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The History and Art of Dress Up in my Family

June 23, 2014

In my family, dress up has long been an intricate and enjoyable art. Here is a little of our dress-up history, as well as a few tips on how to dress up well.

Early Dress Up

Dora and Jennie, my two oldest sisters, began it. Here they are, dressed as old ladies. For old lady dress up, powdered hair and glasses worn low on the nose give a realistic effect.

Dora

Dora

Jennie

Jennie

My sisters and I dressed as clowns one day. We found that markers worked well as face paints, and lavender yarn as clown curls. Mismatched shoes add an amusing touch.

Dora, Jennie, Luci, Kathy

Dora, Jennie, Luci, Kathy

We girls loved to put dresses on our little brothers.

Chad and Jeffrey in dresses

Chad and Jeffrey in dresses

In later years, we found that dressing ourselves as guys was also fun. Stocking caps can be used to cover long hair, and the age old pillow stuffing trick works for extra weight.

Luci, Kathy, and Elizabeth

Luci, Kathy, and Elizabeth

With a little imagination, garbage bags make great pirate costumes. Construction paper can be used for eye patches and black marker (permanent) for goatees.

Kathy, Chad, Jeffrey, Benny

Kathy, Chad, Jeffrey, Benny

A chenille throw and paper crown will do for any princess.

Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth

Accessories

Sometimes all it takes is a handy accessory, a sun hat, perhaps, or a pair of glasses, to give one that exotic feel of dressing up.

Sombreros:

Luci and Kathy

Luci and Kathy

Sun hat:

Elizabeth

Elizabeth

Coonskin:

Benny

Benny

A Floppy Flower Hat has an interesting effect on the contours of the face.

A Floppy Flower Hat has an interesting effect on the contours of the face.

Kathy in a Floppy Flower Hat

Glasses are another easy dress-up accessory. In the photo below, Jennie and I model glasses as well as slips, worn on the outside instead of the inside for an apron effect. We were proud of our ingenuity.

Luci and Jennie

Luci and Jennie

A pair of sunglasses can give one the casual, distant air of a movie star. My niece MacKenzie is the model here. She wears them well.

MacKenzie in Glasses

“No reporters, please.”

Everyone has an uncle like this, right? I mean the sort who put on nose glasses and ham around.

Uncle TJ

Uncle TJ

Rock Stars

One day my siblings and I dressed as rock stars. Or tried. Jeffrey won the prize for best acting. Let’s not tell him that rock stars don’t really use keyboards. We spent hours finding black items of clothing, experimenting with the lighting, and scrambling to get in place for timed photos.

We perform in an innovative music genre, comedy rock.

We perform in an innovative music genre, comedy rock.

Jeffrey the Rock Star

Jeffrey the Rock Star

Kathy, Jeffrey, Chad

Kathy, Jeffrey, Chad

Dress-Up Events

A great way to make dress up a part of your life is to host a special event. There are many imaginative ways to do this.

Hobo Supper

One evening, my parents hosted a hobo supper. They invited the church youth group to come dressed as hobos. Suppers were cooked individually on tin cans. To do this, we heated coal in a small tin can and placed the small can below a larger can to create a hot surface for cooking.

The youth group, endeavoring to look glum and hobo-ish.

The youth group, endeavoring to look glum and hobo-ish.

Jeffrey prepares for a tin can supper

Jeffrey prepares for a tin can supper

Costume Party

Another evening, my family hosted a costume party. It took me hours to design my costume. I used a large swathe of fabric for a dress; designed an elegant lady’s hat with poster board, tulle, and silver ribbon; and taped construction paper tips to my modern-day shoes for that authentic pointed effect.

Luci in the Middle Ages

Luci from the Middle Ages

Is that a black Hindu Muslim standing with the Kenyan lady?

Rose, a good friend, with my sister Kathy

Rose, a good friend, with my sister Kathy

My two youngest brothers dressed for the event as an organ grinder and Daniel Boone.

Benny and Chad

Benny and Chad

Book Day

During my school-teaching years in Virginia, I planned a book day. Students came dressed in costumes to match a book character.

Laura Ingalls, Harriet Tubman, Paddington Bear, Amelia Bedelia, Heidi, and John Bunyan's daughter

Laura Ingalls, Harriet Tubman, Paddington Bear, Amelia Bedelia, Heidi, and John Bunyan’s blind daughter, Mary

Barn Social

Also in Virginia, I attended a barn social held in a hay loft. My costume was a new spin on cowgirl, complete with an orange ribbon hat, multicolored dress, and denim vest.

Luci the Cowgirl

Luci the Cowgirl

Fancy Ladies Tea

My sister Jennie hosted a fancy ladies’ tea as a birthday party one year. The results were varied and imaginative.

Mom, Kathy, Elizabeth, Luci

Mom, Kathy, Elizabeth, Luci

Elizabeth models her costume

Elizabeth

Mall Hide-and-Go-Seek

Try this one for originality. My cousin Krista, and her husband Jamin, took part in a youth event where participants entered the mall in disguise and tried to find other disguised mall goers from their group. Would you have recognized this couple?

Before

Before

After

After

Masks

A simple and effective method of dress up, especially with the intent to scare, is to don a mask. This mask is popular in my family and has elicited more than its share of screams.

MaskAnd thus I conclude this history of the art of dress up in my family. Dress up has intrigued, delighted, and amused people of all ages for centuries. Plan your costume party today.

 

 

3 comments

  1. Tiana and I are sitting here LAUGHING!!! This is my all-time favorite post!!! and it makes us miss you guys a LOT!! Many good memories of dressing up with you! 🙂 And do rock stars use harmonicas as well as keyboards?? 😛 Were you there for the barn party in LaVell’s loft? I think Kathy won the prize that time.

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