With the looming prospect of Freshers’ Week in all its overhyped glory comes the even darker thought of its fancy dress themes, the darkest of which is arguably the unashamedly crude Traffic Light Party. Not only is the idea of ‘stop’, ‘go’ and ‘maybe if you buy me thirty shots of Sourz’ (the verdancy of which doubtless increases libido much more effectively than its alcohol content) in relation to sexual pursuit so void of subtlety that it is overwhelmingly unromantic, but such an event is almost guaranteed to induce an outfit crisis so intense it would be a wonder if the victim ever made it out of the door.
The connotations of the colour red are startlingly inconvenient for its purpose in this context. Men are lucky in this sense, as the donning of red trousers will effectively repel a good proportion of the female TLP-goers. (There is an ancient proverb along such lines as ‘if an Oxford student doesn’t make a red trouser joke at least every month, does banter still exist?’) For women, though, a red dress isn’t hugely promising for warding off suitors; a better attempt might be to shroud oneself in top-to-toe red and go for Father Christmas instead of Miss Scarlet. A TLP’s one redeeming feature, however, might be that it does not intrinsically require attendees to look ridiculous and/or like prostitutes. This glimmer of hope seems to be quelled, at least for females, by adopting the ‘stop’ position in a way that will make it functional. Red, then, appears to be out.
The most difficult colour to pull off is, unfortunately, the most viable option for most single people – amber. The promiscuity of green and glaring futility of attending a TLP with no intention of ‘going’ in a red outfit write off your other two options. Unless you pass off a rusty brown or pastel yellow as ‘amber’, it will not only be you who needs a bit of persuading, but also any potential conquest, due to the inevitable clash of orange with virtually anything else, skin and hair included.
The colour with the fewest implications, aesthetic or social, is green, but for the purposes of this event it is the least likely for most people with any sense of pride. It is difficult enough going to a club on a normal night without being faced with minor sexual assault every ten minutes, but to be indisputably single and willing must induce nothing short of misogynistic hell, no matter how genuine the willingness. It’s a shame, as a deep green velvet is a beautifully flattering and complementary colour for most complexions, and a flash of brighter green with a darker, more neutral respective half adds a radiance far more understated than pink or blue.
Freshers, you are faced with a decision: you must relinquish either your social or sartorial values. That, or avoid Traffic Light Parties like the plague. I know what I’d do … after all, you can wear whatever colour you like to the pub.