Fancy Dress Ideas

Regardless of who you are at university, you are likely going to have to go to a fancy dress party or themed night while out clubbing. Or you may even want to have your own fancy dress party. The first section of this guide deals with themes you could use for your own parties and a few ideas to go with them, the second section gives some ideas of what to dress up as if you are going to a fancy dress party and are running low on ideas!

In my opinion it is always far more fun to make your own fancy dress costumes than buy one in a shop. There is always that lazy option available though.

Items to Take to University for Fancy Dress

  • School Tie
  • School Shirt (not your ball shirt!)
  • School Trousers or Shirt
  • Permanent Marker
  • A Selection of Face Paints
  • Gangster Hat/Cowboy Hat
  • Beach Shorts
  • Hawaiian or Beach themed T-shirt.
  • Clothes you don’t mind having destroyed, ripped a bit or written on.

For more university essential items checkout our articles for catered and self-catered/private rented students.

Theme Ideas

School Disco: I guarantee there will be a school disco party at your university union, hall or residence or at a nightclub during Fresher’ week! Make sure to take a school tie and school shirt and trousers/skirt! A geeky pair of thick rimmed glasses and permanent marker freckles are also a great addition, and for the girls – pig tails.

Beach Party: Beach party is another easy fancy dress theme, frequently done by universities as well! All you need here is a Hawaiian or standard t-shirt and a pair of summery looking shorts. Flip-Flops or sandals are a good addition and sun glasses as well. There is a very high chance on of these will come up in your university freshers’ week. If you are hosting it yourself don’t forget an inflatable beach ball and palm trees.

Gangsters (Mafia Style):1920s Mafia style gangster parties are always a good fancy dress party idea! A white shirt, black trousers, bow tie or black tie and a gangster style hat! An inflatable Tommy Gun is always an added bonus.

The Eighties: Get everyone to dress up eighties style! Bright colours, rara skirts and leg warmers! Dress up as Michael Jackson, Madonna, that generic eighties glam rock band. Don’t forget the classic eighties films Back to the Future and Ghostbusters as well as TV cults Danger Mouse and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Not failing to omit  your punk rock or mullet wigs, while having some distinctive 80s music (David Bowie, Poison, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Scorpions, Huey Lewis and Ray Parker Jr) if you are hosting it yourself.

The Sixties and Seventies: My favourite decades for music (The Who, Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Jefferson Airplane, Neil Young) the sixties and seventies were all about hippies and flower power! As well as hippy costumes there is also Saturday Night Fever and ABBA.

Labcoat/Geeks Party: It’s about the simplest and easy idea in the book, especially if you are doing a science degree, get everyone in their lab coats with some thick rimmed glasses. If your hosting it yourself you can always get some shot glass test tubes and fill them with Jagermeister.

Individuals: Isn’t it funny how these so called individual people end up looking exactly the same?! Well now is the time to mock them! Get everyone to dress up in exactly the exact same clothing.

Big Wigs: If you can find a healthy supply of big wigs, get everyone in a garish orange mullet or something.

Other Theme Ideas: Cops and Robbers, Doctors and Nurses, Cowboys and Cowgirls, Cowboys and Indians, Toffs and Twats, Disney, Cartoons, TV, Movies, Music Themes, Elvis, Animals, Food, Famous People, Celebrities, Christmas, The Alphabet, Clashing Colours, Golfers, “Posh People”, Nintendo Characters, Computer Games, Cavemen, Goths, Emos, Beauty and the Geek, Sea Creatures, Pimps and Whores, Superheroes and Villains, Pyjama Party, Harry Potter, Pacman, Clowns and Circus, Military Themed, Emergency Services Themed, Star Wars, Heaven and Hell, Pirate Party, Medieval, Eygptian, Celtic, Easter, French Stereotype the list goes on!

Fancy Dress Ideas

Can’t think of what to dress as? Here are same themes and some ideas to go with them.


  • Heroes: Superman, Spiderman, Catwoman, Superwoman, Batman & Robin, Wolverine, Austin Powers, Harry Potter, Captain Jack Sparrow, Dr Who, Luke Skywalker, Zorro.
  • Villains: Lex Luthor, Magneto, Dr Evil, Snape, Voldermort, Hook, Daleks, Cybermen, Darth Vader, Jaws.
  • James Bond Villains: Dr No, Blofeld, Jaws, Goldfinger, Oddjob, Scaramanga, Largo
  • Movies: Wizard of Oz, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Men in Black, James Bond, Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Tony Montana, Godfather
  • Children’s TV: Dennis the Menace, Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Super Ted, Banana Man, Bananas in Pyjamas, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Captain Caveman, Yogi Bear, Penelope Pit Stop, Dick Dastardly, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote.
  • Disney: Chip and Dale, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Beauty and the Beast characters, Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Toy Story, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Captain Jack Sparrow, Monsters Inc, Shrek, Ariel, Cruella DeVil, Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Seven Dwarfs, Tinker Bell, Pocahontas.
  • Sci-Fi: Star Trek characters, in particular Spock and Data are probably the easiest to do, or if you happen to have a bald head, Captains Picard or Sisko!


  • Nintendo: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Pikachu, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Link, Zelda.
  • Other: Sonic, Snake, Sam Fisher, Pacman, Ghosts of Pacman.


  • Animals: Bees, Wasps, Mice, Giraffes, Elephants, Monkeys, Gorillas, Lady Birds, Flies, Penguins, Whales, Spiders, Zebras, Cats, Dogs, Rats, Rabbits, Bats.
  • Music: Elvis, Amy Winehouse, Dolly Parton, Punk Rockers, Emo Rockers, Glam Rockers, Freddie Mercury.
  • Halloween: Zombie, Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, Bat, Cruella DeVil, Mummy, Devil, Ghosts, Skeletons, Witch, Wizards, Edward Scissorhand, Werewolf.
  • Christmas: Santa, Reindeer, Present, Christmas Tree, Elf, Mrs Clause, Christmas Cracker, Christmas Turkey.
  • Famous People: David Bowie, Axl Rose, Elvis, Dolly Parton, Madonna, Blues Brothers.
  • Emergency Services: Fire, Police, SWAT, Paramedic, Doctor, Nurse, Police Car, Fire Engine, Surgeon, Mountain Rescue, Coast Guard.
  • Pirate Party: Generic Pirate, Generic Pirate Captain with Parrot, Captain Jack Sparrow, Hook, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Pirates of the Caribbean Characters, Long John Silver.

There are infinitely more suggestions, but I’ve not got the time to go through and list every single idea. If you have any more great ideas please suggest them in the comment box below! Check out House Parties Guide if you are planning on hosting your own party.


2 Responses to Fancy Dress

  1. Tom says:

    Shrek is not a Disney character ¬_¬

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