School Dress-Up Days: Why am I being tortured like this?


DIY: “Poodle Skirt”

What’s up with all these themed “dress-up” days at school?  And not just for high school, but even the pre-K kids are in on the act now. I don’t remember ever doing this as a child. I think we got to wear a Halloween costume to school up until about the third grade, but that was it.

Now, schools have whole traditions wrapped around this nonsense. There is the first 50 days of school, where you’re going to need to find a poodle skirt. As a matter of fact, I recommend after Halloween this year, mothers of young girls just go ahead and buy 50% off poodle skirts in several sizes. There will be lots of 50’s dress-up days in your future. Trust me on this.

Some schools have little kids dress up like old people on the 100th day of school. One hundred year old people on the 100th day of school, get it? So start that thrift store shopping now for wide ties, long aprons, and short canes. The 1960’s is another popular theme for a dress-up day, so if you find a paisley shirt or tie while you’re digging through piles of smelly old clothes, head first in a moth-eaten box in the back of a dingy charity shop, go ahead and get that too.

I’ve had the opportunity to try to put together economical costumes for “Dress Like Your Favorite Movie or Book Character Day,” – we went with Hermione – “Dress Like Your Favorite Celebrity Day,” – you guessed it, we went with Emma Watson – and “Dress Like Your Favorite Superhero Day,” – not easy for a girl, but we settled on Black Widow as inspired by Scarlett Johansson, which was a pretty easy one actually.

At some point in your child’s school life, you will need a wacky tie, a silly hat, cowboy/girl attire, pirate gear, a Hawaiian shirt, a toga, colorful mismatched socks, pajamas suitable to wear in public, and an ugly Christmas sweater.

It is just never-ending. And when you add the stress of “dress-up” days, particularly for a child with an “artistic vision” on her look, to an already crowded docket of parental chores – daily lunches and snacks, clean school clothes and shoes that fit, homework, forms-to-sign, usually with checks-to-be- written attached, bake sales, Fall Festivals, fundraising, school plays, and the dreaded “ school projects” to be done – it is enough to make a person scream.

Homecoming Week is particularly brutal because you are required to handle up to five different themes in a single week. And you get maybe a week’s notice if you’re lucky, so it’s not like you can start planning over the summer, which is how much time you need to remain sane. And Homecoming has the distinct disadvantage of being within mere weeks of Halloween, and don’t get me started on that nightmare.

Never once have I had a Homecoming Week theme match up with that year’s Halloween challenge so that I could kill two birds with one stone. Fate is never that kind. So, while I am sewing on Poodle appliques – that were supposed to be iron-on, by the way, and making a toga from a discount store bed sheet, I am simultaneously trying to create Elsa or Katniss.

I give you this advice for free, you can thank me later: never, and I mean never, purchase something that cannot be returned thinking that it “will work.” It will not work. Ever. You will have to go buy another thing that is so similar as to be indistinguishable to you, but means the difference between social success and catastrophic doom to your tween. I mean, what kind of mother would suggest that her daughter wear a black leather jacket as Katniss, when it is supposed to be brown?

Sigh. Now, I am off to try to work some magic with felt. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Cheaper Than Therapy is a blog and live storytelling show in Montgomery, AL. FOLLOW the blog, LIKE the show on FB, FOLLOW me on Twitter @ReneaDijab or come check out the show!


5 responses to “School Dress-Up Days: Why am I being tortured like this?

  1. Nothing showed up except subject

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Ha! It’s about time someone went on a rant about this! I admit, I kind of ignore them, except pajama day, because, pajamas! LOL.

  3. Oh no! My oldest just started kindergarten this year, so I have to look forward to this too?!?! I only remember dressing up for Halloween in elementary school, and didn’t have any “spirit” weeks until middle/high school. Ugh. I’m terrible at making stuff, so I better get clearance shopping after Halloween.

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