Planning a party? Here's why you should add a dress code

After two years of the pandemic, the spirit of celebration is at an all-time high. And the re-emergence of theme parties means everyone is putting the most stylish foot forward


By Sujata Assomull

Published: Thu 7 Jul 2022, 10:32 PM

When an invite reads, “Party Like it’s 700 BC”, you know it’s going to be an evening to remember. Plus, you simply want to dress as per the theme because the last sentence on the invitation clearly states ‘Costumes Required’. The costume party is back... and how. All those fashion pundits who thought we would never get out of our loungewear obviously got it wrong. Dubai is a city that loves to dress up, so the idea of casual wear becoming a norm may have been a little far-fetched. As we now learn to celebrate every moment, the theme party has become the way we want to party. “What Covid-19 has done is that it has renewed the desire to socialise, to spend time with others and celebrate every moment. And people want to do things bigger, better and more beautifully than ever before,” says Sahiba Narang, director at Fete Events, one of the city’s leading events design and production companies.

As we get ready to socialise again, and hold gatherings — both intimate and extravagant — what better way to add a sense of occasion than incorporating a dress code? “When people come together now it is all about having fun. Though after lockdown many of us did wonder if we would be able to go back to social interactions again,” says fashion stylist Samantha Francis. A theme party also acts as an ice breaker, it gives everyone something to talk about and is a bond that brings everyone together. “I think theme parties are a way of giving structure as well as adding an element of fun,” says Francis. Plus, she feels lockdown forced us all to spend a lot of time on social media platforms such as Pinterest and we now want to be able to activate these ideas “in real life”. “When you sit at home, ideas happen, people get creative and theme parties are away to express all the creativity we have been holding in for a while,” says the stylist.


In pre-Covid time, a theme party was perhaps reserved for landmark birthdays or larger events. Today, themes are being added to big and small events — from a wedding to a dinner party at home. The challenges and a sense of loss have given a new sentiment to the age-old saying, “life is too short”, and we no longer feel as though we need an occasion to dress up and have fun. Kat Lebrasse, founder of Co Lab, a social media marketing consultancy, recently attended a sequins and suits-themed party and found that all invitees had made an effort to adhere to the dress code. “A dress code adds an extra element of fun and potential silliness,” she says. “People want to let their hair down right now.” And after being stuck at home for a while, we are all ready to try something that gets us out of our comfort zone. “It’s definitely this renewed enthusiasm for celebration,” adds Narang. “Dubai has always had incredible parties and jam-packed social calendars, so people really felt the absence of that during those periods of lockdown. Now they want to completely immerse themselves in the experience.”

A futuristic waiter as conceptualised by Fete Events for a do


Apparently, the costume party is being embraced by all ages. “Gen Z has brought a shift in dressing,” says Francis. On Instagram, Francis is known as @styleisnecessity. The millennial has a more minimalist take on fashion. “For us, feeds have to be perfectly curated. That is not the Gen Z approach, it is more about being individualistic and thinking out of the box. We liked nudes and monotones; they love bold colours.” And a dress-up party gives them a platform to be imaginative, plus it allows for some unique social media captures even if you are hosting a smaller or more budget-driven events. Of course, if you are not concerned about the size or cost, you can go to town with the theme. As Narang says, “We are in the midst of creating a Goldilocks and the Three Bears baby shower for a couple who missed out on celebrating the arrivals of their first two children. Their third child is on its way, and they’re going big to celebrate for all three!”

Decor is of utmost importance


There are some rules to hosting a theme party. First, you must give enough notice to invitees. Two weeks should be the minimum time frame, so guests can plan. And if you are expecting your guests to dress up, reciprocate by creating an ambience that matches the efforts your guests have put in. A host should pick a theme that speaks of his or her personality, one they know invitees will enjoy too. And if you are invited to a theme party, you should make an effort to look the part, even if it is only with hair and makeup. Lebrasse admits to enjoying pulling out all the stops when attending a party with a dress code. “The worst thing is having a theme and then having 90 per cent of the people not adhere to it.” Among some of the more popular themes right now are based on a destination (as we have not travelled in a while), or the roaring 20s (as it is a period in history we can really empathise with right now).

While the pandemic has made us all want to go out there and enjoy every moment, it has also made us realise that we need to rethink our own consumption habits, particularly when it comes to how we buy clothes. Fashion as an industry has come to be known for its contribution to pollution and waste, and that is down to us buying more clothes than we need. Which is why a theme party should not be an excuse to go online and make a quick purchase. Amanda Rushforth is a Dubai-based sustainable fashion advocate and also works as an environmental consultant. “There are plenty of personalities we can create with our existing wardrobes by using just a little bit of imagination, but if you are really missing something, I’d recommend shopping at your local thrift store, second-hand outlet or online through second-hand Facebook groups,” she suggests. “There’s bound to be someone you know with a costume closet you can borrow from too.”

While a costume party should be about a night of creating some great memories, that does not mean you feel forced to buy something new.

Sujata Assomull

Published: Thu 7 Jul 2022, 10:32 PM

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