Monday 17 March 2014

Easy to Make Dress Up Clothes...

Like most young kids, we played Dress Ups as a way of amusing ourselves when we were growing up. I have few recollections as to where our imaginations led us in our make believe world, but I do know we had lots of fun.

We often dressed up in Mum's old ball gowns. There was a box, or maybe it was a large tin case, of clothes that we were allowed to raid. Perhaps there were other clothes in there too, but I only remember the glamorous ball gowns, made with shiny, shimmery fabric. These were dresses unlike any we had in our own wardrobe.

In the photo above, I'm standing front left, my sister is at the back and a neighbour is on the right. We obviously didn't have matching shoes to dress up in, as we were wearing the standard Aussie shoe attire for all kids of that era... thongs. No, not our underwear!!! If you've been reading Threading My Way for a while, you know that the thongs we wear on our feet are the same as flip flops to the rest of the world. We were more than adequately covered in our Bonds Schoolgirl Cottontails!!!

The Australian Women's Weekly, 13th August, 1951 ~ National Library of Australia

This ad was printed before I was born, but underwear in this style was standard for decades. So, that's what we were wearing underneath our dress up clothes. 

Here's my Mum and Dad, before children, with Mum wearing one of her gorgeous ball gowns. Fancy letting us run around the backyard in beautiful dresses like this!!! I suppose Mum wasn't going to use them again, but never the less, we probably ruined them. 

According to my sister, who seems to have a better memory than me, this dress was a lightish sky blue bordering on mauve - a water-wave taffeta. As a teenager, my sister altered this dress and wore it on a 20km walk-a-thon.

I didn't have any ball gowns for our kids to dress up in, so they improvised with less glamorous clothes. We did buy Spiderman and Batman costumes, but in reality, there was no need to buy anything.

I have no idea what my kids were role playing in this photo, but it's something they often did. Pieces of tulle are very handy to have in the dress up box. Ice cream containers obviously come in handy, too. That big spoon was something we once had hanging on the wall... LOL!!! Much better for the kids to play with.

I love this photo!!! The kids may be less than impressed with me showing it to you, though. I came home one day, to find Mr TMW had let the kids raid his motor bike gear... scarf, gloves and the leather jacket on the floor. No, the egg carton goggles weren't his!!! From memory, they were flying an aeroplane.

Very little has been purchased for the current generation, either. We tend to make do with whatever's on hand. Letting the kids role play and use their imaginations is the most important thing and they don't need perfectly made costumes to do this.

On a recent visit to the Op Shop (Thrift Store), I purchased two skirts for $3 each. After alterations, I thought they'd be perfect for the dress up box. The one above is a large size, originally from Valley Girl and falls to just below my knees. 

The second skirt is a size 8 (small) made by Callan Designs and would not have been cheap when first bought. This one is just a little longer than the first, but obviously narrower.

Little Miss has been invited to a birthday party where the guests have been asked to wear Dress Up clothes and I've been asked to help with the outfit. I'll show Little Miss the following and see what she thinks...

I've taken out the side zip and added elastic to the waist of the tulle skirt, as well adding a couple of tucks. Add a leotard and perhaps Little Miss would like to go as a ballerina, with full length, flowing tutu. Or perhaps a princess would be more to her liking... add a sparkly t-shirt and a tiara.

The pink, floral skirt has been shortened by turning the top over to form a waistband and elastic added, so it should now be ankle length and a lot narrower at the waist. A gypsy dress perhaps... add a white peasant blouse and some beads. Ha ha... here's the adult view point entering. Do kids even know what gypsies are?

  • Cinderella dress... it was a Cinderella dress almost two years ago. It's still a skirt that might be able to be adapted.
  • Perfect Princess Dress... well, according to Little Miss it was perfect a year ago. It's a little the worse for wear now, but still up for consideration.
  • Mermaid outfit... this one looks nothing like the original, but the lace may be useful.
  • Superhero cape... whilst this may be used a lot around the house, I'm guessing it won't be first choice to wear to a party with mainly girls. I think this one's out!

I'm actually guessing that Little Miss won't choose any of the above, which doesn't matter at all. The new skirts will be added to the dress up box, along with the other outfits. They're bound to get lots of use.

This one's also from an Op Shop, but not bought by me. It belongs to a friend of mine and is only on loan for the party, if Little Miss chooses. A fairy costume... Tinkerbell, but in the wrong colour? I'm not up on the names of current characters. All we need are some wings and a wand. I'm guessing this outfit will be first choice, but we'll see. It all depends on what Little Miss has in her head.

It's a pity we don't still have some of Mum's gorgeous ball gowns. The kids would have LOVED dressing up in them, just as my sister and I did!!!

... Pam


  1. I have the fabric and pattern to make a fox costume for one of our g-nephews - we had Mr. Dress-up here in Canada, along with his Tickle Trunk - I want to populate a tickle trunk with all kinds of fun dress-up goodies for him :D

  2. In TX we always called our flip flops thongs also, I stopped about ten years ago because of the underwear though - LOL!

  3. Hi, Pam!

    What a great post! We can all remember our days of playing dress up with our mom's clothes. My two girls loved to do it and could come up with some inventive costuming and now I love to watch my grandchildren doing the same.

    It was great fun looking at some of the dresses in the dress up box. That tutu is wonderful!

    The last dress is your post might not pass off for Tinkerbell, but it would be great for one of the other Pixie Hollow fairies. Silver Mist wears blues and sometimes dons a bit of purple. You can go to this site to see a video with her in it: I tried to paste it in here, but it probably won't work. You might be able to cut and paste it into your search bar. Being Disney fans and having provided daycare for all the granddaughters for all of them until they enrolled in school, I know a little (lot) about all the Disney characters. I have watched all the movies and telly shows more times than I care to relate!

    I love the pic of you and your sister playing dress up and the one of your parents is so glamorous. They could are such a gorgeous couple and could have been stepping out to a Hollywood gala!

    Happy St. Patty's Day, friend!!!

  4. Great post, love the photos you are sharing! You are right, kids do have great imaginations...often my daughter wraps herself in blanket and calls it her "wonderful dress." Dress-up play is not something I did when I was a kid, but I guess I am enjoying it now by dressing up my daughter ;)

  5. GREAT post Pam, you really took me back! I LOVED our dress-up box! I distinctly remember there were two dresses which were my was yellow and one was blue and I felt like a princess whenever I wore them. I wasn't lucky enough to have a sister to share the fun with, so my cats were the next best thing, wearing dolls clothes! LOLLL...of course, I would have been wearing thongs as well....and for that matter, I still do! LOLLL Not the cottontails anymore though....I will pass on those! LOLLL

  6. i never had dress up clothes as a girl so i make sure my girls are well stocked! :) love this post! thanks for the flashback pics. :)


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