West side story dress up ideas

Written by sarah schreiber
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West side story dress up ideas
Wear orange if you're dressing up as a Jet. (Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

"West Side Story," with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Soundheim, opened at the Winter Garden Theater on September 26, 1957. The musical enjoyed tremendous success during its initial Broadway run. A film version came out in 1961. Perhaps you are looking for creative dress up ideas for a costume party. Take a trip back to the 1950s, when the musical was set, and go as your favourite "West Side Story" character.

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The Jets

The Jets are a street gang of young males who are New York City natives. Style your hair short to go as a Jet. Wear tight, ankle-length blue jeans. Opt for white canvas shoes to resemble the dancing shoes worn by actors in the movie and on Broadway. Tuck in your T-shirt, which could be any colour other than purple; orange was the official gang colour in the most recent Broadway revival, so incorporating that colour into your costume could add authenticity.

The Sharks

The Sharks -- rivals to the Jets -- comprise recent young immigrants from Puerto Rico. Dress as Bernardo, the leader, if going solo or get a group of at least four people together and have three dress as gang members and one as Bernardo. Sharks wear black jeans, black canvas sneakers and T-shirts. Purple is the gang's colour, so incorporate either a purple shirt or purple bandanna wrapped around your head. If you want to channel Bernardo from the film version, wear black jeans, a black T-shirt and a tucked-in but unbuttoned red collared shirt.

Tony and Maria

If you're going to a costume party as a couple, dress up as "West Side Story"'s famous star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria. Tony is a former member of the Jets who quit in an attempt to make an honest life. He falls hard for Maria, the sister of the Sharks' leader, after meeting at a dance. Going as Tony, a person should slick back his hair in typical 1950s style. Both the stage and screen versions of the play depict Tony in tighter blue jeans, white canvas shoes and a T-shirt and khaki jacket. Maria is typically wearing a white and flowing knee- to calf-length dress, which often has a red sash.

Jet or Shark Girls

The girlfriends of the Jets and the Sharks offer options for female character dress up. The Shark girls wore colourful dresses with flowing skirts in strong colours like deep purple and aqua. If going as a Jet girl, wear tighter skirts of about knee length and matching tops. High-heel shoes will work for either set of girls. An alternative female character to use for inspiration is Anybodys, a tomboy desperate to join the Jets gang. She typically dresses as the male members of the Jets.

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