Published on September 9th, 2015 | by Leanne Waller


Do Fancy Dress Events Work?

Maybe fancy dress events worked 20 years ago, but today I believe they need to be thought through carefully before asking people to dress as their favourite movie star, something starting with the letter ‘C’, Elvis, Morticia Addams or Superman.

They work better for private parties than for fundraising events because inhibitions are lower (or non-existent) and people may feel they have more of an obligation to attend a 21st for example.

With fundraising events however, people are paying to attend, and therefore, attending the event needs to be as appealing as possible.

Dressing up poses a few problems:

  • guests may not like dressing up – not all personalities like the idea of standing out
  • guests haven’t got the time, money, or more likely, the inclination to dress up … can be just too hard!
  • guests are more likely to make an effort if they like the idea of the theme, they relate to it, or it appeals to them

I assisted in the organising of a charity Masquerade Ball fundraiser. Some didn’t attend because they didn’t like the theme, and therefore weren’t prepared to make the effort to get a costume.

When people are at the event however, there is a certain dynamic and buzz that comes only from this novelty. Not only can the room be themed accordingly to create a great ambience, but there is also something to talk about, laugh at, discuss, break the ice with. When people get into the theme, they enjoy themselves more. But getting them to the event – in the right frame of mind – is the issue.

I would consider the guest demographic when asking for fancy dress. Are they really interested in dressing up as a flapper or hiring a gangster suit for the night?

I am currently working for One Girl Australia charity. Their major annual fundraiser is the “Do It In A Dress” campaign, where people do a challenge in a school dress while raising money, so that a girl in Africa can afford their own school dress (and receive an education). If they had a fundraiser that aligned with this event, they could theme the event ‘Back to School’ for example. There would be a purpose for dressing up. This is one example where fancy dress would work.

Fancy dress or no fancy dress? I would be looking for several alternative options before presenting recommendations to the organizers for signing it off!

A 'masquerade' themed 30th birthday party

A ‘masquerade’ themed 30th birthday party



A ‘masquerade’ themed 30th birthday party


Leanne Waller dancing with a friend at a 'masquerade' themed 30th birthday party

Leanne dancing with a friend at a ‘masquerade’ themed 30th birthday party


"Masquerade' Gala Ball Fundraiser

“Masquerade’ Gala Ball Fundraiser


Leanne Waller at "Masquerade' Gala Ball Fundraiser

Leanne at “Masquerade’ themed birthday party

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