I can only imagine how stressful it must be to pack for Trinidad Carnival, especially for the women, when you are limited by the weight of your suitcase and a multitude of events to attend. There are so many fetes to go to, plus you need to walk with Carnival accessories, gifts for friends and family that you probably wonder how you can pack everything and what items you can getaway with leaving behind.
Well, here is a simple guide to what type and items of clothing you will need for certain events, and then you can pack accordingly:
Plan on dressing up more than you would to go to any other parties in Trinidad as these fetes are usually a “fashion show” with some people dressed to thrill. With premium drinks and a variety of dishes included in the ticket price, all-inclusive are where you go to mingle with the local celebrities, politicians and the who’s who of Trinidad social circles.
Daytime all-inclusive fetes like Beach House and Salybia require stylish yet simple attire and a cute pair of shades. Bermuda shorts, skirts, tunic tops or even a “summer dress” are all quite acceptable wear. Footwear should be comfortable; wedges, flats or nice sandals are perfect, please leave the sneakers at home!
All-inclusive fetes held at night usually bring out the sexy and the stilettos. Expect to see women in daring sexy tops showing off cleavage or back, short skirts emphasizing the legs in high heels, hipster fitted pants showing off the curves and stomach in addition to being adorned with lots of trendy accessories. Rule of thumb is the more expensive the fete, the more dressed up the women are. Furthermore, you see all the latest trends, so if you are not wearing something new you will not be in style. If you need to shop for one new outfit before heading to Trinidad, plan on something you can wear to an all-inclusive fete like Brian Lara’s or Moka.
These are large affairs with thousands of people, several live brass bands usually held in some large open space such as a car park for Customs or sports ground like the Brass Festival. Two things are most important when dressing for these fetes, comfort and comfort. This is the time to wear your shorts, jeans and sneakers, with that many people you want to safe guard your toes as well as be able to jump and wave all night to the soca bands.
The only accessories you need are a flag, rag or bandana to wave on instruction and someplace safe to stash your money. Unlike the exclusive all-inclusive, these fetes tend to attract a cross section of society, with many exuberant young boys who might get into fights or try to pick your pocket.
Any party where you are instructed to wear white, black or a crazy hat is considered a “theme party”. Knowing which one you plan on going to in advance helps with the wardrobe. Eyes Wide shut is where you wear all black and a mask. Glo you don all white and Mad Hatters requires you wear some type of headgear. Now, you don’t have to follow the “rules” and can wear anything you desire but the majority of people do follow the dress code, even in part, so unless you want to stand out prepare your outfit accordingly in advance.
Starting at mid-night and going until the sun comes up, these parties like Insomnia and Dawn test your endurance and fashion sense. What might look good in the night does not look as cute when daylight hits! Here is a tip, walk with sun glasses for when the sun rises; some faces show the stress of the night before more than others, the sun glasses hides the “morning face”. Make sure and “day approve” your outfit, anything worn or faded might look great at night but show all the sins in the light of day.
Another bit of advice for ladies is to take along some blotting sheets, lipstick, eye liner, wet wipes and body spray in your handbag. As the sun rises you can discreetly go to the wash room and “freshen” up. Lots of these breakfast parties also supply you with toothpaste packs, use them!
Zen and 51 degrees have a dress code; if you are going to either one know that men are not allowed in with sneakers and they tend to dress on the metro side, expect to see guys in man blouses and women dressing like Paris Hilton. From my experience people tend to dress very trendy to go to these clubs, lots of “what’s wearing now”. To get an idea of how people dress, just browse the galleries at triniscene.com
Out Door Fetes:
Any party held at Anchorage, Mobs 2, Pier 1, and other open air venues such as Bacchanal Wednesday, Girl Power or Trini Posse are defined as such. These parties are somewhat like the Soca Jam in that they attract a lot of people, might have more than one live band, but they do not attract the same element. Soca Jams tend to attract a more “rough crowd”, for want of a better word, whereas these out door clubs attract a wider cross section; middle to upper middle class, foreigners a sprinkling of local celebrities as well as the popular party crowd. The dress code is usually stylish jeans, pants or shorts coupled with a sexy top and comfortable yet stylish shoes (sandals, wedges, trendy sneakers). You do want to be comfortable to wine and jam, jump up and get on bad, but you don’t want to look like a hot, sweaty mess doing so either.
If you are lucky enough to be in Trinidad for Panorama Semis know that most people in the North Stand will be decked out in a “crew” T-Shirt/Vest/Baby Tee. Club Coconuts, Island People, Red Ants,Insmoniacs, Jamboree among many other promoters offer Panorama Packages for around $150.00TT which include one of the aforementioned garments to wear, food and drinks ALL day and a fun lime with rhythim section and alot of other drunk people (cost of your panorama ticket is not included however). This year one of my friends got other accesories in her panorama package including a cup, whistle and “female urinal” (I kid you not!).
It is not necessary to join a crew to enjoy panorama, we usually do our own lime walking with our drinks, food etc. BUT we do wear a uniformed T-Shirt. I come up with the design each year, and iron on the pattern on the T-Shirts/Vests/Baby Tees which is cheap yet effective. The other standard panorama wear is shorts, t-shirt/vest, sun glasses and sneakers! You do not want to be in heels navigating the North Stand stairs!
After Carnival Cool Down:
Whether you are heading to Tobago, Maracas or Manazanilla most likely you will end up on a beach so swimwear is the clothing of choice. I advise on wearing a cover-up when you are not taking a swim since candid camera men are notorious for stalking women in bikinis and next thing you know you are unwittingly starring in some post carnival video.Shorts, Capris, sheer draw string pants or even a wrap is an ideal accessory on the beach.
I plan on listing all the fetes for the Carnival season when the schedule becomes available, but for now here are some of the more popular ones:
Soca in Moka
UWI All inclusive
Fete to the Max, CAREC Grounds, St Clair
Michael Headley all-inclusive, Salybia
The Beach House Carnival all-inclusive fete
The Atlantis Fete
Poolside all-inclusive, Hilton Trinidad
In de Sanctuary all-inclusive, Valsayn
Moka all-inclusive, Maraval
Brian Lara all-inclusive,
Caribbean Brass Festival
Customs Boys’ annual Pan-o-Brass-Pan
Soca Monarch Final
Cooler Fete, Pier 1, Chaguaramas
Caribbean Wet Fete
Flour Mills Fete
Out Door Clubs:
Skin to Skin
UWI Splash Aqua Trinidad
Island People’s Girl Power
Mania Country Club
Wicked in White
Island Style’s Glo
Island Style’s Mad Hatters
Eyes Wide Shut Carnivale
Country Club Carnival Friday Costume Party.
Sunny Side Up
Diamond Vale Breakfast Party