Despite the countless horror stories floating around about the pledging process (hazing-induced alcohol poisoning, forced public humiliation in the name of sisterhood), my sorority sisters and I found this twilight-zone period between Bid Night and Initiation to be by far the most fun of the year. I discovered, to my surprise, that my pledging process primarily consisted, not of grueling and embarrassing physical and mental tasks, but of themed mixers and parties. Yes, you heard me correctly—ALL YOU DO IS DRESS UP IN COSTUMES AND PARTY. Like, four times a week, every week, for the whole pledging period (at Cornell, at least). So, in preparation for your own pledging process, or just for your own parties and entertainment, I hereby bestow upon you Amanda’s Top Five Mixer Themes (and how to dress for them):
5. Jock Jams: This popular party involves all attendees dressing up in sports gear, playing drinking games, and listening to the 90’s smash hit “Jock Jams” ALL NIGHT LONG (“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to RUMBLE…”). Feel free to go all-out, but don’t show up in soccer sweatpants and a warm-up jacket—you still want to look cute! A good costume for this theme might be a guy’s football jersey, bike shorts, soccer socks, and sneakers. See if you can find some of that black stuff to paint under your eyes for an extra touch!
4. Highlighter/Paint Party: These two themes are fun, but MESSY. At a highlighter party, everyone wears a white shirt they can ruin, and runs around under a black light with highlighters, drawing on each other so everyone glows in the dark. Don’t forget to wear white or the theme won’t work! A paint party is exactly what it sounds like—a tarp is laid on the floor, and the partygoers engage in a free-for-all paint fight, in which everyone gets a bottle of paint and squeezes it on each other! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don’t wear anything you like to this mixer—it will get ruined. And don’t wear shoes unless they’re hideous and you want to throw them out afterwards!
3. High School Stereotypes: This awesome party looks like everyone’s walked straight out of the cafeteria of Mean Girls—“you’ve got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, JV jocks, Asian nerds…” Feel free to indulge your high-school fantasies and be someone else for a day. Usually a jock? Dress as a goth! Usually preppy? Surprise everyone and go punk! But be sure to be creative—a hundred cheerleaders and football players in one room is no fun, but throw in some band geeks and mathletes and you’ve got a real party!
2. Toga: A classic frat party straight out of Animal House, you can NEVER go wrong with a toga party (in my opinion, at least). But while for guys there isn’t a lot of room for interpretation, for us a toga party is an invitation to embrace our inner fashionistas! We don’t need to use white sheets—in fact, I don’t even suggest it, as they usually drown us, drag all over the floor, and come undone by the end of the night. Go buy some fabric instead, in an interesting material or color, and drape it off one shoulder for a Greek Goddess look. My friends and I used pillowcases and tied them with braided ropes over one shoulder and around our waists—they looked awesome!
1. Anything But Clothes (ABC): My personal favorite theme, this party leaves plenty of room for creativity—and craziness! Despite its misleading name, “Anything But Clothes” does not mean show up naked. Instead, attendees make a costume out of any material that is not technically considered clothing. Try to think out of the box, but not TOO far out—you don’t want to show up in a garbage bag, or in a gum-wrapper jumpsuit—NOTHING is worth that much effort just to get spilled on and ruined. A word to the wise: wrapping-paper dresses always, always, always rip when you sit down—take it from me! Caution tape is a better alternative—more durable and way hotter!
Before you get out there in your fiercest outfit and start mixing, one word of caution—always check to make sure the theme hasn’t been changed or cancelled at the last minute! Believe me, nothing is more embarrassing than showing up at a party you thought was Playboy-themed—in fishnets, thigh-high leather boots, a leotard with a huge shiny belt, and construction-paper bunny ears—when everyone around you is wearing plain black dresses. Always coordinate with your friends before you go out, especially if you’re going to go all-out for the theme—unless you want an Elle Woods moment of your own!
In case you’re still a bit anxious after this tutorial, read on for some tricky theme party “what if’s” and how to handle them!
Theme Party “What If’s”:
What if… you hate the theme? Themes are just a suggestion, not a requirement. If you really hate the theme, and feel uncomfortable dressing for it, then by no means feel like you have to. If you can think of a modification on the theme that you like, then go for that—for example, if all your friends are “army ho’s” and you HATE camo (for which I certainly don’t blame you), then you could be a navy brat instead and dress as a sailor.
What if… you’re going somewhere else before or after? If you think you can rock the theme at the next party, go for it! It makes for a great conversation starter. But if your costume is really out there and you’d rather not look like you’re completely insane, bring a change of clothes (a little black dress always works and can be stuffed in a bag), or wear jeans or leggings with your costume and just change your shirt when you leave.
What if… you can’t figure out a cute outfit for the theme? If you can’t figure out a cute outfit, wear a basic outfit and dress it up with cute theme-related accessories. The best costume for a Playboy party, as I’ve learned, is a black dress and a bunny-ears headband, white gloves, and a bow tie. A simple outfit always works, and can actually highlight your accessories and look way cooler than going too crazy with your clothes.
What if… you’re worried others won’t dress for the theme? ALWAYS ask your friends what they’re doing before you pick out your outfit. That way, if no one else wants to dress for the theme, you won’t feel out of place. If you can all coordinate to wear similar outfits, it adds a really cute and cohesive touch—and you can help each other pick out the best costumes (not to mention take tons of cute pics)!
What if… you show up and no one else did the theme? The best thing to do is to play it like Elle Woods—shake off your surprise and embarrassment and laugh at yourself. If you act like you knew full well no one else would do the theme and you dressed up anyway, just for fun, you exude an air of confidence and individuality, and everyone at the party will be automatically drawn to you.
What if… you’re worried your outfit is too provocative/revealing? You’re probably not ever going to be wearing the most revealing outfit at any party—there’s always that one girl who translates every single theme to mean “lingerie with appropriate accessories”. And if you wear your outfit with confidence, no one can judge you. But if you feel uncomfortable in your costume, wear a tank under it, or a sweater over it. You can also bring a less revealing option to change into if you arrive at the party and everyone else is buttoned-up.