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How to Dress for Theme Parties-Summer 2010 Edition

So another year has gone by, and with it has passed a whole season of themed parties. We’ve seen endless incarnations of togas, sexy secretaries and G.I. Hoes, and way, way more vampires than we should have. After a full year of the same themes over and over, you might be feeling just a little themed-out. And now that it’s summer, all you have to choose from are pool parties, beach parties, and patio parties, and your only costumes will be bikinis and sundresses…right? Of course not!  In the summer, there’s a whole new set of themes available for those looking to bring themed parties into a new season. And for the more creative among us, there are dozens of ways to punch up an outdoor party, with fun theme-related settings, activities and refreshments. HC has compiled some of this summer’s hottest themes—take our advice and your bash will be the talk of the town!

Glee Party

This season may have ended, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about your favorite show-choir nerds! Bring back the magic of Mr. Shuester and his club of geeky-but-talented misfits with a Glee-themed party. Have everyone dress up as their favorite character, and come prepared to sing their favorite song from the show.


Love Sue Sylvester? Come in a tracksuit. More of a fan of Mr. Schuester? Pile on the hair gel. Does Rachel’s voice make you melt? Go buy a corduroy jumper and a pair of argyle socks. And if you love Quinn, find a way to simulate that baby bump. Whichever character you choose, be sure to find their signature look and get creative!


In true Mckinley High fashion, serve your guests Slushies. They’re super-easy to make—just mix fruit juice and ice in a blender! If you’re serving alcohol at your party, you could even add some vodka or rum to the slush—see some recipe ideas here. Just don’t throw it in anyone’s faces without asking—especially if they’re wearing white!


Do I even need to say it? KARAOKE! Ask around and see if any of your friends have a karaoke machine, and if not you can buy one at Target.


Summer Olympics Party

Who says the Olympics are just for pro athletes? You can have an Olympic party in your own backyard—involving your guests in a little fun competition is a great way to take a boring summer get-together to the next level. And of course, your games don’t have to be physically taxing—in fact, you can get creative and tailor your Olympics to your college experience!


For this theme, it’s a good idea to split up your guests into teams. You could name the teams after countries, colors, animals, Kardashian family members…there’s endless room for creativity here. You could even split up your teams by where your guests go to school—either by school, or by region of the country. Give each team a few minutes to get their costumes together, and have them wear something cohesive so everyone can tell who is on whose team. You might even want to think about pre-ordering t-shirts for each team, or buying shirts or accessories, like arm bands or hats, in different colors. And don’t forget body paint, so teams can show their team spirit on their skin!


For food, you might want to provide athlete-friendly snacks, like granola bars, as a nod to your theme. If you’re more into traditional party snacks, try decorating cupcakes or cakes with the Olympic rings, or with pictures or symbols relevant to each team. And for drinks, Gatorade of course—also spike-able if you’re serving alcohol.


Basically, your best bet is to create a bunch of competitions, and have the teams do each in a different order—the first team to finish all the contests wins! If you’re looking to do a traditional Olympic party, you could think of more creative versions of some traditional Olympics events, like a swimming relay race on pool noodles (if you have a pool), or a basketball-shooting contest. If you’re serving alcohol, you could think of implementing some drinking games—just make sure everyone stays safe and drinks responsibly, and don’t ever serve hard liquor or shots as part of a drinking game. You could also add in a bunch of trivia contests—think Grey’s Anatomy trivia, or Mean Girls trivia, or, if everyone at your party goes to the same college or went to the same high school, school trivia. Add in some hula-hoop competitions, a mummy toilet-paper wrap race, and a whipped-cream pie-eating contest, and you’ve got yourself a party to remember!

New Jersey Party

You may have seen your fair share of Snooki poufs over the past year, but like it or not, Jersey Shore is returning for a second season this summer, and with it will return the guido-mania that gripped our nation last January. And as women of the times, we must allow our guests an outlet through which they can express their secret love for GTL and hot-tub parties. But your Jersey Shore party doesn’t need to be just like all the others—it’s easy to think outside the box and go beyond a few Bumpits and some Ed Hardy t-shirts and come up with a real Jersey rager.


Now that it’s summer, it’s easier than ever to bring the Jersey Shore to your party. Slather on the self-tanner, pile your hair as high as you can, and show some skin—after all, this is your only opportunity to look totally trashy without being judged! If you live in a beach town, or if you’re lucky enough to live near the Jersey Shore itself, see if you can pick up an obnoxiously slogan-ed t-shirt like the ones the cast so famously sells on the snow, or go online and pick up some “I love the Situation” clothes here. If you’re sick of Jersey Shore and want to dress a little outside the box, consider channeling a Real Housewife of New Jersey instead, with a tight dress, lots of jewelry, and pouffy curls—and an attitude to match!

A note of caution: Animal print does NOT mean Jersey. I have seen way too many girls show up to Jersey Shore parties in a perfectly normal, not-skintight leopard-print shirt, thinking the print alone makes them look Jersey, and they just look out of place. At a summer Jersey party, especially, it’s important to show a little skin, or at least avoid anything drapey, blousey or button-up—Snooki and J-Woww would never be caught dead leaving the house looking put-together!


Italian food! Serve your guests pizza and pasta, or bruschetta if you’re going for a classier vibe, just like Vinnie’s mother would make. And whatever you serve to drink, be sure to pour them into giant red plastic cups, so your guests can bop like they’re in the hallowed halls of Karma.


If you have a hot tub, you’re all set—it’s not like the cast does anything else but “party” in the Jacuzzi, anyway. If not, buy a kiddie pool as a joke, and leave plenty of room for Snooki wannabes to practice their backflips!

Of course, there’s plenty of room for innovation when it comes to these themes, and any summer theme. You could spice up a luau-themed party with creative frozen drinks, for example, or kick a traditional pool party up a notch with a Marco Polo tournament. Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to get creative, and your summer party will be sure to be remembered into the fall!

Amanda First is a senior English major at Cornell University.  She is Life Editor of Her Campus, as well as founding editor of Her Campus Cornell. She has interned for Cornell Alumni Magazine, Harper's Bazaar, and Parents through ASME's internship program.  Some of her favorite things include high heels, browsing ShopBop, yoga, The O.C. reruns (but only before Marissa dies), and Tasti D-Lite. After college, she hopes to pursue a career in magazine journalism.
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