The Best Dress Up Party Themes for Adults – And The Ones To Avoid

adult man in a dress up with wig and sunglasses

Great dress up party themes for adults are easy to come up with but not always so easy to execute. Anyone can come up with a perfect plan for a Grease-themed party, for example. But do you have space, the time, the resources, and, most importantly, the people to pull it off?

Grandiose party ideas are bound to end in disaster. So are those themes you might think are fun but others may not. Don't plan a hunting theme if your friends are vegetarians. A Call of Duty Theme may not go over well with your mostly female workplace. There is a lot to consider, and the first step in planning is brainstorming.

Planning Your Adult Theme Party

Stay away from extreme niche interests like...My Little Pony. While there are plenty of available props and even an unfortunate underculture on Reddit, you're unlikely to find other people who share such a specialized interest. The same goes for gender and age-specific themes unless that's what you happen to be going for.

The best dress up party themes for adults, or for anyone, will appeal to the widest range of people.

Your Party Space

best adult party themes: a party venue waiting for guests

How much room you have available makes a huge difference when you're considering the best dress up party themes for adults. You're planning an outdoor party by the pool for 20 people. It starts raining. Do you have room inside for those 20 people, plus food? Will it ruin the ambiance and overall theme of the party?

Make sure before you plan anything that you have both the room and a contingency plan. You'll thank yourself later.

Get A Good Mix Of People

It's your party but they'll cry if they want to. The last thing you need is a bunch of whiny pals dragging your party down because they don't like your theme. Consider the people who will be there, of their own free will, participating gleefully when the fun begins. Negativity may breed negativity, but fun also breeds fun. Everyone talks about that one person who can bring everyone else down. Focus on the three or four people who can bring people back up.

Design your party with the fun folks in mind. Call them beforehand or organize an informal meeting. Your friends will be a great asset to your event when you include them from the beginning.

The Three Worst Dress Up Party Themes for Adults

Here you have three of the most famous dress up party themes of all time. They are as recognizable as they are cliched. Avoid them at all cost.

Animal House

best adult party themes: men at a toga party

The problem with throwing an Animal House-themed party is the house. The original house in the film was horrible. It was filthy and covered in neon signs that -- at the time - would have blown residential fuses to bits. When you announce an Animal House party, half the people will show up in togas and the other half will show up in the worst John Belushi costumes of all time. Worst of all, people will expect bad behavior to be the order of the evening.

That's not to say that the Animal House parties weren't epic filmmaking masterpieces; they were. It's just that there's a limit on how many drunk girls in shopping carts you can fit in the average living room. Do yourself a favor and stay away. There's a toga option below. Use it.

Risky Business

best adult party themes: men in risky business costumes

The quintessential 1980s party. Everyone shows up dressed in a button-down shirt and boxers. It's...grand fun. And horribly misogynistic. It is also possibly the worst idea - and the second worst movie - of all time. If you've considered asking your male friends to show up at a party for the purpose of ogling your scantily-clad female friends, you've embraced rape culture and need to rethink your life choices.

There's only one song that works for this party, and Tom Cruise is too busy doing his own for stunts for Scientology to show up. So you're gonna want to abandon this one right here and now.


best adult party themes: person in a scream mask

Invite your friends over to get drunk and watch scary movies and have one person be "it." It's their job to remove people from the party as quietly as possible. What could possibly go wrong? Adding a twist to an already bad idea is a worse idea, that's what. The "it" person trying to catch people by surprise when they go to the bathroom - the only time a partygoer is alone. This will get old in minutes.

You'll be left with the classic horror movie party cliche. There's always the possibility that some unwitting couple will be born of a fleeting, frightening moment in the movie where their nervous hands touch and their eyes meet. Or...was that the Cinderella party?

The Six Best Dress Up Party Themes For Adults

These themes were chosen because they're fun, easy to find supplies for, and diverse. Your friends and coworkers will be able to express themselves with each experience. Whether they want to be funny, serious, political, sexy or just plain cute, these themes allow them to find and harness their creative sides.

Make sure to give your guests plenty of time to respond to your invitation. Remember that planning the best adult dress up party themes takes time and effort on their part as well. You can alleviate some of that pressure by offering a list of suggested costumes on the back of your invitation. You're also helping control the overall look and feel of the party as well.


best adult party themes: the mars probe

Space. The final frontier. And so on. When the theme is space, the costume possibilities are endless and the decorations are easy. The beauty of calling it "Space" and not choosing a particular genre is that not only will you save yourself time building model nacelles and cardboard bat'leths. As for party supplies, the campier the better.

Your guests will arrive to the awesome sights of cheesy paper planets, some creative lighting, space-themed snacks -- and a room full of the best costumes from this galaxy and at least one other far, far away.

Great costumes for this party are going to be easy to come by. The obvious sci-fi apparel is, of course, more than welcome. Anything Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica -- and the list goes on -- is fair game.

Build your own costume ideas include rocket ships, planets and meteors, a sun, a moon, and, of course, the all-new Spaceforce. People will have no problem finding something that works with this ever-expanding party theme.

Westworld And The Wild West

best adult party themes: a wild west street scene

Westworld is in. Cowboys and Indians; black hats and white, all began to fade away until robots happened. Because -- robots. Your typical bank robber will now come complete with a battery pack he stole from a live bait aerator. The barmaid with the puffy dress will convince some poor shlep she's interested, only to pretend they've never met ten minutes later.

Whether you love the show or hate it, it will make for a great twist to an already fun party. Decorating for the wild west is pretty easy as well. A nice DIY touch to any wild west party is to buy old-looking cork-topped bottles and use them for the bar. Little touches like that turn ordinary parties into memorable occasions.

Aside from the Westworld-themed costumes, your friends can also have some fun with horses, arrows through their head and other tomfoolery connected to the era. The Wild West theme certainly deserves its spot on the list of the best dress up party themes for adults.


best adult party themes: guests at a superhero party

You can't go wrong with superheroes. Aside from the wide array of available costumes, this theme gives people real choices. Not only are there multiple incarnations of every comic book hero ever created, Chuck from accounting can also come as "The Super Stapler." Marge from your cousin's bowling league decided to be the Nacho Ninja and your boss, who you thought had no sense of humor at all, came dressed as an on-time version of you.

Superhero parties inspire people to create. The host is no exception. Leaning in this direction means you either love the genre or you know of a Harley Quinn outfit you will just rock. Decorating is a breeze as well. Hit your local party city, pick a few heroes and dedicate a room to each. The Batcave bathroom is through Gotham Kitchen and down the Hallway of Justice -- second door on the left.

Princes And Princesses

best adult party themes: people dressed as disney princes and princesses

There is not as dopier, campier theme on the planet than Princes and Princesses. The idea of royals, (sorry, Brits!) is so outdated and the idea of the prince and princess so ridiculously stereotyped that it can't help but be fun. As time takes little boys and girls away from fantasy lands of castles, magic, and dragons, it turns them into adults who love nearly x-rated shows about fantasy lands of castles, magic, and dragons. And Daenerys Targaryen.

Decorating for Princes and Princesses is easy as well. One fancy dessert table satisfies the requirement. Lacey bows with flowers tied around things at random and signs that start with "Ye" are a must. Picking a friend to play King or Queen for the duration will add depth to the party and create cell phone video moments that will circulate on social media for as long as there's an internet.


best adult party themes: competition at a Masterchef party

The MasterChef party is brilliant. You have to either assume the role of Gordon Ramsay or have a friend volunteer. You can, of course, have up to three judges. All you need to decorate are some printouts of the show's logo and some creative appetizers. The guests take care of the rest.

The Masterchef party is one of the best dress up party themes for adults because the main course is brought by your guests. Your invitation announces that you're hosting a dress up party and potluck. Their dish, dessert or store-bought contribution will be judged for originality, flavor, and plating.

When done right, the results will be hilarious. Nobody will ever forget your Masterchef party. Your guests can come dressed as their favorite contestant or just some wacky home cook from Piedmont, North Dakota with a beaver tail and something to prove.

80s Hair Band

best adult party themes: people in 1980s hair band costumes

In 1989, if you knew three guitar chords, you could play three songs by Guns N' Roses, every Dylan cover that hit the top ten and Poison's entire discography. It was truly the time of pop sold as rock, massive hairdos, and stadium shows featuring blinding laser lights and spinning drum sets.

Your 80s Hair Band party gives your guest the opportunity to put on a wig and some leather and air guitar the night away. The soundtrack will be epic, the food will be pizza and fondu and the memories will last a lifetime.

Decorating for the 80s couldn't be easier. Retro 80s posters, lunchboxes and other memorabilia are readily available. 80s clothing is even making quite the comeback. And the hair? The women will love you for giving them the chance to tease like it's 1985 and the men will walk around all night believing they've grown 2 inches. In height.

Comparison Table





Animal House


Risky Business

Westworld And The Wild West



Princes And Princesses


80s Hair Band

Never Forget Your Party

The biggest mistake you can make is not taking enough pictures and videos of your guests having fun. Throwing a successful party is something to be proud of. Set up your devices around the party to record whenever possible. Take the time to do live recording sessions with your friends. Have them, talk about the party while it's still going on.

You're assuring that your friends, neighbors, and coworkers will all know that an invitation to one of your parties is something special that doesn't come lightly. After all -- you throw bashes based on the best dress up party themes for adults.


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