There was so much to explore with this week’s prompt of Dressing Up, that I really wish I’d managed to get my two example pieces in last week and have my say twice! – I’ve had several attempts trying to write something incorporating toga parties and purple themed fancy dress choices from witches to fairies (even attempting an acrostic – now that is a constraint!)

It became clear that I am evidently the one who holds the camera in our family, as I found no record of me sporting wigs, wings or wicked grins. Most disappointing was the lack of record of a fabulous murder mystery dinner party with friends when I went as the somewhat over-the-hill trapeze artist “Raisa Legova” – I backcombed my hair, painted on harsh black eyeliner and rather cruel red lipstick and thoroughly ‘got into the part’ – accent and all!

Geoff commented that ‘the prompt has certainly released the inner camp in a lot of people. I wonder what is behind this urge to be someone else?’ He wants to know what your theories are.

For me there’s something that forces the child back out from the restraints of an all too intense adult life. It took me a while to get my Legova just right but suddenly I rediscovered a whole new creativity about pretending to be someone else – More observations of the subtle differences between us to attempt to mimic? Perhaps more understanding as a result?

Sherri says her daughter loves the whole dressing up thing as a way of seeking out identity. Perhaps that’s what we’re all up to, especially as children, the role playing being one way of testing and affirming certain things.

For those that would be actors though, this goes another step further. I know Max loves the challenge of understanding and building the entire character, clothes, posture, accent and any other detail that might serve to persuade you he’s really someone else. To him your entertainment and understanding of his dressing up is only good enough, if you forget that it is him.

What do you think?

In a particularly fun compilation this week with some excellent pictures, I would urge you to pop through and check out other’s blog posts as there’s much more to explore in a lot of them!

I ran out of time to chase for confirmation of which photo you might each like for me to share but that gave me excuse to disregard Irene’s preferences anyway and share the beard made of her own dog’s hair – was the poor blighter bald for the play? I think we should be told!

 

Oliver – UK

Shakespeare had it right. I had only to don the cheap, brown, felt stetson and leatherette bandolier, and wave my chromed six-gun and I was the original man-with-no-name. Not Clint Eastwood. ’Who was that masked man?’ I was the Lone Ranger. And don’t try to tell me that ‘Pale Rider’ was not inspired by him. Then, heroes were all black and white. So why was my outfit brown? Back then, people didn’t question the relationship with ‘Tonto’. It was, after all, an age of innocence.

I moved on, of course. Virtue became defined by the shine on my shoes, the straightness of my woggle, and my ability to protect my sixer from attack from the rear by purple troop. Then later again, carrying an unloaded automatic rifle, I had to march up and down in a blue baize uniform practicing to unquestioningly serve my country. History was repeating itself. I was ‘the man with no name’.

 

Geoff Le Pard – UK – The Archaeologist and the Aztec

Long before science crossbred a geek and a nerd, the Archaeologist was a neek. Amongst other punishments I suffered for his galaxy-sized intellect was a trip to the British Museum to see an exhibition of Aztec artefacts. I remember a crystal skull and the mind-numbing boredom. He was as happy as a politician with a blank expenses form. Back home, unbeknownst to the rest of us, he made himself a cardboard Aztec warrior outfit. With it on, he announced he was going to walk around the neighbourhood. I can still see my mother’s anxiety and my father’s barely suppressed laughter as he set off, like a little lost parcel clutching a small sword. He spent an age out of sight, possibly seeking a neighbour to sacrifice, before returning for tea. The costume was recycled into a replica of the Black Hole of Calcutta but fortunately I was too big for it.

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Tracey Scott Townsend – UK 

First Communion was a dressing-up event. Pictures of my nieces show them wearing long wedding-style gowns and veils, elegant pre-pubescent brides of the church, photographed with praying hands. When I made my First Communion my dress was short: I was a sixties bride. I must’ve had a funny-shaped head, the plastic band from which the short veil hung bowed out at the sides. My hair was short too. In a blurry photo showing me in the church’s small yard my seven-year-old knees are pudgy.

My sisters and I were fans of The Sound of Music. Because I was seven when the film came out, I was Marta. My older sister was Liesl and my youngest, Gretel. We got together with a neighbouring family to practice, asking Mum if we could wear our communion dresses to put on a performance for Dad’s birthday. She said no.

 

Suzanne – Canada – Playing Princess

brideFox stole, crinoline, satin and organza dresses, rhinestone jewellery, lace veil, and beaded drawstring evening bag; what more could a woman want? Or a little girl. My youngest auntie would dress me up in all this out-dated paraphernalia from some treasure chest in my grandparents’ house. I had no idea whose wardrobe and accessories these were to begin with, definitely not my grandmother’s as she was a plain dresser. I did not care; to me they were all mine! My Dad suspects they were left behind by Great-Aunt Lily who lived in California for awhile. I was only about four years old when Auntie Louise and I started this fantastical game of dress-up, but I remember bits and pieces of it to this day. To my delight, a couple of years ago my parents found photos of me in splendid bliss as “the princess” and “the bride”.

 

Luccia Gray – UK – Princess for One Day

wpid-20140701_163752I will never forget the white shoes. They were too tight, but they didn’t have a larger size, so I pretended they fit, of course I had painful blisters the next day, but I didn’t mind. It was a small price to pay for feeling like a princess. I wore a long white wedding-style dress with veil that my mother made. I had so many photos taken at home and at church that I felt like a star. I was a very excited seven-year-old princess, for one day. After the ceremony we had a party in the Church Hall, at St. Joseph’s, Harrow Weald. I was at Primary School then, and I’ve lost touch with all the other girls in the picture, which saddens me. I have met many people along the way, but few have remained as part of my life. Perhaps if we had had Facebook, and Blogs, and smart phones, we’d still be in touch…?

 

 

Jude – UK

I was never one to dress up in my mother’s clothes or shoes. I’d have caught a clip around the ear if I’d tried. She would not have been amused. She had dozens of pairs of shoes and matching handbags and all I could do was to look at them – not touch. Soft suede, highly shiny black patent, courts and sandals. In Grammar School I took Drama and we had to put on a few plays. I remember a couple well, for completely different reasons, but in one – the Willow Pattern story – I played a Japanese school girl who had to sit on the floor listening attentively to the ‘Storyteller’. My mother, not one for sewing, allowed me to wear her beautiful silk dressing gown which looked like a kimono. It had pink and red peonies and tied with a soft pink silk belt. I felt like a beautiful princess.

 

Irene Waters – Australia

For fancy dress parties in the early days I was Little Bo Peep and my brother a cowboy. Twice this varied — once going as Sad Sack and another time when we went as Siamese twins in my Father’s pyjama pants. We were co-joined at the back and I drew the short straw and walked backwards all night.

It was a dress up in adult hood that had me itching to get out of my costume. I was the male lead in a musical – I can neither sing nor profess to being male. At one point I had to sport a beard. This was easily done and appealed to my recycling bent as I collected my dog’s hair for the weeks prior and wove it into a hairy beard with no thought to the allergy I would suffer as a result.

melodrama-bedraggled-wilf

 

Morgan Dragonwillow – USA – Falling into the Imagination

I remember a box at grandmothers filled with dresses, white, cream, blue and green.

I remember being able to escape as I fell into a world of imagination, as I put on those dresses and became a princess, a grande lady at a party, or a queen.

I remember feeling anything was possible while in those dresses, that magic was real, that someday I would be my own person, that someday I would fly away, unseen.

I remember having to say goodbye to those dresses, board a plane to far away lands, living as if in the in between.

I remember crying myself to sleep, wishing myself back to grandmothers, back to those dresses in a box, back to being a princess laughing and dancing.

I remember moments of escape – playing with a scarf, swirling, twirling as nightmares roam the edges waiting.

I remember joy filling my heart as we boarded the plane back home, grinning at the thought of seeing the box again, the dresses and my next fitting.

I remember running out to the old play room, searching every nook and cranny, becoming more and more anxious as my heart felt like it was going to stop beating.

I remember the words so lightly tossed, of no consequence, they had been given away, or thrown away, long ago – turning around, tears falling.

I remember being grown, having a box of my own that will never disappear, will always be here for the grand babies… and me, playing.

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Sherri Matthews – UK – A Strange Town

rockers-rock-chicks-2009-004A couple of years ago, hubby and I were invited to a costume party so I turned to the family expert for suggestions: My Aspie daughter.

Her forte is dressing up. As a female Aspie, role-playing and disguise comes naturally as it helps her seek out her identity, her ‘fit’ in the world. As such, she has an array of outfits. And wigs.

I settled on a long, flaming-red wig coupled with an old, black dress slashed at the hem and  my sparkly wedding tiara. Hubby wore an Arabian Thawb, something he had brought back from a business trip to Saudi Arabia.

On the way to the party, we realised we had forgotten to bring some wine, so we stopped off at our local supermarket. It wasn’t until we got back into the car that we remembered how we were dressed.

The strange thing was, nobody had batted an eyelid.

 

Lisa Reiter – UK – Lessons in Love

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Max as Romeo for Shakespeare’s Schools Festival 2013

With the arrogance of youth and feminist anti-domestication, I sniffed at Mrs King’s suggestion I choose Home Economics. I assured her I would be doing ‘proper’ O Levels.

But as the years pass, when I’m choosing faux furs, stretch fleece or plain felts, when puzzling patterns with sheets of newspaper or sat at my machine, she flashes through my mind. I’d apologise but she’s long gone.

Skills she taught, result in labours of love threading joy, pinning hopes and stitching the fabric of my boy’s dreams to re-enact his hero’s triumphs, til now they are his own.

 

 

The next prompt for Bite Size Memoir will be out tomorrow.

Why don’t you have a go?!

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