The first time I played dress up in my life was aged around five. I was wearing my Mum’s wedding dress. Am not entirely sure why anyone at the time thought this was a good idea, and my lasting impression of the scene was that there was a lot of fabric. I don’t think from these humble beginnings I could have quite anticipated my trajectory in this area of my life, but it has been interesting.
I recall being an ‘angel’ in various primary school plays, with a long white dress and tinsel wrapped around my head. Then aged ten, I finally won the hallowed blue dress and got to be Mary because somebody else was ill. Only based on the baby that was already in the crib, and the one I was told to carry on stage (the acting direction was poor), it sort of looked like a massive rewrite of the Nativity. I went to see ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ after with my Uncle. It was an epic day.
After primary, there was a significant fourteen-year gap in my dress up adventuring. And it was an upgrade. It was chainmail. For a couple of years, I engaged in live role play, which for the uninitiated is this. Imagine six hundred people going into an actual cave system and hitting each other with padded latex weaponry, whilst adorning themselves with new names and fancy costumes. There was a lot of politics but put enough people together, then this seems a likely eventuality.
Then, aged nineteen, I started to dress like a goth when I was going out. This was more an indulgence than a phase as I didn’t especially listen to the music. Mostly I was a very substandard goth but I definitely looked the part. I liked the idea of fancy costumes in the trademark colour. Weekends would involve me going up to London, wearing heavy lacy skirts, bodices, boots, long gloves and a feather boa (not a cheap skinny one, a truly magnificent one that I lent to a friend and it was never returned. I need to replace this, it was awesome!) and a little bit of makeup. I would wander about museums and galleries and eat in new places and try new foods (still love gnocchi) and watch some amazing bands. I would then get the train home and get in my comfies.
The next phase wasn’t for me but my daughter. I have stitched angel and shepherd costumes, made a Christmas tree and a parrot. I have recreated Hogwarts, Charlie’s Chocolate Factory and Alice’s Wonderland. I find it immensely satisfying to decide on an idea and watch it bloom into existence. In recent times I have made myself a Deatheater’s Halloween costume and dressed up in Dickensian garb for a local festival. But now my attire is much less adventurous.
I have always been curious about how a costume changes me. Putting on new clothes, special clothes or comfy old ones gives me such different sorts of energy. It has been something that I am working on using more to my benefit, but sometimes when social conformity is expected, my yellow knee high socks with big black cats on, compel me.
Map Point. What is my favourite outfit?