Reader Submitted Halloween Costumes

As much as I look forward to Halloween every year, I didn’t celebrate very much this go ’round. Between a month of jury duty (read about my experience on Uptown Messenger), the busiest month of the year at my full-time job, freelance writing projects (more on those soon), and the unfortunate timing of a horrific stomach virus on Samhein itself, I just couldn’t get into the costuming mood. So instead of sharing my Halloween getup with y’all, I have a few reader submitted pictures instead. Enjoy, and I’ll see y’all on Mardi Gras for my normal tomfoolery.

My favorite kid ever- Nolan Zombie

Rachel Marks as Frida Kahlo
My friend Edward Cox and his Simply Stunning creations

A pharaoh friend and MacKenzie Smith as Tinkerbell (nice cleavage, dude)

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Cavortress at Voodoo Music Fest

Halloween in New Orleans is huge. In addition to the costumed people watching happening on Frenchman Street, Voodoo Music Fest brings hoards of festival goers to the city, coming to celebrate all weekend long. With this many events going on, having a stash of costumes at the ready is practically a requirement to being allowed into the Big Easy.

 Charleston based swimsuit line Cavortress (read my Oxford American piece on the brand) will be at Voodoo this year, with plenty of costume accessories to keep you looking festive if you came unprepared for the party. Custom tutus, devil horns, animal ear and tail sets, and Swarovski magic wants are just some of designer Julie Wheat’s pieces that she’ll be hawking in addition to vintage ensembles. Go check out her booth at Voodoo and make sure you tell her Slow Southern Style sent ya!

And a (slightly naughty) video.

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Going to the Mardi Gras- Flamingo Style

I teased y’all enough this year with my Mardi Gras Quasi DIY series, where I gave a sneak peek into the raw materials that were transformed into a hot pink, flamingo spectacle.  So without further ado here’s what we wore on Fat Tuesday. There are plenty more pictures on the Slow Southern Style Facebook page, click here to see the entire album! I put a ton of work and a whole lot of love into our costumes, let me know what you think in the comments section.

Don’t become too entranced with my pasty white, flabby abs now.

Detail shot- I’m sure no one noticed my earrings.
Hat- Buffalo Exchange, trim from Jefferson Variety
Earrings- Buffalo Exchange
Bra- mine, all trim from Jefferson Variety except the middle medallion
Skirt- Bloomin’Deals thrift store
Opera length gloves- high school prom leftovers!
Check out those legs
Backpack- one of my essentials from this Uptown Messenger article

Hat- Buffalo Exchange, tiny top hat and bowtie handmade by me

Jacket- Funky Monkey, trim from Jefferson Variety
Wide collared shirt and tie- Buffalo Exchange
Wig- Uptown Costume
Shorts- (hideous women’s pants transformed) Red, White, and Blue
Fuzzy tall slippers- Buffalo Exchange

Detail of shorts and boots

Did you go to Mardi Gras this year? What did your costume look like?

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Simply Stunning Designs- The Name Says It All

There are people who attend Mardi Gras, and others whose lives revolve around it. For Edward Cox, his career is one “glittery, sparkly lump” and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Cox has been designing costumes since he was 5 years old. That’s right, f-i-v-e. He claims even at such a young age, helping his mother sew he knew what he wanted to do, and he’s been doing it ever since.

Archived design- image c/o Simply Stunning Designs

Just one of Edward Cox’s fantastical creations- image c/o Simply Stunning Designs

Designing costumes for the Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Cox often outfits 100 children at a time for productions such as Cinderella.  Of course fairy tales lend themselves to Mardi Gras creations, although there are no glass slippers here. Comfort is important, especially with custom made masks. Cox takes into account the persons facial structure, where the eye holes need to go, and will even accommodate eyeglasses. Having worked with carnival krewes and being an equity actor himself, Cox knows that mobility is important.

He also keeps his prices affordable so people can love their purchases, be proud of their one of a kind creations and simply “have a blast”. He can even spruce up an inexpensive store bought costume. “No one just eats boxed mac & cheese” he states. “you have to play with it”.

Senore Muerte photo © Bill Pino

Want to pick up your own stunning design? Cox is selling his creations this weekend at Kajun’s Pub. Talk to the man himself, get yourself a drink at the bar, and to steal one of Cox’s signature phrases “have a blast”. Visit the Simply Stunning Designs Facebook page for more costume pictures.


Saturday February 18th & 19th

Roughly noon to 6-ish. 


Kajun’s Pub

2256 St. Claude Avenue 

New Orleans, LA 70117 


Leopard mask and golden zebra derby combo- image c/o Simply Stunning Designs

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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Four

Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY is a four part series. Catch up and read parts one, two and three here, here, and here.

The devil is in the details, so make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to accessorize accordingly. Since the husband and I are flamingos this year, we can’t let any opportunities for glitz slip by. Some feathered eyelashes here, some sequined trim there, I always try to max out what we are wearing. The problem lies with time constraints. Without fail, every year I’m up to my eyeballs in bead work or sewing sequins, only to come up with more and more ideas for the perfect costume. Just when I think I’m getting close to finishing my creation, one more detail pops into my head. 

Be sure to check in next Friday when all will be revealed!
black & pink feather eyelashes

handmade tiny top hat
70’s collar gets a sequin trim upgrade
john waters and/or portlandia would be proud
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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Three

Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY is a four part series. Catch up and read parts one and two here and here.

What separates the men from the boys on Fat Tuesday are the details. Anyone can throw on a bagged costume and say they are dressed. But you wouldn’t do that, right? I’m a sucker for those important final touches, or rather a glutton for punishment. Anytime I think a costume is complete, I find one more minute embellishment that transforms it from plain to over the top. Last year, I was hand sewing tiny shells into the hairline of my husband’s wig the night before. Did anyone notice? Probably not, but when you are Poseidon, King of the Sea,  you can’t sport a pedestrian hairdo. 
This year it is all about going over the top gaudy. We’ve got more sequins and feathers than Liberace had piano keys. I like for our costumes to complement each other, but not mimic each other so I gave our flamingo hats their own personal touches.
The gal is on the left, the gentleman on the right. And kitty makes friends.

Ruffles add a feminine touch for her
A dapper bow tie for him
Minuscule millinery work is for the birds
Crumpled up homemade top hat pattern serves as stuffing

So how’s your Mardi Gras costume progressing this year? Are you almost done or haven’t even started?

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Gator Heads and Oyster Shells courtesy of Half Shell Productions

If you’re still looking for something to complete your Mardi Gras costume (or perhaps you haven’t even started on it yet), Halfshell Productions may have your solution.  Tracy Hamlin in NOLA offers a selection of appropriately quirky Mardi Gras headdresses and bustiers.  Like all good Mardi Gras costumes, Tracy’s designs feature plenty of feathers and beads as well as some more unconventional materials.
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

Here’s a bit from Tracy herself about her unique offerings.
You mentioned in your Etsy shop profile that you started making headdresses for the 2011 Mardi Gras season.  What prompted this?
Costuming is a New Orleans tradition. Sometimes it only takes one item:  a bustier, headdress or top hat, to begin the whole look and feel of a costume. That’s how it was for me. I made a Cajun Carmen Headdress, and then a feathered bustier, to march with Mondo Kayo on Fat Tuesday of 2011. I had so much fun wearing the outfit that I wanted to offer that one piece of “the look” that fires one’s creative process. 
Where does your inspiration for your designs come from?
My designs use local items like preserved alligator heads, feathers, king cake babies and nutria pelts because people in Louisiana have a connection to them.  I designed and wore the nutria skirt and Gator Bustier to the Righteous Fur Fashion Show in Lafayette in October. Nutria pelts are so lovely to work with. The fur is extremely soft, and I try to incorporate it into my designs as much as possible
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

You use so many different elements in your creations.  How do you choose the materials for each design?
 I sold a Gator Headdress to someone in Bulgaria.  Through, I have sold nationally and internationally, so obviously other cultures have connections to the designs, as well. I also like the look of layers: feathers in background and alligator heads and other items in the foreground. I do have some standard designs, but sometimes, I start with a number of items and put them together in a totally different pattern which creates a new design. At times, I have no idea how a piece is going to end up. Adding and subtracting items until it feels just right. I have to keep materials on hand so they can be incorporated into designs. That means that I have to keep collecting and upgrading the materials that I work with.

What are your plans for Halfshell Productions after the 2012 Mardis Gras season ends?  
I love what I am doing right now.  My 2012 plans include creating new designs, working with new materials, and going to more markets to expand my client base.
If you need still some unique Mardi Gras attire or if you’re just interested in taking a look at some of her designs, be sure to check out Tracy Hamlin at Halfshell Productions on etsy.
Photo courtesy of Half Shell Productions

Elizabeth McNair

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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part Two

If you missed Part One check it out here.

So that sequined jacket I bought for my husband might be passable for other holidays, but for Fat Tuesday it’s a downright plain piece of clothing. A good base for sure, but let’s be real- the gaudier the better for Mardi Gras is my rule.

 I initially wanted to hand sew feathers onto the lapel and front flap pockets, but after sanity set in I realized that a few factors were working against me.

1. If it rains, all of my handiwork is destroyed
2. Sewing feathers is about as fun as getting a root canal.

So I decided on a combination of fringe and marabou to add some over the top details. Remember it’s not about having to start from scratch, just make it look like you did. First up was this great fringe that I bought. Not only is it hot pink, but there are sequins in there as well! Talk about going overboard, right?

Last year I transformed a woman’s sequined blouse into a sleeveless shirt. I vowed not to run sequins through my sewing machine again this year, so my only option was to hand stitch. It’s a good skill to practice anyway. 

Marabou feathers stay put on a cord, just like a feather boa. It’s much easier to sew through the cotton cord then hand stitch individual shafts down. While the effect is different, for my purposes this was just fine. I just needed something fluffy and fun vs. elegant. And you can’t do a flamingo costume without feathers, right?

Next week: tiny top hats for plush animals

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Making Mardi Gras: A Quasi DIY Part One

Mardi Gras isn’t some random Tuesday where everyone day drinks and goes to parades, although that is certainly part of it. It’s an entire Carnival season, steeped in revelry and traditions, some going back hundreds of years. 

I’m on the hunt for costume pieces year ’round. If I see something with potential I buy it, even if I don’t have anything specific in mind. This year I bought a flamingo hat during the summer, and while I was shopping for our Halloween costumes I found the sequined tux blazer for him. It’s all very serendipitous, which makes for the best costumes I think.

Flamingo hat, beaded jacket, oversize hoop earrings, men’s sequined tuxedo jacket

 Everything in the above image looks finished and ready to go right? Nope, not by a long shot. I never buy something off the rack and just wear it out- that’s a big no no in our house. While most sane folks wouldn’t even wear a sequined jacket on a dare, I see a plain tux just begging to be embellished.

Pants from Red White & Blue. Feathers, fringe, and flamingos from Jefferson Variety

Follow my adventures in craftiness this Carnival season with needle, thread, feathers, and more sequins than legally allowed each Thursday as I share the process of  transforming raw materials to Fat Tuesday worthy garments. Trust me, there is a method behind this madness.

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Mardi Gras Event- Costumes, Comedy, and Coffee

Need a costume? Of course you do, and don’t argue with me. Buffalo Exchange is hosting a Mardi Gras costume event on Friday, January 27th from 4:00-8:00pm that’s sure to give you plenty of inspiration for your own carnival ensemble. 
Burlesque performers Ariette Toulouse, Cherry Brown, and Cherry Bombshell will be on hand to serve king cake and coffee courtesy of Community Coffee while you browse the racks. At 7:00pm the ladies will be modeling the stores’ best costumes, with The New Movement providing hilarious commentary as part of their Raising Comedy Awareness extravaganza. Pretty girls, glitzy get-ups, caffeine, and comedians. What’s not to love? See y’all there!
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