The Dos and Don’ts of Irish Fancy Dress Costume Design

Whether for good or for ill, we have always faced a lot of stereotyping in Ireland. Indeed, it’s a good thing we are a nation that can poke fun at ourselves, as the whole idea of a nation full of leprechauns and Guinness drinkers can be somewhat silly. Most Irish people don’t mention the “L-word” too often, so we tend to leave the leprechauns to the tourist shops.

Of course, be it on St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, or a New Year’s Eve bash, we love to do ‘fancy dress’ as much as the next nation. While it can be fun to look like an ‘ejit’. But there is also some etiquette to address. Fancy dress done right is an art form and lead to a night of fun, but doing it wrong can ultimately become offensive.

If you’re thinking of an Irish-themed fancy dress, consider these do’s and don’t below:

Don’t Buy Into the Silly Stereotype
Ireland is one of the world’s richest nations, boasting one of Europe’s largest tech centres, and a young, educated population. It’s also multi-cultural, and it’s a world away from everyone having red hair and fair skin. The whole drunk leprechaun idea of Ireland has been done to death, and you’ll end up looking like a walking cliché.

Do Look At Ireland’s Real Heritage
The shoes and accessories on sites like Irish Dancing Shoes all celebrate a more nuanced version of Ireland, while still tipping the hat towards cultural symbolism. There’s so much to explore in Celtic design that can provide a more sophisticated fancy dress. Consider, for example, the beautiful design of the Claddagh, and the inspiration behind it.

Don’t Be Too Controversial
Fancy dress can deliver on satire, but there is a fine line to walk. Unfortunately, social media is always full of reports of people who have gone too far in their fancy dress costume, sometimes poking fun at a real-life tragedy. The consequences can be real, too, as people have ended up losing their jobs for going too far.

Do Explore Ireland’s Varied History
Ireland’s rich history means your fancy dress idea can be almost anything. For example, you might not think that pirates play much of a role in Irish history, but there are plenty of instances of buccaneers coming from the Emerald Isle. Most famously, there was the Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley, but you’ll find many more examples. Of course, you can always find inspiration for your fancy dress in movies and in unexpected mediums like pirate-themed slot games, but the Irish had a unique take on the concept.


Don’t Forget to Dress for Comfort

As we said, fancy dress is an art form, and it’s always amazing to see some of the brilliant creations brought to life. But don’t forget that you might be wearing your gear for a long evening and night, so it’s always best to be practical. At the very least, you should have something that you can slip on and off at will without too much hassle.


Do Make Your Own Costume
From Dublin to Dungloe to Dingle, you’ll find fancy dress shops that sell all kinds of tat. But the best costumes are always homemade. Making your own will always catch the eye more than something bought in a store, so you can leave the leprechaun hats behind and do something a bit more creative.

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