Any chance you could include fun activities around the dress code?
For example, when it was my father's retirement party, the dress code was blue and white colour. Invitations were oral, not written. So, we had the chance to explain the rationale behind the dress code to each invitee in detail. We would tell them that the decoration colours were also of white and blue hue and we had planned a group photo with everyone including. So, everyone wearing the same shade would make for a better pic. We had also planned games involving the colour of the dress. e.g. white trouser men to dance with blue top women. (we hadn't disclosed every detail to them, of course).
Most guests complied with it. Those who didn't felt left out a bit. We had anticipated this. So, we had planned something around neutral things too, e.g. hanky colour or shoe colour.
The following year, it was my mother's retirement. We decided not to have a dress code as it was too much work for us the last time. But while inviting guests, many insisted us to include a dress code as it was not only fun but also helped them to decide what to wear by narrowing down their options.
So, my point is if you are having fun activities around dress code then you need not worry about it being controlling or formal. You could send across one of the followings with your invitations:
- If you are wearing light colours, you could be in for a lot of fun.
- Light colours would brighten the evening.
- Lots of fun activities involving light colours of the clothing.
If you have more space in the invitation card, you could elaborate on the dress code if you want.
If some guests don't take the hint then we would have to accept the fact that there's bound to be some wear and tear of our furniture if we are using it.