The little black dress has long been an important wardrobe staple, but this weekend — for women and men alike — it’s all about the LRD, little red dress.
For the 23rd year, New Orleans Hash House Harriers, a “drinking club with a running problem,” will host the New Orleans Red Dress Run for charity starting Saturday at 9 a.m. The popular event features a new route this year that starts and ends at Crescent Park on the Mississippi riverfront, something organizers hope will help a bit with the battle against the August heat.
A mix between a charity run and a pub crawl — with a strong emphasis on the pub part — almost anything goes at the Red Dress Run when it comes to attire, as long as it’s red. Local consignment store vendors and participants point to a few trends, however, for fast and fashionable gear in the spirit of the day.
No. 1 is the tutu. Sassy and lightweight, with a stretchable waistband — not to mention ideal for the heat— tutus have long been a favorite, especially for men, who may struggle to find a cute little red number in their size.
Claudia Baumgarten, owner of Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing and Costumes on Magazine Street, said she started posting red dress options available in her store on the store’s Facebook and Instagram accounts three weeks ago.
“Men come in with plans to wear a tutu, but they don’t always think about what they’re going to wear underneath,” she said. “For that, we have a large selection of ruffled drawers and sequined shorts — all available in larger sizes.”
Outside of finding something in the right size, the mid-August weather is the biggest driving force when it comes to choosing your red running gear.
This means long dresses are largely out.
“Last year, in particular, we noticed that nobody wanted to buy anything below the knee,” said Denise Lyons, store manager at Buffalo Exchange on Magazine Street. Lyons said the annual event is a boon to the store, which boasts 300 to 400 red dress options. “We have another 250 to 350 in the back of the store, too, just waiting for room.”
For both men and women, skimpier options are popular — including bras and tank tops. For those who opt for more coverage, cotton is a must.
Annapolis Maryland resident Joe Ellis and his wife, Kristen, have been bringing a group down to do the New Orleans Red Dress Run for nine years now. Ellis said the group varies between 25 and 35 of their friends and family and all are dressed identically.
“We wear red tutus and a custom red shirt with a fleur de lis using the Maryland flag,” he said. “We have runs up here, but it’s just not the same. The music, the food — nobody does it like New Orleans.”
With all the men and women in tutus and dresses, a very important staple has popped up in red dress wear — the fanny pack.
“We order red fanny packs in bulk,” said Baumgarten. “They’re always a big seller.”
But a fanny pack is far from the only red accessory you’ll see at the Red Dress Run. Since costuming is its own religion in New Orleans, it’s all about finding the right items to express your own style and set yourself apart from the red wave.
Wings, wigs, feather headbands, turbans, kitty ears, tiny top hats, knee highs — you’ll find them all out on the route, which runs down Esplanade this year and into the French Quarter.
“We always tell people about the guy we saw our first year,” said Ellis. “He was this huge guy wearing only a tutu, suspenders and a red plastic fireman’s hat, and he was whacking people with this giant red whiffle ball bat.”
Strictly open to those 21 and older, the Red Dress Run is definitely a place to go wild. In costuming, past standouts have ranged from an elaborate Queen of Hearts to a woman dressed as a spider in a costume made of red hot water pipes.
The run is not just a fun way to spend a Saturday. It's emerged as a powerful fundraising event that has brought in more than $1 million for more than 100 local charities.
For this reason, event organizers cannot stress enough the importance of actually registering for the event. For non-Hash House Harriers, registration is $60 online before the event and $65 the day of.
Only by registering will you get to enjoy live music from Brass-A-Holics and Remedy, an “endless supply of beer” and a catered meal.
Plus, you’ll know that you, and that giant, hairy man running next to you in heels, are doing something great for your city.
New Orleans Red Dress Run
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12
Where: Starts at Crescent Park
Cost: $60 plus $3 processing fee; $65 (cash only) for registration day of event