Dressing Up Ideas for Parties

Updated March 23, 2017

Dressing up can make all the difference between a good party and an unforgettable one. A really successful dress-up party incorporates a theme that both super-creative guests can go wild with and more reserved guests can comfortably participate in. Dressing up for a party should be amusing, silly and, most importantly, fun for everyone.


Nearly every decade of the 1900s had identifying characteristics. However, don't just throw a traditional '80s-themed party. Instead, host a Roaring Twenties party, a 1950s sock hop or an America of the 1940s party. Dress up as a flapper, a soda shop girl in a poodle skirt or a World War II soldier. You could also invite party guests to choose a decade or event and come dressed as if they are part of it. Events that occurred during the century, such as the Depression, the Civil Rights Movement or Motown, can also be translated into costumes.

Famous People

Famous people are often easy to caricature, but you can give this theme a twist by adding a caveat: guests must dress up as a famous dead person. Centuries-old politicians such as George Washington or deceased celebrities like Michael Jackson are good choices, as are controversial figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. You could also ask guests to dress up as a "dead" idea personified; for example, one witty guest could arrive as a 1950s housewife.

Imaginary People

Throw a superhero party and ask all of your guests to dress up as their favourite superheroes. Alternatively, encourage groups of guests to wear costumes based on characters from a popular book or movie. A group of three could dress up as the "Twilight" or "Harry Potter" main characters, while a larger group could dress up as the cast from the movie "Shaun of the Dead." As an added twist, don't reveal who anyone is and tell them to stay in character until everyone has figured out the "secret identities" of all the guests present.

Other Ideas

Choose a colour or two and use those colours for decoration, food and costumes; ask everyone to dress in the chosen colour. Pick a particular occupation or type of person for your theme; some ideas include spies, dentists, serial killers or goths. Conversely, choose a location to base costume ideas on, such as a speakeasy from the 1920s, heaven or hell, or the Playboy mansion. You could also caricature a particular part of the world; for example, you could wear a red- and white-striped shirt, black trousers and a fake moustache to be Italian or a kimono and white make-up to be Japanese.

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About the Author

Kate Bradley began writing professionally in 2007. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a minor in German from Berry College in Rome, Ga; TEFL/TESOL certification from ITC International in Prague; and a Master of Arts in integrated global communication from Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.