Getting Party Ready with Lisa Sher Chambers

In the heart of Manhattan, where the city’s pulse quickens with the rhythm of dreams and ambitions, stands the iconic Plaza Hotel, a bastion of luxury and sophistication. Recently, this illustrious venue played host to an evening of elegance and benevolence as guests gathered for a ball in support of Save Venice, a cause close to many hearts. Yet, as invitations graced mailboxes and excitement bubbled, there was a collective sigh of anticipation and perhaps a hint of apprehension among attendees. Themed events demand more than just attendance; they require meticulous preparation, a touch of creativity, and, of course, the perfect ensemble to grace the ballroom floor. Enter Lisa Sher Chambers, a maestro of luxury fashion, whose expertise turns the daunting task of dressing for such occasions into a seamless and exhilarating experience. This year Lisa won a prize for the best on-theme mask along with my friend fashion designer Andrew Yu. Let’s delve into the enchanting world of gala glamour and the invaluable guidance of Lisa Sher Chambers as we unravel the tale of our night at the Plaza Hotel.

What key elements should a client consider when dressing for an event with a theme?

One perfect approach I tell my clients is that all events have a theme, from a business dinner, graduation party, cocktail party, and masquerade gala. 

Screenshot 2024 04 15 at 9.48.20 PM

The first consideration is the event’s objective. If the aim is to win business or close a deal, choose your most polished and professional attire. A little edge helps to set yourself apart. If the event is purely social, have some fun with your outfit and take fashion risks to the extent you are comfortable. 

Even weddings have a theme, and that’s romance. Consider your outfit choices if the wedding is in a unique location. Also, consider who is hosting the event, whether a wedding, a Bar/bat mitzvah, or another get-together. Think about how much you want to stand out. There are always cringe moments when a woman’s dress is too revealing or outlandish, so be mindful. 

If the event is a fashion show or a sponsored event, wear the designer or brand hosting it. If the event is sponsored by Oscar de la Renta and is more intimate, you will definitely want to wear Oscar de la Renta. If new is out of the question, opt for resale, vintage, or even rental from sources.

Another more obvious consideration is the dress code and the invitation itself.  If the invitation is extravagant, you won’t have to worry as much about going all out; you may want to consider upping your style game more than ever! If the invitation is understated, remember that when making outfit choices. Often, you can take cues from the color scheme of the invitation when choosing what to wear as well. 


Research the hosts to understand their demographics and the demographics of the attendees. 

Research less apparent details of the theme. If the event is out of state or country, use national/state colors and flowers to really set yourself apart and start conversations.

Make sure your alterations, hair, and makeup are planned well in advance. If possible and within the budget, find beauty stylists who will come to you. This is helpful in case of rain.

Screenshot 2024 04 13 at 2.12.33 PM

Can you walk us through the process of planning an outfit for a theme event?

As soon as we hear about the event, we begin planning. Remember, even for the most outlandish themes, YOU are attending and need to feel comfortable and confident. Enjoy the opportunity to really express yourself while embodying the theme, and have fun!

Start looking at upcoming looks from your favorite designers and brands. Even if those brands aren’t in your budget, similar options will likely be available for similar styles as the event approaches. Set alerts on your favorite online shopping platforms for your favorite brands and styles.

Where and when is the event? Attire for an event in the mountains would be more covered up, warm, and cozy than for an event on a beach, which may be more casual and tropical. 

    Is this a multiple-day event? If so, we plan the main event first and get that covered. I am even there when the clients pack their suitcases.

    If this is an annual event, research images from years before to see who attends and what they are wearing.

    Suppose the theme is a hat or mask event such as Carnivale or a Kentucky Derby party. Decide if you want a custom-made approach and research milliners to make the perfect look that will fit your face and head perfectly. Jackie Cicogna Millinery in Katonah recently created an award-winning mask for me for a black-tie event, and she is super creative. Another idea is to purchase a hat or mask from Etsy and add your own crystals, feathers, and other embellishments. Extra embellishments can be purchased even at Amazon, but M&J Trimming in NYC will have everything you need. 

    Book your hair and makeup a few weeks out to have optimal timeslots. Ensure you have your favorite eyelashes (and go for extra glam if you dare) and have a backup pair. I love Velour lashes. “Would I Lie” for the daytime and “Final Touch” for the evening. They are relatively easy to apply. Don’t reuse a pair for a special event. Please ensure the lashes are brand new, stick perfectly, and have no makeup on them. 

    Ensure dress fittings and alterations are scheduled appropriately to avoid last-minute stress. If possible, have the stylists come to you. If it rains, that will be super helpful.

    How can a client incorporate the theme into an outfit without looking too costume-like?

    That is an excellent question because, let’s face it, what appears as fashion to one person may look clownish to someone else! If the event is fashion-based, clients may wish to take more risks, but they always want to feel comfortable and confident, even if they are pushing their boundaries. Regarding the hosts, the type of event, and other attendees’ attire, you will want to push fewer boundaries for a more subdued group. I try to make sure my clients feel comfortable but do not blend into the wall!

    Screenshot 2024 04 19 at 12.50.24 PM

    Are there any specific colors or patterns that align well with a theme outfit that can help a client stand out in the crowd?

    If the client is comfortable, mixing colors and patterns is always fun. Mixing stripes and florals is a chic look that exudes confidence. If a client doesn’t feel comfortable mixing bold patterns, color-blocking is my favorite way to add some pizazz to an outfit subtly. Lastly, there is never a wrong time for sparkle. Try more subtle beading for daytime or gold and silver sequins for evening. I am also a big fan of accessorizing with the perfect chunky jewelry or wide belts over a dress. 

    Can you suggest accessories that complement a theme without overpowering the outfit?

      Gorgeous headbands or headpieces are a beautiful change from a showstopping necklace. Fine jewelry (necklaces, earrings, etc.) is sometimes ‘expected,’ but a headband or tiara makes a statement and is (potentially) less pricey. I am also a big fan of accessorizing with the perfect chunky jewelry or belts over a dress. Sometimes, you can take a simple dress and transform the whole look with accessories, which is always a fun project. And accessories can ideally be worn on many occasions following the event. 

      Do you have any tips for makeup that would enhance a theme without being too dramatic?

      Velour’s “Would I Lie” half-strip eyelashes offer a subtle flirty drama to the eye and are the most natural. Ensure you have a backup pair or two in case of glue mishaps during application. I love a spray tan, which requires a full day in advance. Consider temporary hair extensions for the ‘goddess’ look, and if possible, find a makeup artist you have used before or who comes highly recommended.

      Screenshot 2024 04 19 at 1.02.42 PM
      This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click a link and purchase something, I may get a small commission from it at no cost to you. I only feature things that I truly love and I hope you do too!!!
      Posted in Fashion. Bookmark the permalink.
      This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.