3 Retro Costume Party Ideas That Don’t Involve Mad Men

While we’re thrilled that Banana Republic is launching a Mad Men-inspired line this August, we can’t help but suppress a dainty yawn at the thought of attending more costume parties inspired by the show.

If we wanted to surround ourselves with rich, stylishly miserable people, we'd visit our parents more often.

So here are three fresh ideas for your next referential soiree:


Although not as inherently appealing as martinis and philandering, this theme offers surprising flexibility: You could go the traditional 1984 route, with blue coveralls and a deliberately limited vocabulary, or try the Philip K. Dick cyberpunk aesthetic. Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale can don long-sleeved red dresses, winged hats, and pop out babies in the corner. Or if blissful hedonism is more your bag, do Brave New World, with color-coded wardrobe by caste (AP English Lit refresher: gray for Alphas, Mulberry for Betas, khaki for Deltas, green for Gammas, and black for Epsilons) and lots of drug-fueled sex. Hmm. We’re going to have to side with Huxley on this one.

Ironic pickup line for the occasion: "Everyone says I'm awfully pneumatic."

Or you could tackle the hottest girl at the party and shave her head. We can't tell you how to run your love life.


This isn’t some half-assed affair in which you can show up as Van Gogh with a bandage clasped to the wrong ear — that’s akin to saying your favorite book is The Great Gatsby, or that your favorite band is Coldplay. Choose your favorite art movement and dress accordingly: Art Noveau for the waify dreamers, Futurism for the fascists, Surrealism for the delightfully insane. We once knew a man who wore a bowler hat to a party and held a green apple in front of his face the entire time: that’s dedication.

We want to love this mustache and never let it go.


Mr. Bridges has enjoyed a long, venerable career, and it’s about time you paid homage through drunken costuming. The Big Lebowski, Tron, and True Grit are gimmees for the novices, but hard-core enthusiasts could attempt The Fabulous Baker Boys or The Last Unicorn.

Bonus round: Nic Cage, although some may express concern that either of these themes may prove difficult for female party-goers. We say that any girl willing to dress up in a bear suit and punch Leelee Sobieski in the face is a woman of great wisdom and valor.


As always, you can get expert advice on purchases, pop cultural or otherwise, at ShopSquad.


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