Almost everyone has some sort of memory about dressing up as a kid. For many of us, it was just an occasional interest – one of many childhood games. On the other hand, for some people, playing dress up was a central part of childhood. I have a friend who used to go into her parents room pretty much every day, and try on anything that she could get a hold of. She grew up to be a fashion designer, just as everyone who knew her expected. Anyone that into child costumes was destined to either do fashion or theatre.
My parents were never that into buying child costumes for us, and my parents were both pretty protective of their clothes. As a result, we would have to make do with whatever we could find. A big source of supplies was my older sister. She had a lot of scarves, vests, belts, and other fun things you could wrap or tie around your body. We would also sometimes wear clothes backwards as a way to change our look. And of course, there was always the option of wrapping yourself up in a bed sheet when nothing else was available.
Still, my favourite child costumes were the special ones my parents would help us with. Pretty much every year, we would spend nearly a week making child Halloween costumes as a family. My mum knew how to sew very well, although she did not use the skill very often, and she always outdid herself in making the best child costume whenever we had a costume party to go to. She would also volunteer with the school drama program when we were in the play. I had the honour of going on stage in some of her very best child costumes.
Then again, sometimes it was a lot of fun to improvise. My folks did not like to see us playing war games, so if we wanted to play them we had to do it covertly. We would sneak outside with sashes tied around our waists as sword belts, then pick up sticks in the back yard to swing menacingly at dragons.
In some ways, these were the best child costumes of all, because they brought me together with my siblings. Sneaking around and trying not to get caught is always an exciting thing for a child to do. In retrospect, I think that our parents must have had some sort of idea what we were up to at the time, but they acted none the wiser. Maybe it was just nice for them to see how well we were getting along. Whatever it was, we sure had a lot of fun being cowboys, pirates, ninjas, and knights.