What to wear to Notting Hill Carnival

Carnival outfits, costumes and fancy dress: our guide has all of your sequin, glitter and footwear needs covered for this year's Notting Hill street party
By Holly Hobkirk |
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Notting Hill Carnival outfits shouldn't be stressful. Compared to New Yorkers and Parisians, we Londoners have pretty free reign with what we wear. Socks with sandals on the Victoria line? Clashing prints on the the Number 38? Not an eyelid will bat. That being said, there are very few occasions when it's socially acceptable to look as though you've just skinned Big Bird for his beautiful plumage, which is one of the best things about Notting Hill Carnival: feathers, sequins and glitter are not only tolerated, they're positively encouraged. But before you reach for your Native American headdress, stop and check out our guide on what to wear to Carnival without looking like a twat. 

Create your Carnival outfit

Nike Roshe One Women's
Nike Roshe One Women's, £70, JD Sports

Carnival creps

Sadly, ballet pumps and sandals are an absolute Carnival no-go. Since you'll be walking for a long time, and you don't know what you'll be stepping on, it's best to go for a trusty pair of trainers. If you don't fancy chucking on an old pair, check out the brand new mulberry Nike Roshe Ones, exclusive to JD Sports. They'll be comfy enough to keep you going throughout the weekend, and they're colourful enough to fit in with the festivities.

Orange Pom-Pom Shoe Clips, £29, Cleo B
Orange Pom-Pom Shoe Clips, £29, Cleo B

Party pom-pom

You can wear sensible shoes without looking sensible. Liven up any old pair of trainers or boots with these unbelievably snazzy pom-poms. If you want to go all out, check out the full range of pom-poms, jewel clips and metal lace clips over at Cleo B.

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Aztec Sequin Shorts, £35, Jaded London
Aztec Sequin Shorts, £35, Jaded London

Prints, prints and more prints

Trade your denim shorts for this sequin tribal pair by Jaded London. They scream fiesta, and all you need to complete the look is a plain black tee, a bold lip, and a can of Red Stripe.

Clear Plastic Mac in Black, £15, boohoo
Clear Plastic Mac in Black, £15, boohoo

Stay. Dry

If last year was anything to go by, it would probably a good idea to bring something waterproof. With that said, you shouldn't let it ruin your look. Keep yourself dry and your outfit visible in this transparent rain mac from Boohoo.

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Hair Piece, £755, Piers Atkinson
Ballistic Feather Pom-Poms, Piers Atkinson, £755

Fascinating

For an easy Carnival hair look, simply pop a feathery hair accessory on and you're good to go. This multicoloured headband will liven up any outfit and have you carnival ready in seconds, but to be honest anything that comes out of Piers Atkinson's magical world of milinery will always be carnival appropriate.

holographic Bumbag, £16, Skinnydip
Bumbag, £16, Skinnydip

The bumbag

Bumbags are an essential for keeping your bits and bobs safe, and easier than dragging a bag through the crowds. Leaving your hands for dancing, drinking mojitos, eating jerk chicken – whatever takes your fancy. Instead of digging out the muddy one from the last time you went camping, go for something shiner, like this holographic number from Skinnydip.

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Feather Gilet, £95, Topshop
Feather Gilet, £95, Topshop

Plumage

If you aren't quite ready to go all out in a feathered headdress, pay homage by wearing this ombré feather gilet from Topshop. Viva la fiesta!

Mandala Crop and Skirt, £50 for the set, Motel
Mandala Crop and Skirt, £50 for the set, Motel

Matchy matchy

Patterned co-ords are the easiest go-to look for Notting Hill Carnival. Motel have a great selection, particularly this mandala print, also available in red. This outfit option is great if you don't want to splash all your money on something you'll only wear once.

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Sequin T-Shirt, £45, ASOS
Sequin T-Shirt, £45, ASOS

Sequin T

If the weather isn't playing nice, you might want to keep something sparkly on standby to jazz up a pair of jeans and a jacket. This ASOS T-shirt is neon and glitzy, so it's bound to get you noticed even if the skies are gloomy.

Carnival Outfit, eBay, £30-300
Carnival Outfit, eBay, £30-300

Full trouper

If you really want to go all out and embrace Carnival to the max, get your hands on a head-to-toe showgirl costume from eBay. You can find them stocked in various different e-stores, but make sure you get your hands on one ASAP, because they'll be flying off the shelves as Carnival approaches! If you want to turn heads, this blue set will certainly do the trick.

Essential Carnival information

Find your Carnival afterparty

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