Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Human Environmental Sciences

Degree Level



Apparel Merchandising and Product Development


Hubert, Stephanie

Committee Member/Reader

Powell, Robert

Committee Member/Second Reader

Garrison, Betsy

Committee Member/Third Reader


Committee Member/Fourth Reader



Mardi Gras organizations, known as krewes, organize yearly tableaus to present their maids, queens, and debutantes in lavish costumes (Dessens, 2018). For two centuries, the city of New Orleans was the stage for a rich Mardi Gras tradition, (Madden, 1874), however, the existing body of literature failed to establish a consensus on the meanings of the tableau. To explore this tradition, interviews were conducted with women who participated in New Orleans Mardi Gras as debutantes, maids, queens, and costume designers (Bates et al., 2017). After transcribing the interviews, the researcher communicated patterns in data through a thematic analysis. (Braun, 2006). As a result, the research highlighted findings regarding the Mardi Gras dressmaking tradition, its variations across different krewes, and its influence on the social identity of maids.

Beyond the external transformation, the Mardi Gras costuming experience resonated deeply with participants. For many of the women, the Mardi Gras tradition served as a pivotal moment, boosting their confidence, helping them adopt new roles, and strengthening their ties to their heritage and community. Additionally, many of the women expressed that these costumes, coupled with traditional Mardi Gras practices, transformed their identity. These traditions also provided a framework for understanding their place within a community and contributed to a sense of belonging across generations.

The limited racial diversity within the study group, five Caucasian women and one African-American woman is an aspect to consider due to its implications on the generalizability of the data collected. Moving forward, recognizing costume's role in cultural engagement can inform efforts to empower young women to express their identities, preserve traditions, and navigate identity formation.


Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras costume, identity, photo-elicitation, Mardi Gras maids, New Orleans