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Horse-racing has long been an activity of the rich and famous and, a few times a year, for the rest of us to get involved in too. Ladies Day at Aintree is one of those events, but in a new move, the ‘authorities’ have been trying to change the nature of the Aintree dress code. Over the past couple of decades it’s become one of the biggest events of the year, with the ladies, in particular, wearing some extravagant outfits that combine fancy dress with high couture to create stunning fusions of popular culture and high camp.


That’s no longer so popular. For the second year in a row, the race organisers, who have the Grand National as their key race, are offering massive prizes, including a Range Rover, to the best dressed woman, in the hope of getting racegoers to move from their brash and sometimes bawdy outfits to something entirely more restrained and elegant.


Well, it’s almost here again! Whilst older readers might remember when St Paddy’s was an almost uncelebrated event in the UK, that’s all changed recently. Today, while we might not have weekend-long events like those in New York, most British cities are keen to celebrate the life of St Patrick in what has become the traditional fashion, fancy dress, parades and green food!


If you're new to St Patricks Day, a good place to start is Irish folklore … from leprechauns to shamrocks, from green face paint to pots of gold, St Patricks Day Fancy Dress offers something for everyone, from the shy costume wearer (anything green will do) through to the committed Irish fan … full curly red beard, green hat and shamrocks everywhere. Given how grey and miserable March can be, it’s a great idea to plan a fun party. Organising an Irish themed party is one of the easiest things you’ll ever do because the Irish culture lends itself naturally to dancing, singing, costumes and fun.

Valentines Fancy Dress and World Book Day


Valentine’s Day is seen by many men as a soppy commercial event, but it needn’t be that way. There’s an increasing trend to link Valentine’s Day to CosPlay events - where couples choose to wear a costume relating to a famous imaginary or real couple, think Shrek and Princess Fiona, Han Solo and Leia or Bonnie and Clyde.


This offers men a kind of freedom to explore their more romantic side without having to wear a costume that inhibits them, so if you’re attending a fancy dress party this year, why not discuss the CosPlay characters that are available to you and maybe put together enough accessories to allow you to really invest in your costume. We’ve seen some fab Shrek and Fiona couple dances which are always the hit of the evening at a romantic party! It’s a way for couples to reconnect and have some fun together and that’s always a good thing.


World Book Day 2016


Are your kids celebrating World Book Day on Thursday 3 March 2016? Many schools in the UK now participate in the UNESCO designated day which encourages reading in all ages. For most schools this means inviting the kids to dress up as their favourite character from a book. We’ve got an awesome range of costumes available from Bilbo Baggins to princesses.


But that’s not all you can do. While sending your child to school in book related fancy dress is fun, just think about having a theme tea when they get home … and then playing a board game, reading the book or watching the film for which they have chosen their fancy dress costume. Even more fun, greet them in an adult costume that fits in with their chosen World Book Day one and spend the whole evening talking to each other in character!


Adding extra activities to your child’s school World Book Day event will really bring the concept of literature and imagination to life for your child and it also gets a lot more value out of their costume than just a day spent wearing it to school!


Fancy dress controversy


More than 800 students at the University of Edinburgh have signed a petition requesting the return of free speech to their social lives.  The problem? Student Union leaders have imposed a crack-down on fancy dress events, which are commonplace at most UK universities, giving a list of characters and real life individuals that Edinburgh students should not costume themselves as, including: Mexicans, gangsters, Native Americans, and rapper Chris Brown!


Why the list? Apparently there have been a series of scandals resulting from students ‘blacking up’ for a number of characters and now the Edinburgh University Student’s Association (EUSA) has created a new policy to try and prevent further upsets - the policy states, 'You may not intend to hurt anyone when picking out your costume, and you may not even think there's a problem, but it's important to consider the impact your choices will have.’

If you love fancy dress (and we at definitely do!) then why not let this year be the year you take your dressing up to a new level?


Resolution 1 - have more fun next New Year


There are a couple of ways that you can really ramp up your fancy dress experience in the year ahead. One way is to attend one of the UK’s famous Fancy Dress New Year’s parties. This year we went to Weymouth to see what was happening there … and it was a blast!


The traditional New Year’s Eve fancy dress party  seems to have had several thousand people enjoying the town’s pubs and bars despite some rather unpleasant weather. Costumes included:

Bill and Ben, Cowboys and Indians (with the twist of zombie Cowboys and Indians showing up several times) Garfield and his friends and Super-heroes. Probably the two biggest costume choices over the evening were minions and Star Wars. People travel from all over the UK (and mainland Europe) to take part in the fun and from Viking hordes to the numerals 2016, a great time was had by all.


But that’s only half the fun. The Dorset Echo newspaper runs a competition where people can enter selfies of their fancy dress costume to win prizes. There are five categories and each winner gets £100 in vouchers to be spent in the Weymouth area. So next year you could dress up, win big and have fun all at the same time!

Darts Fancy DressThe Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally) is no stranger to fancy dress - but the World Darts Championship  brings a whole new level of dressing up to one of the world’s best known venues. Nobody is quite sure why darts, in particular, has become a fancy dress spectator sport but it’s a joyous and sometimes quite weird experience to watch the cameras pan across the crowds supporting their favourite players like Phil (The Power) Taylor and Michael (Mighty Mike) van Gerwen.


One of the great features of this event is the group costuming that takes place. From its beginnings when one or two people in the crowd dressed up, often in pantomime outfits, the Ally Pally darts bash has become a group fancy dress extravaganza. This year is no exception - while there have been some wonderful creative costuming attempts, such as the box of crayons, and some superhero sets that were really impressive, the notable feature of this year’s championship was the face-painting, particularly the dartboard costumes where people spent hours creating dartboard faces and the minions - some of those single eyes were so good they were creepy! Good make-up can take your fancy dress to the next level, and we’ve got a family sized face paint kit to make it easier for you to achieve something really spectacular.

 But as ever, the winner in the costume cool stakes came down to this year’s top film - the storm troopers!

If you dress up as Father Christmas once a year, we salute you -  that’s the right and proper thing to do, at Christmas. Apart from anything else, should you get caught setting out the presents or filling the stockings on Christmas Eve, you might get away with passing for Santa Claus himself!


Apart from that use for your Santa suit, you can attend fancy dress parties as Father Christmas and the honest truth is that this is the one time of year when you can’t have too many Santas, can you?

Now we’ve seen everything! This is Guus the duck. He’s Dutch, thinks he’s a dog (or a human) and apparently likes to dress up in fancy dress costumes.

 Guus the duck

His owner, 20-year-old Sam Pronk, also has two dogs, which Guus has spent time with since he was a duckling which explains why Guus is confused about his species, but that doesn’t explain why he’s so willing to put on fancy dress and be photographed!

Dresser to the stars dresses kids like stars


You may not have heard of Monica Rose but she’s the dresser who pours the Kardashians into their outfits. So what did she dress her kids as for Halloween this year? Well … Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears actually, in their 2001 American Music Awards outfits. In previous years her daughter, Alaia Rose has gone out trick or treating dressed as both Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (that took a bit of split-screen trickery on Instagram) and even as Karl Lagerfeld.


No doubt it’s amazingly clever, but we wonder if Alaia Rose wouldn’t rather have been dressed as something simpler, like Elsa from Frozen, like every other little girl we saw this week! Because when she’s grown up, it won’t be much fun for her to have to explain her costume to everybody who looks at her kiddy pictures - that’s why the perennial favourites: princesses, nurses, fairy story characters like Little Red Riding Hood, are top choices for little girls, the keep alive the idea of dress up in a way that more clever costumes just don't.

Halloween High Jinks in fancy dress

Did Halloween whet your appetite for fancy dress parties? Then you’re not alone. Did you know that online fancy dress retailers like are busier in the weeks after Halloween?  I think it’s the experience of dressing up for Halloween that reminds us how much fun we have in costume and so we go all out to start planning a big fancy dress party for christmas or a costume event for New Year.


So what do the celebrities do? Well Heidi Klum definitely goes for it in a big way and this year is no exception - she dressed up as Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit - and she looked spectacular!  Dressing up as a star is always fun, and when that star is also a cartoon character, you can really make a splash. Jessica Rabbit is a hard ask though, as you have to look pretty well perfect to pull that costume off. If you’d like to attend your next party as a cartoon character and you’re not quite ready to reveal that much flesh (or if your flesh is not in the same stunning package as Heidi’s) why not try a more forgiving persona such as Wilma or Betty from The Flintstones. These Flintstones fancy dress costumes are just as much fun, and equally feminine but require less time spent defining your six pack! Even better, if you have a family group, you can find yourself a Fred and a Barney, a Pebbles and a Bam-Bam and make it a proper show!


Football stars dress like winners

In a surprise double whammy, Liverpool beat Chelsea 3-1. That was the first wham. The second one was the players’ party after the match, when the Liverpool Football team all dressed up for Halloween - it shows just how hard those players play, doesn’t it? Whether on the pitch or in fancy dress costume, they go all out and get results!

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