CARNIVAL THROWBACK: 12 Vintage Mardi Gras Costume Ideas

Mardi Gras costume selection can be a nerve-wracking experience.

Sometimes it helps to look back to the ghosts of carnival past for something fresh – and maybe just a little bit weird, a little bit creepy, or a little bit flashy. Here are some ideas to get your creative purple, green, and gold juices flowing.

1. Phone Head

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Nothing’s more vintage in the 21st century than a rotary telephone.


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Change the label out for Camellia Red Kidney Beans or PJ’s Coffee and you have yourself a New Orleans-themed costume.

3. Fountain of Youth

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This is where your craft skills come into play: you can easily use the catches from last year for the materials.

4. TWO Piece and a Biscuit

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How funky is your chicken, how loose is your goose? Your goose would be totally loose on Fat Tuesday with this costume.

5. Playboy easter Bunny

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Dress as a Playboy Bunny before Playboy Bunnies were cool.

 6. Whatever this is

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I have no idea what’s going on here, but the shoes tell me this is a Dutch-inspired costume. No matter what, you’ll probably be the only belle at the ball in this getup.

7. Low Budget Seaman

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Here is another chance for a cheap homemade outfit. Just grab an old white t-shirt and sweatpants and draw the outline of a 1940’s navy uniform. Voila!

 8. for the dapper dans

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Look dapper and festive in this vaudeville-era ensemble.

9. NYT Crossword Puzzle

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A lot of blood, sweat, and tears will go into making this costume, but think of all the time wasted between parades when you could be doing your own personal crossword puzzles. Make it a group activity and place the puzzles on every inch of your body. Who knows, one-down may cross two-up and boom! you’ve found your Mardi Gras date.

10. SPACE-AGE Cockroach

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Again, I don’t know what’s happening here, but the silver might distract the float riders enough that they’ll drop their throws. At least you won’t have to flash your boobs for ’em.

11. Cleopatra in denial

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Perhaps this could be the start of a great couples’ costume. Cleopatra needs her Anthony.

12. For the Kids

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Is it just me, or does it seem like the kiddos are dressing up less and less these days? Bring them back to the party outfitted in a 1940s and ‘50s sci-fi inspired costume. Relive the good old days when kids idealized Howdy Doody and Scarlet O’Hara.