If you are coming on down for Mardi Gras, you will have a lot of fun whether or not you choose to "mask." Many locals have traditions of making their own, sometimes very elaborate, costumes, and the whole family is included. If, like me, you are not that talented or simply don't have the time, there are some shops here that sell colorful costumes and masks, to help you get into the spirit.
New Orleans Party and Costume:
New Orleans Party and Costume Shop is right in the heart of the CBD, near both the Quarter and the Warehouse District. Its address is 705 Camp Street, (504)525-4744. The shop has an array of outfits from the elaborate to the more simple--you can be a king, a vampire, or a penguin. Children's costumes are available, as are wigs, makeup, and other supplies.
Uptown Costume and Dancewear:
Located at 4326 Magazine Street, near Napoleon, Uptown has been a staple in the costume business for years. Many guys love the oddball Mardi Gras tuxedos, and there are a lot of fun monster masks, crazy wigs, etc.
Carl Mark Presents has been around for a while, but has really grown since the movie industry boomed in New Orleans and has a great collection of costumes for purchase or rental.
This store is located in the French Quarter at 831 Decatur Street. The masks you find here are not the quality found in the T-shirt shops, and are really matters of artistry. You can have your own mask custom made.
New Orleans Masks:
Here you will find handmade works of art for any occasion. Besides masks, the shop has headdresses, tiaras, hats, and jewelry. In the aftermath of Katrina, the shop is currently doing business online at New Orleans Masks.
If your tastes run a little more retro, this shop may be just what you are looking for. Not precisely a costume shop, Funky Money is located at 3127 Magazine Street. This vintage clothes shop is for the edgier personality--you can get a classic concert tee, '50s tops, flower power from the '60s, and rock wear of the'80s. There are some original designs also, along with wigs, handbags, stockings and shoes.
The French Market's Annual Mask Market
Every year on the weekend before Mardi Gras, the French Market hosts a Mask Market that brings in Mask vendors from all over the country. It's not only a great place to buy a mask, but it's a fun time because there's live music and food booths.