The Problem with Themed Parties

The Problem with Themed Parties

An invite comes along in the mail and the word ‘THEME:”, capitalised, followed by a punctuated colon (for dramatic effect) make your eyes halt for a minute before reading on to reveal what the dreaded concept is going to be this time. Whether the event is (another) birthday party or a networking party for work, once the cursed T-word pops up, one needs to determine which type of theme is decidedly worse: the time period theme, the colour theme or the vague up-to-interpretation theme. 

Also at these themed parties, there are three types of people – those who go all out and embrace the theme in all its glory; those who decide no one cares about what they are wearing and those who are stuck in the middle toeing the line of simultaneously standing out and fitting in. Deciding the social category to justify one’s social standing is another puzzle to unravel. 

The Time Period Theme 


The go-to time-based theme in recent years has been retro and this has been relatively easy to tackle given the amount of nostalgic throwbacks seen on the runway and off the rack. Characterised by bell bottoms; suspenders; oversized eye frames; bright colours and colour blocking, finish the look with a curled mop of hair paired with a brooch and you’re ready to go. However, we all know Murphy’s Law works in mysterious ways and the next invite to a time-themed party might just be ‘Back to the Future’. Well, be damned.  

The disillusion of the swinging sixties and the nostalgic reminders leave one to mention – no amount of reminiscing at a party will bring back the past and certainly not one from your parent’s time. The fixation on a specific time period, especially one you might have never lived through can be difficult. Consider adding a splash of modernity from current wardrobe staples to add a tad bit more flair and personality than wearing the label of “just another strict theme-following attendee”. 

The Colour Theme

Dolce & Gabbana

RED. This writer’s first foray into an actual fashion party had a colour theme and did she mention how hard it was looking for a red outfit? Too striking to be worn again for another event, this very colour had to be scoured through the depths of the internet and physical shops just to be able to find “the right one”. Not to mention actually wearing the outfit. Walking along the gallery to the event itself was kind of embarrassing to say the least. Walking along with a few other people with the same recurring colour for the event, made it seem as though Chinese New Year came a month too late.  

Maybe a neutral colour like white would have been better? You might end up looking like a (fallen) angel. No matter what the colour, any coloured theme party runs the risk of one looking bad, pictures falling flat, and looking terribly tacky. Rather than focusing on the most iconic shade of the colour, attempt to use shades to offset the specificity. Experiment with shades of the colours like off-white, mustard or wine, and you might just end up looking less of try-hard than you actually are. 

The Vague Up-to-Interpretation Theme

Saint Laurent 

Two words “Las Vegas”. The first thing this writer thought of when she heard this theme the other day was Caesar Palace and the casino in Excalibur Hotel. And strippers. Many, many strippers in fact. Obviously, one would not be expected to wear tearable (terrible) clothing. Perhaps she could have gone for a flashy outfit with gold and silver details, but the vagueness of the theme made it extremely unappealing to think of any reason to put effort into the outfit planning. 

Using themes like “hipster” isn’t going to help move the party theme forward. Party-goers would be scrambling to search “What is hipster 2019” on Google because all anti-conformists and advocates of subculture end up looking like a reflection of what could have been popular in a certain past. Our suggestion? Wear whatever your heart desires. This seemingly disastrous party with people neither fitting in nor standing out is the perfect opportunity for one to attempt something different. That desirable Saint Laurent SS’19 Saharienne leather jacket on your wish-list has a bohemian vibe that was “hipster” in the 80s. So, let’s do it. When it comes down to the party, one just needs a good #OOTD to remember the night. 


Granted, themes are set for a cohesive tone throughout the party and also influences many other non-clothing decisions like food and decor. With all the above, this writer maintains that themed parties can be enjoyable if the host sets reasonable expectations for guests to enjoy themselves. Life is one big party after all, and we’re all just headed out to have some lighthearted fun.