How To Do Fancy Dress

How To Do Fancy Dress.
Some people love it and some people loathe it, but we’ve all had to do it at some point or another.
As children we used to love getting dressed up as a fireman or a fairy or a princess. When I was young playing cowboys and Indians was totally acceptable as nobody had heard of political correctness back in the 1970s. So we all had cowboy hats and chaps and boots with spurs and pistols that shot caps with a sharp crack and the spicy smell of gunpowder. Oh, and some people had feathers and war paint, but they were the ones who died, after all.
One of my neighbours refuses ever to do any kind of fancy dress. This is because he once arrived at a party dressed as Jaws, in a wonderful shark’s head he had constructed himself from papier mache, only to discover all the other guests in tuxedos. Hint – in the States, fancy dress means black tie. If they want you to come as a shark they will use the words “Costume Party.” That information might be useful to know some day.
US Fancy Dress
US Costume. Get it right.
Me, I love fancy dress. I have a Jacobean chest in my dining room that is stuffed to the brim with such items as feather boas, military jackets, fur coats, fairy wings, pirate eye-patches and outrageous costume jewellery. Although I do not have a close relationship with my sewing machine, I do rather enjoy making such items as an octopus outfit, a mermaid’s tail, gold nugget spacesuit, a dinosaur and, my most ambitious project to date, a Queen of Hearts costume for a friend.
So what tips and hints do I have for you? (Photos from our 1980s themed party at our annual conference)
1) Just go for it! Go full out and don’t worry about looking stupid. Hopefully you will be among friends who will scream with laughter and their delight will be all the more if you’ve actually put some effort in. And don’t worry that somebody else will look the same. We had five Adam Ants on Sunday! (Yes, the little one is me!)
Three Full Adams and a Half Pint
A Romantic Adam
2) Accessories make up three quarters of your look. Here it is the necklaces, earrings, black gloves, dog collar, braces and wig that totally pull these outfits together.
Accessories maketh pop star
3) If you are concerned about not looking stupid, then try to find a character who is either very cool (er – do make sure you can do “cool”) or classic.
Just so cool….  the Fonz – 1980s looking back to the 50s
On a mission from God…
4) Being true to yourself is always good. If your clothing personality is Romantic then try a really sexy look, if Ingenue then go outrageously pretty. Make sure you get your colours right.
Jessica Rabbit: “I’m not bad, I’m just –  drawn that way.”
Channelling Dynasty/Dallas in such a pretty way
5) Find a character who you feel you could do with panache and style.
 Siouxsie Sioux – uncharacteristically smiling
Bonnie Tyler – giving up on heroes and holding out for champagne
Boy George puts Vulcan death grip on 80s air hostess (These are two of our directors, by the way!)
Clare Grogan and either a Carrington or a Ewing. Did she shoot JR?
6) If you do happen to be handy with your needle and the craft box then try something really different.
Rubik’s Cube (I used to be married to a man who could preach a sermon while solving a Rubik’s Cube – strange facts you could live your whole life without knowing…)
7) Give yourself time to prepare. Unless you are like me with a full chest to draw on (it almost saddens me to admit that the whole of my Adam Ant outfit came from that chest), you will need to hire in or buy or make. That takes preparation and time. Don’t let yourself panic.
8) If you really, really, really can’t stomach fancy dress, then either decline the invitation or be very sure that you will be happy to sit apart from the screams of merriment and delight from all those who have enthusiastically joined in the “fun”. You can wrap yourself in a cloak of smug superiority, after all! But – sadly – that doesn’t really count as fancy dress, does it? Unless you wear nothing underneath, when everyone will assume you’re the Emperor with New Clothes! Now – there’s an idea…
That’s it for this week. Have fun at your next fancy dress party!
Feedback and comments here please.

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