What to wear: How to choose an appropriate costume

Kinky Salon London (KSL) is a self-defined arty sexy party. We encourage our guests to openly engage in our artistic and erotic world. Our invitation policy does not discriminate against anyone on the basis of their gender (gender identity or expression), (dis-)ability, ethnicity or race, sexual orientation or sexuality, physical appearance, body size, class, age or religion. In order for our community to feel welcoming to all of its many members, it is important that a high level of consideration is not only practiced in the playroom but also before even entering the party venue.


To see the full infographic, click on the image above.

As our community grows and our parties are almost evenly split between new and returning guests, we believe it to be beneficial to offer this document as a resource, so that all members can be informed and/or reminded of our values concerning costumes. We have learned a great deal over the last five years, and we want to continue to uphold high standards in the hopes of organising KSL parties at which everyone who enters recognizes that diversity is not only welcomed but embodied.

At KSL we thoroughly enjoy dressing up, so much so that on the night of a party we integrate costume awards into the official programming. A costume mustn’t be expensive or even store-bought in order to be great. In fact, some of the best costumes we’ve encountered at our parties have been homemade.

Going forward we will take more care at the door ensuring that every party guest has come in costume keeping with our theme.

On top of simply dressing up, it is important to take into consideration the meaning of your costume or its individual elements. At KSL we would like to take this opportunity to clearly state that we reject racist costumes and will take the necessary steps to better ensure that such costumes do not make it into future events. There are multiple dimensions that can contribute to making a costume racist. To begin, race and ethnicity are not costumes; war bonnets and Native American-themed headdresses mock identities. None of these will be tolerated at a KSL event.

Another dimension of racist costumes is
cultural appropriation. At KSL we represent the opinion that cultural appropriation is offensive because the appropriation of racially marginalised cultures can lead to the further stereotyping, homogenising, objectifying, commodifying, exoticising, distorting and invalidating of those cultures. As Vijay Prashad explained in the documentary “yellow apparel”, all cultures are being commodified in the global economy, however the amount of power that a group holds in that global economy will greatly influence how they react to that commodification. Further, such appropriation often leads to the intersections of not only racism but classism and sexism as well.

The folks at Refinery29 created a flowchart, the beginning of which you can find above, to support the process of deciding if a costume might be offensive:

It is possible to choose so-called ‘racebent or genderbent’ costumes without being offensive. If, however, still in doubt, please contact us ahead of a party, and we will gladly advise you on the suitability of your costume. At KSL it is not our intention to police costumes, at the same time it is important to us that our party guests do not experience exclusion due to inappropriate and hurtful costumes.