When the invitation to the costume party arrives, you do one of two things: agonize for weeks over what you’ll wear and then end up going as something totally weird or totally lame, or you shrug your shoulders and decide to pull out the bunny ears or cowboy hat, yet again.

Stop! While dressing up for a costume party is undoubtedly fun, there are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you’re getting ready — chief among them: DON’T wear the same tired old costume that you’ve worn to the last five dress-up events. Do you really want to be that predictable and have all of your friends roll their eyes and say “A bunny/cat/ghost/zombie, as usual?” Didn’t think so.


So when you’re preparing for your next costume party, follow these simple rules to not only have fun but also hear more “What an amazing costume!” and less “What a bore.”

DO Have Fun

So you loved Rainbow Brite or My Little Pony as a kid? Who says you can’t dress up like them now? Just because it’s a grown-up costume party doesn’t mean you have to dress up as a sexy-whatever. The whole point of the party is to have a good time, so do what makes you happy, even if it’s not the most glamorous idea. Don’t be afraid to look a little silly or wear something that’s the opposite of your personality. That’s the whole point of a costume, right?

DO Be Comfortable

If you’re not comfortable in your costume, you aren’t going to have fun. If you’re constantly pulling or tugging to keep things in place, or if pieces of your outfit are digging into your skin or chafing, it’s going to be a long night. Choose a costume that you feel comfortable and confident in and that allows you to move around easily and safely.

DO Consider Where You’re Going

Not every costume is appropriate for every event. Sure, the outfit you donned for Halloween last year was hysterical and won the prize for “Most Inappropriate” at your fraternity’s annual bash, but is it really the best choice for the PTA costume party? When choosing your costume, consider the crowd at the event, and dress accordingly. Also consider where the party will be held; the costume with the giant hoop skirt might not be the best choice for an event at a crowded nightclub.

DO Be Relevant and Creative

Certain costumes, like Dorothy from the “Wizard of Oz” and superheroes will always be relevant. Other costumes lose their relevancy fairly quickly. Do you want to dress up as the polarizing political figure who hasn’t been in the news for more than a year? Choosing a timely costume based on up-to-the-minute events is creative and you’ll receive more compliments on your choice.

DON’T Mistake Lingerie for a Costume

Ok, we get it — a costume party, especially one with a fun theme “Tarts and Vicars,” is the time to stretch outside of your comfort zone. However, showing up in your undies or a nightie is not a costume. If you’re going to go the sexy route, at least make your costume something with a purpose, like a sexy nurse or police officer.

DON’T Insult Your Friends

Sure, it seems like it would be funny to dress up like your boss or your mother, but no one likes to be made fun of. Since the whole idea of a costume is to go over the top, the person you’re imitating will probably be insulted if they discover you’ve been mocking them.

DON’T Overcomplicate Matters

If you find yourself having to explain your costume to everyone you meet, you’ve gone in the wrong direction. Keep your costume simple but recognizable.

DON’T Go as Yourself

Finally, the most important rule: Wear a costume, any costume. Going as yourself is just a cop-out. Your friends see you as yourself all the time. Unless you are Lady Gaga, and going in regular clothing would qualify as a costume, do something. You’ll feel silly when you’re the only one at the party who isn’t dressed up.

So the next time an invitation to a costume party lands in your mailbox, put away the kitty-cat ears and find something more creative to wear. Most importantly, have fun. You’ll be on top of the guest list for every other costume party to come.

About the Author: After years of wearing the same tired hippie costume, fashion blogger Trish Emery branched out and has since attended parties dressed as everything from Snow White to a bottle of ketchup. She finds all her best costume ideas at http://www.totallycostumes.com.