, and we’re more Ziggy Stardust than Eric “Bloodaxe” Haraldsson. My laissez-faire attitude caught up with me; next year I’ll focus on what satisfies my creative spirit and not let other people influence my decisions as much. 

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Mardi Gras: Look ma, no pants!

Oh, Mardi Gras. It was one of the coldest and rainiest Fat Tuesdays ever, but that didn’t stop the die hard crazies from heading out, including us. Since I never take the weather into consideration when planning a costume, wool socks under wool tights under green tights under fishnets was the only way to go. I felt like a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race underneath all that hosiery. Despite how nasty it was, we managed to laissez les bon temps rouler anyway. Needless to say, I didn’t bring my camera in fear of getting it wet, so these were the only non iPhone pics we took. 
This year, I decided to make our hats. With about 12 hours total of hand stitching ( I rarely glue anything, unless sewing isn’t an option) I gave myself a bit of a break and thrifted our tops, minus some embellishments that I added. It’s always fun to play dress up, but I’m allowing myself a sweatshirt and jeans day today after freezing my toes off. Hopefully we’ll have better weather next year but hey, a little rain never stopped me from having a good time anyway. 

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Instagram Slam- Mardi Gras Edition

Can you believe Mardi Gras was only a week ago? Even though I’m still scrubbing glitter off my floors (and by still I mean haven’t started), it feels like a distant memory already. Regardless, I’ve got a few more photos to share before I put it to rest. And I lie- some of these made to my Instagram feed, others didn’t. I hope y’all enjoy them either way.

Kaci always kills it with her costumes. She made that Grecian goddess costume from scratch!

Dick in a box never.gets.old.ever.
Ran into this guy last year and he posed the same way this year. Mardi Gras kismet at its best.
Why yes, that is a Trojan horse running amok through the Marigny.
I love this picture of my husband- clearly he keeps himself entertained.
Form meets function- art bikes are always crowd pleasers, plus you can store booze and snacks in there.
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What I Wore: Mardi Gras 2013

Mardi Gras always passes a little too quickly for my liking. This year was a good one, with not so impromptu dance parties in the street, run ins with friends, and a heck of a long bike ride home. Even though it was overcast, dreary skies couldn’t dampen spirits. And though I’ve already packed up the costume box, I already have my hat for Mardi Gras 2014 picked out. See y’all on the parade route next year.

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Tips to get your costume together

It’s officially carnival season- are you as giddy as I am? While I’ve already got most of my costume supplies, I haven’t done a lick of sewing yet. I’m keeping it all a secret this year, but three words: orange short shorts. Want another hint? That’s what my husband is wearing. 



If you need a little help figuring out what in the hell you’re going to be for Mardi Gras, fear not. I’m sharing my tips to get your costume together at the East Bank Regional library on Wednesday, January 23rd at 7:00pm. From what to look out for when shopping, to a list of stores you’ll need to make it happen, consider this DIY Costume 101.  For more information check out the library’s calendar listing by clicking here or sign up on the Facebook event page. Have a question you’d like answered? Leave it in the comments below, or send it to slowsouthernstylellc@gmail.com.



Mardi Gras 2012







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