The Red Hot Mardi Gras Ball: Vixens and Villains is rapidly approaching. January 30th will be the date to get dressed up and head out to the Petroleum Club's La Marquise and celebrate the annual tradition known as Mardi Gras. If you're not a regular in the social circuit, you may have some questions regarding what constitutes cocktail attire.

You probably know by now that formal wear includes tuxedos and full length dresses, the flashier the better, but cocktail attire can be a little more subtle. Here are a few tips from Patricia Gannon, writer for The Advocate, with tips on how to make yourself fit in/stand out at the Red Hot Mardi Gras Ball:

Cocktail and Black Tie Made Easy

The biggest mistake the under-40 make is confusing cocktail with club. Yes, they serve cocktails in clubs but you don’t have to wear cocktail to drink them.

Cocktail attire for men is still a dark suit or good slacks with a jacket. Think James Bond. Suave is necessary, just as sultry is for women. Find a button-down shirt, and if it has French cuffs and cufflinks, all the better. No jeans, sneakers or caps unless you’re an L.A. film director.

Men's cocktail attire

For women, cocktail in its simplest form is a little black dress. A silky blouse and skirt will do, a little shine is fine and pull out the good jewelry. Cleavage is okay after dark and if you’re in New Orleans, it’s a requirement.

Black tie is Downton Abbey. That means a tuxedo for men and formal wear for women. Ladies, if the bloom is off the rose, settle for groundcover instead. Those bare-chested bosoms on the red carpet have been glued in place by experts. Restraint is elegant in the end.

Men from Texas can wear boots, jeans, and a Stetson with their tuxedo. Texas men pretty much do whatever they want.