Fancy Dress Sorted

Freshers, been invited to join the hallowed elite of your college’s drinking society? Or has a friend just come up with a uniquely uninteresting birthday party theme? Let LAURA DENNEHY teach you Fancy Dress 101.

Animal Cambridge Drinking drinking society fancy dress Initiations Laura Dennehy Mahal No Clothes school Swap

Cambridge treats fancy dress with the enthusiasm and excitement of a rower faced with a 6’5″ fresher. Expect to get more creative than Mummy did for your 5th birthday Bagpuss costume – except this time hopefully you won’t be put to bed halfway through the party when you’ve overdone it on the cheesy pineapples.

So for those of you who are not yet dab hands with the body paint or who still lack the skills to turn an old pizza box to a novelty hat, here’s The Tab’s guide to Cambridge’s favourite fancy dress themes.

No clothes

Not as simple as it sounds from the name, but, on the plus side, not as chilly either. No clothes means fashioning an outfit out of non-clothing items. But bluntly, it means rooting through your bin. Try making a bin bag dress.

You will need:

– 1 x bin bag
– 2 x Sainsbury’s orange bags
– Duct tape

How to?

– Take one bin bag and cut the closed end off to make it into a bin bag tube. Step into it and then adjust it to fit you with the help of a roll of duct tape.
– Take an orange Sainsbury’s bag and fold it lengthways into a long, thin strip a couple of inches wide. Tie this round your waist as a belt.
– Take another Sainsbury’s bag and tie in a massive bow, the bigger the better.
– Attach it to the middle of the waistband of your dress.

Price? £2.72: 73p for Sainsbury’s Basics bin bags and £1.99 for the vital parcel tape to hold it all together. The beauty of using Sainsbury’s bags is that they come free with your other purchases.

Noah’s Ark

Step away from the overdone “sexy leopard” and embrace the entire animal kingdom. Try Penguin.

You will need:

– A white t shirt
– A black jacket
– Black leggings
– 1 x pair of rubber gloves
– Yellow Card
– Hairband
– White card
– Sellotape

How to?

– Put on your white T shirt, leggings and jacket.
– Pull a rubber glove onto each foot. Instant flippers!
– Secure with sellotape.
– Take a piece of yellow card and cut into a large equilateral triangle, about the height of an A4 page.
– Fold the triangle in half down the centre.
– Attach the short side of the triangle to the hairband with sellotape so that you create a little peaked cap.
– Make two large “eyes” out of circles of white card with black pupils.
– Stick the eyes on the top of the hairband above the beak.
– Put on your hairband and adjust beak and eyes accordingly.

Price? £8.94: WHSmith’s Sellotape £2.49, WHSmith’s white card £.2.99, WHSmith’s bright card £2.99, Sainsbury’s basics rubber gloves 47p. And you get two pairs for that, so you can even double up with a friend. Bargain.


For your base take a white shirt, a tie and black skirt or trousers, then accessorise as you want, there are a number of ways you can reinvent this genre.

Try “geek in a science explosion”.

You will need:

– Geek glasses
– Soot (black body paint, black eyeshadow or plain old simple dirt depending on how far your budget stretches)
– Lab coat borrowed from an unsuspecting Natsci

How to?

– Take a pair of 3d glasses from Cineworld (you may need to also go and see a 3D film in order to get away with buying these. If you have to, consider it “research” for the costume).
– Pop out the lenses, you now have the perfect geek glasses.
– Backcomb your hair to mammoth proportions.
– Scrunch up your face in the kind of expression you might make if a test tube of acid was exploding near your face.
– Rub black face paint onto your face.
– Unscrunch and you have the perfect scorch marks.

Price: £4.79: 80p for 3D glasses from Cineworld, £3.99 for black face and body paint from Partymania (34-36 Burleigh Street, Cambridge; 01223 313 000).