31 October 2008

Today is your day, dress for it!

It’s finally here, the second most commercial holiday of the year, which also happens to be one of my favorites. The commercialism is frustrating, the chocolate is tempting, and the costumes are exhilarating. I love seeing the thought process with which our children choose them, I love to help make them and of course, I love to wear them. Each year a part of my wardrobe which spends 364 days of the year in a box in the attic takes a trip down the runways of our neighborhood sidewalks for that annual trick or treat fashion show.

It’s the thrill of the unknown. The surprise of, “who’s behind that mask?” and “what shall I be today?” One of my earliest and possibly best costumes wouldn’t have been possible without my very dear, old friend Jimmy Joe. Together we dressed as a horse. An old brown wool blanket with a few strategic stitches, a splayed rope tail, recycled leather pieces tied on our shoes, a yarn mane and perhaps the most amusingly comical mask ever found, completed our getup. Oh, and the defining element in our transformation from two kindergarteners to one silly horse -- Jimmy Joe’s ability to walk the parade route hinged at the waist. Yes, he bent forward and held around my waist creating a strong back and four fine legs of equine magnificence.

We have a closet under a staircase outfitted with a light, a mirror, plenty of hooks for hanging and baskets for stashing. It is our kids’ dress-up closet. At ages 2 and 6, they can create their own characters on any given day. Perhaps today they’ll be a fairy and a knight, a pirate and a princess, two fellow firefighters ... or something that I can’t quite figure out. They dress in old pillow cases with dish towels tied on their heads, paper crowns and feather boas. Sometimes I’m envious. Sometimes my daughter wants a “fancy dinner” which has nothing to do with food but must take place in the dining room with each of us wearing a fancy dress. I don’t do it often, but I still like to dress up.

My husband and I went to a wedding on the Jersey shore in August. I put a lot of thought into what I was wearing. Settled on a vintage Hawaiian black halter neck dress with a copper, gray and white graphic design on the floor-length skirt. I could have searched for 30 years and wouldn’t have found anything better than that dress that hung in my Aunt Fifi’s closet 30 some years ago. Aunt Fifi was quite the fashionista back in the days of what I consider the most fun fashion. Her attic has been a treasure trove of everything from poodle skirts to mini dresses and maxi skirts. My own dress-up closet, all grown up.

So on this All Hallows Eve, delve into your attic, break into the boxes and don the duds which reveal an otherwise unknown take on who you are, anyone you want to be. Because after all, it is only one day. Happy Halloween.

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