Finding Masquerade Costumes

Woman Wearing Masquerade Mask

Masquerade costumes are very popular for Mardi Gras, carnivale, Halloween and masquerade parties. Masquerades make people think of grand ball gowns and beautiful masks, and it's a great theme for a party or a costume.

Buying Costumes for Masquerades

There are many sources for these costumes online and at local costume shops. If you are going to buy a costume, be prepared to shell out a good bit of money. Women's costumes, especially, involve a lot of fabric, and thus a lot of expense.

Here are some sources to look at for buying costumes for masquerade-themed events:

  • A Masquerade: Purchase new (unworn) costumes or previously worn rentals that have been cleaned.
  • Annie's Costumes: In addition to a large selection of costumes in sizes from children's to plus sizes, Annie's Costumes features a wide selection of masks.
  • Buy Costumes: Another good Mardi Gras specific vendor, Buy Costumes offers costumes, masks, wigs and hats, or even Mardi Gras beads.
  • Century Novelty: Add some glitz to your masquerade outfit with a feather boa or mask or browse their costume selection for that perfect garment.
  • Costume Gallery: If you are looking for exceptional authentic period pieces, you will be delighted by the selection offered by Costume Gallery. With over 15 years experience in providing costumes for theatrical and operatic events, they are bound to have a costume to suit your fancy.
  • Costumes 4 Less: Browse the large selection of medieval and Renaissance costumes or pick up a few props or hats to accessorize a costume you already own.
  • Mardi Gras Costumes: With a specialty in all things related to Mardi Gras costumes, this vendor is a perfect one stop costume shop.
  • The Costumer: Catering to the public as well as the scholastic and professional theater trade, The Costumer offers costumes, accessories and even theatrical makeup.

Renting Costumes

The most budget-friendly option for masquerade and Mardi Gras style costumes is to rent costumes. Unless you are going to a masquerade ball every year and don't mind wearing the same costume over and over, it makes a lot more sense to just rent a costume each time you need one. That way you get to play with different time periods and different kinds of costumes without blowing your budget every time you need a new outfit.

Check your local costume shops for rental opportunities if you have a costume shop that is open all year. Some websites that provide rental services are:

  • A Masquerade provides costume rentals that span a range of time periods from the Renaissance to 1980s in addition to general costumes.
  • The Costumer: According to their website, they stock over 80,000 costumes that are available for rental, and in many cases, they are able to send you a digital photo of the costume so you have a visual before making your decision. Complete instructions for taking your measurements and arranging your rental can be found on their site.
  • Costumes Galore: If you are looking for an unusual, one of a kind costume, you will love the selections offered by Costumes Galore. While they are primarily a costume rental service, they do offer some costumes for sale as well.

Renting costumes to attend a masquerade event is like going to Cinderella's ball-all dressed up for one night but without the budget headaches of buying a great masquerade ball gown for life.

Types of Costumes

The most popular masquerade costumes are inspired by the heyday of the masquerade, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. For that reason you'll often see people at masquerades dressed in huge, fancy ball gowns and old-fashioned tuxedos with long coats or tails and top hats.

Other period costumes are also popular, such as Victorian-era costumes, antebellum-era dresses, even Renaissance outfits (the tradition did start during the Renaissance, after all) or flapper-style garments.

Other popular choices for masquerade costumes are king and queen costumes. Because the masquerade ball is linked to Mardi Gras, costumes that would be appropriate for that celebration are often acceptable as costumes as well, such as colorful jester outfits or ruffled dresses with a Latin American flair.

Make Your Own

If you are the creative type, you might enjoy making your own costume with items you have at home or can buy inexpensively. Here's some tips on how to pull together the perfect costume:

  1. Plan your costume on paper first. Will you be a lady in waiting or a regal queen? To create authentic period pieces, you need to know the type of character you will be and some basic information about the historical time frame. To create a more generic costume, choose a character like a pirate or a peasant. Next, jot down ideas on basic items that would be worn by your character: dress or slacks, headgear, socks and footwear.
  2. Check the stock at local costume stores or costumers online to get some ideas of the types of costumes that are available for your character. Analyze the pieces of the costumes, and jot each separate item on your list. Remember to include important accessories such as jewelry, hats or crowns, or swords or scepters that complete the look.
  3. Now you are ready to go shopping, but you want to start by looking in your attics, closets and jewelry boxes to see how many of the items you need you can find at home. Cross those items off your list, and then head to your local thrift and secondhand store to find the rest. Half the fun of making your costume is searching for the items!

Some items to be on the lookout for that are perfect for making masquerade-style outfits are:

  • Tiaras
  • Vintage or antique jewelry
  • Rhinestone jewelry
  • Shawls
  • Full-length ball gowns
  • Capes
  • Lacy corsets
  • Dresses with buttons down the entire front or back
  • Dresses with lace-up bodices

Put all the pieces together and try on your costume. If you are not quite satisfied with the look, remember you can add belts, jackets or vests, scarves or more jewelry to pull it all together.

Masquerade Costume Accessories

Masquerade Masks

Of course a masquerade wouldn't be a masquerade without masks. Masks can be simple paper or plastic masks that just cover the eyes or a much more elaborate mask with feathers or sequins that covers more of the face. Some masks even do double duty as headdresses. Other accessories that might be appropriate for your costume include:

  • Crowns
  • Hats
  • Wigs
  • Scepters or other symbols of royalty
  • Fans
  • Short, mid or full-length gloves
  • Sparkly jewelry

Timeless Fun

Masquerade costumes are about going all out and wearing something glamorous and fun. That doesn't mean you have to spend a ton of money, but looking and feeling a little richer is certainly in order.

Finding Masquerade Costumes