Little Girls and Their Love of Dressing Up in Mommy’s Old Clothes

Little girls want to be princesses. It’s something born into them. They love to dress up, and the fancier the better. Starting at the young age of three or even two, if you give them a fancy hat or boa, they will parade around in it, feeling glamorous. But if you want to give them the best dress up accessories, buy them rhinestone tiaras and rhinestone chokers.

The easiest way to outfit a little girl as a princess is to just buy a Disney costume for her. Disney has a full stable of princesses, from Snow White to Jasmine. The best advantage of these costumes is that they are sized for children, whereas common dress-up clothes are adult sized. Of course, there is the other side of that coin is that the child may outgrow the costume before she outgrows dressing up. In my opinion, another disadvantage is that the Disney costumes are commercialized and catch the kids up in the rat race of buying things because the sellers tell us that the goods are what we can’t live without. I’m more in favor of “found” dress-ups for many reasons. The biggest reason is that more creativity and imagination are required when Mom’s sparkly party jacket is worn than when the store-bought costume has a picture of the character on the front.

Unfortunately, amassing a collection of dress-up clothes was much easier when the grandmas were children than it is today. Back in the Fifties, today’s great-grandmas wore fluffy, frilly can-can petticoats under their dresses to make the full skirts stand out. The little girls of the Fifties could put on one of these, put on a gaudy necklace, add a big purse, and be the Princess of Glamour or Agatha Mucha Moulah. Moms in those days wore dresses much more often than do moms today. Back then, they always wore dresses to church and the office and even shopping sometimes. Today’s moms wear a dress or skirt much more rarely. And what kid wants a pair of old jeans for dressing up?

The favorite dress-up item of my kids is an old faux Persian lamb cape that Great-Grandma wore in the 1930s. This faux Persian lamb is a black, furry, looped fabric with a slight sheen. Over the many years and generations of kids that played with it, it has been everything from a cape to a skirt to a hat. And it is still almost as beautiful as the day it was first worn to a party over a dressy frock more than 70 years ago.

Today’s best dress-ups are probably dressy jackets that have out-lived their usefulness as party wear. As jackets, they most likely are not so long that the girls who wear them will trip over them. You probably also have an out-dated necklace to contribute to the costume. Then spend a few dollars on a fancy tiara and inexpensive evening purse (or donate one of your own), and your kids can be the most beautiful princesses ever.



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