There's more to Mardi Gras than just parades, beads and King Cake. Each year the various Mardi Gras organizations or Krewes hold invitation-only balls. If you can manage to land an invite, your next …
There's more to Mardi Gras than just parades, beads and King Cake. Each year the various Mardi Gras organizations or Krewes hold invitation-only balls. If you can manage to land an invite, your next step is finding something to wear.
Mardi Gras ball attire for men is easy and only requires a trip to the nearest tuxedo rental shop. For ladies, it involves a little more work. Each organization has its own set of rules or dress code, but the majority require a full-length formal gown. A new formal gown can start around $500 and go up from there but there are plenty of ways to find a gown on a budget.
Kassie Gundlach, owner of Back on the Rack Upscale Resale in Fairhope, said the number one tip to keep in mind during your search is formal gowns are sized differently.
"Formal dresses generally run small especially some of the designer gowns. I always tell people the smallest size you want to start out with when searching for a gown is going to be your normal waist or jean size and then up at least two sizes. We are trying to fit our bust, waist and hips all in one. You must search for a gown that is going to fit the largest part of your body. Also, when shopping consignment, you never know what has been altered," Gundlach said.
The first place to start your search is with your friend network because there is sure to be a few friends that regularly attend Mardi Gras Balls. Woman typically wear a formal gown once so you might get lucky and find one to borrow or purchase.
The next place to look would be in the local consignment shops. Back on the Rack in Fairhope takes formal dresses in on consignment starting in December each year and carries a large stock of new boutique overstock dresses. Racks line the walls of their shop in Fairhope till the end of May. They also have a wide selection of shoes and accessories and staff that are willing to help you find the right dress.
"On average, our dresses usually run from $89 to $300 depending on the brand. I do have a few that are $49 or if I had them last season, I marked them down. A lot of people will check with me because they know if they find some of the little tags that are new boutique, they can scoop up a dress that is brand-new for half or less than the retail value," Gundlack said.
The final place to search for your budget friendly Mardi Gras is an online rental service like Rent the Runway. This online service allows you to input your measurements, sizes, event type and date and search available gowns. Rentals range in price from $30 and up depending on the style and designer. You also get a free second size dress just in case the first doesn't fit quite right. Using a service like Rent the Runway may feel like gambling but you can come out a winner wearing a $650 Badgley Mischka gown for $90. When your event is over just pop the dress into the garment bag, add the shipping label and drop it off to be shipped back.
Whether you choose a sleek satin number from a consignment store or a rented over-the-top beaded gown, Mardi Gras is a wonderful time to take advantage of getting dressed up and making memories.
Back on the Rack Upscale Resale – 407 Fairhope Ave., Fairhope, (251) 210-6680
Revolution Resale – 9 North Church St., Fairhope, (251) 990-4859