New Orleans loves an excuse to dress up in costume. Anyone who’s lived in town for more than one Carnival season has a trunk (or five) bursting with feathers, sequins and funny hats. The city’s sartorial flair extends beyond masking, though. It’s home to a host of cool indie designers, boutiques and brands that offer tons of opportunities to pick up something cool and unique to wear – even if you’re heading home to a town where Mardi Gras is just another Tuesday.
Trashy Diva sells its own line of vintage-inspired womenswear as well as slinky retro lingerie and shoes at half a dozen boutiques in the French Quarter and on the Magazine Street shopping strip. Gorgeously feminine dresses, from casual cotton to luxe bridal, are cut in the sophisticated silhouettes of the ’40s and ’50s.
Laid-back yet ladylike designs bring a playful freshness to the classic southern elegance of seersucker, which it uses in a dozen colors and even more styles: shorts, pencil skirts and flouncy dresses that are perfectly accessorized with a cold mint julep during a New Orleans summer.
Krewe du Optic uses the language of Mardi Gras – a “krewe,” like Rex or Zulu, is a social club that stages parades and festivities – to add a celebratory vibe to its locally-made chunky, funky eyewear. Artist Stirling Barrett designs every pair of sunglasses and eyeglasses himself, paying tribute to iconic designs like John Lennon’s round specs and Audrey Hepburn’s cat-eyes, infusing them with colorful, contemporary New Orleans style.
Look a little more closely at the animal embroidered on that guy’s polo shirt: that’s not a horse or an alligator. It’s a crawfish, and that means it comes from Perlis, a destination for the stylish men of New Orleans since 1939. The signature crawfish is stamped on dress shirts, ties, socks, belts and sweaters, as well as women’s and kids’ lines.