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FROM COSTUMES TO FASHION: London Notting Hill Carnival

Notting Hill Carnival Fashion Trends

I have loved carnival fashion ever since my mum took me to my first Notting Hill Carnival when I was five years old. I have always been mesmerised by carnival, I love hearing the thumping rhythmic baseline of the soca & reggae music filling the streets of west London. I loved seeing the bright vibrant colours of the carnival costumes on the floats passing by and the delicious well-seasoned tantalising smell of Caribbean food especially the smoky jerk chicken teasing my nostrils, saying “Come eat me” Carnival is truly an amazing vibe.

What I love the most though is carnival fashion. I do love the carnival costumes too, but they are very costly running into the hundreds of pounds, so when I was a teenager each year, I would make my own carnival fashion for myself and my friends. I would come up with different themes for me and my friends. One year it was satin frills and another, it was African print. Just imagine a whole group of girls dancing in the streets, all wearing African print (when it wasn’t popular). It was magical.

This year I met two beautiful twins all the way from Paris who also made their own carnival fashion outfits. They reminded me of when I was a teenager designing and sewing carnival fashion for me and my friends. I absolutely loved the twin's sense of style, they maintained the essence of the carnival costume while also drawing inspiration from the source, AFRICA!

This year saw the 52nd annual event of the Notting Hill Carnival held every August over the Bank holiday weekend, it’s the time of year when millions of people dress up in vibrant colourful clothes representing their heritage from the Caribbean. So MamMaw took to the streets to see what people were wearing for their carnival fashion outfits, how they put their looks together and which styles were the most popular carnival fashion.

“The string vest” was worn by men with shorts or trousers. Originally in the early years of carnival, the string vest only came in white but as years went by the vest became available in the Rastafarian colours red gold & green and of course black.

Nowadays the string vest has moved on to the form of a dress, “The string dress” was super popular this year for carnival fashion.

It was nice to see ”Kente Print” making an appearance this year popular with men & women not just in clothing but also accessories too. We saw super cute headbands & matching chokers, and the essential carnival backpacks.

The men represented carnival fashion well this year by wearing the colour “African Print Shirts” and teaming them up with matching shorts or plain denim jeans.

And of course, there were flags everywhere, especially from the Caribbean. People used them as cloaks when they weren’t waving them to the music, I even met a girl whose uncle actually makes carnival fashion out of flags. She wore a dress/top that had short sleeves and a hood. Very innovative. I love it!

Guess the country of the flags and win a prize. Comment below with the correct answer.



Which countries do the flags above belong to? Name them all, comment below with your answers, go on. It’s easy.


Some other key trends for those that can rock it is the “Crop Top” a must for those who want to show others how good they can move that waistline. It’s all about “Less is more”. Crochet is big this year in keeping with that “Boho Chic” 60’s flower power look right on & far out! “Tribal-inspired geometric prints” are a must for any carnival or festival. I really loved the “Cut out” detail showing off your skin but not too much.

Which trend is your favourite? Comment below and let me know which style is your favourite.

Join the two million party-goers at Notting Hill Carnival 2023 on the 27th and 28th of August. Don’t miss out on the biggest street party in Europe! For more information about the carnival's history, costumes and attendance, visit the Notting Hill Carnival website. 

For more info visit The Notting Hill Carnival website.

Stay Beautiful,

Shantel MamMaw.