Mardi Gras Ballin on a Budget

Now that Mardi Gras season is in full swing, Mardi Gras balls seem to be a weekly occurrence.

Lafayette's Krewe of Rio kicked the festivities off this past weekend with their ball. I'm not a regular ball-goer, but I know it's a lot of fun to find the perfect formal gown for the occasion.

However, finding a gown can be sometimes difficult or expensive...and it doesn't have to be!

Shopping sustainably can help save you money and save a dress from being worn once and stashed in the back of your closet for years. Here are some options if you're shopping for a Mardi Gras ball, or any upcoming formal, including prom! These also work for finding accessories and shoes to complete your outfit.

Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway is my go-to source when I have an out-of-the-ordinary occasion coming up. When my husband and I attended a ball three years ago, I found this gold sequin Badgley Mischka gown with a rental cost a fraction of the retail price. This dress was higher than my usual rental budget, but I'm also not usually renting formal gowns.

When I rented this dress, Rent the Runway's customer service was extremely helpful in sending me a third size when the original two sizes didn't work out for me. It wasn't the most eco-friendly option to have a dress overnighted, but it was better than losing out altogether and being without a dress days before the ball.

It's best to shop Rent the Runway early, now that it's one of the most popular shopping spots for Mardi Gras, but even closer to the event date, you can find a dress that works for your budget.

Local consignment shops

The Clothing Loft in Lafayette has a formal gown section, and although I've never shopped it, I've found some great cocktail and party dresses there. I feel like this is a fun hidden gem in Lafayette, and it may still have a great selection of dresses and accessories. With many designer names, the price tag can be a little higher, but you're still getting a great deal on a secondhand dress.

Clothes Mentor is another secondhand shop that has a selection of formal gowns at great prices.


While each Goodwill retail store carries slightly different items based on their donations, at least some stores in the region carry formal gowns. If you're interested in thrifting at Goodwill, give the store a call first to confirm they have gowns available. This is a great budget-friendly option.

Friend/relative closets

One of my friends attended the Krewe of Rio ball this past weekend, and last week, shared that she hadn't found a dress yet. She ended up finding a fabulous and classic dress in one of the best places - her sister's closet. Borrowing from a relative or friend's closet is awesome because it's almost always free, and you can return the dress so it doesn't sit in your closet.

I've borrowed cocktail dresses from friends for weddings before and it's one of my favorite eco-friendly options.

If you do borrow from a friend or relative, be courteous and have the dress cleaned before returning it. Check out this blog post I did on GreenEarth Cleaning and find an affiliated dry cleaner near you!


Facebook Marketplace and your friend feed can both be great resources to find a secondhand gown. Every year, I see a lot of friends posting that they're in search of a gown in a particular size, and their friends will come through with store recommendations or offers from their own closets. The Marketplace has plenty of dresses for sale, and the bonus is that you can pick it up locally.

Reuse bridesmaid gowns

Bridesmaid gowns are notorious for only being worn once, but they can make great options for formal events. Break out that dress from a wedding you were in a few years back and accessorize it to work for Mardi Gras.

The Lafayette Mom even has a post today from a local mom about how she's reworn a convertible bridesmaid dress for numerous Mardi Gras balls over the past few years. A great eco-friendly and thrifty way to go.

If you've got dresses in the back of your closet that you no longer wear, help complete the loop and donate or sell them so others can wear them!

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