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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Dressing up for fun, fashion and frivolity

Nothing of great historical interest or seriousness from me this week, but my mother's old albums are the source of a few dress-up photographs that I've decided to include. First off are a couple of Mum and her siblings dressing up as young children. My grandmother Mona Morrison and her dressmaking sisters Bess and Flo no doubt enjoyed creating their sweet outfits. I don't know whether or not they were for any special event.

Pat was a fairy, Jean a strawberry and Ken was 'you know who'
A few years later, Pat was still a fairy, Ken a Native American (to put it in PC terms), Jean a beach girl and their mischievous-looking young brother Derek was an elf
This amusing snap is entitled 'Men's Bathing Beauty Competition', and was taken while Mum was working as a housemaid at a beach side resort in about 1942. There are surely several girls amongst the men however - if not, some of these fellows are doing excellent female impersonations!

This photograph  is entitled 'Fashion Cavalcade'  and the participants were attending a fancy dress ball in December 1950. My mother is third from left in front, holding some kind of muff, and is dressed according to her description as an early settler.  Everyone had clearly spared no expense to either make or hire their costumes. I can't see my father here, but maybe he took the photo - or perhaps he wasn't so perfectly attired for the occasion.

My mother clearly enjoyed dressing me up too, as shown in these snaps from our voyages to and from England in the early 1950s, and she won first prize for me in the girls' section on the trip over.the ship was the Rangitata, and I was dressed as the Rangitata Washerwoman.

The label on my costume

 On our way home to NZ aboard the Rangitiki a year later, I was a two year old Christmas Tree at the Children's Xmas Party on 24 December 1954. A little bit of my costume decoration still remains, pasted into Mum's trip scrapbook, complete with lolly wrappers. 

Despite, or perhaps as a result of, being made to take elocution lessons for quite a few years, I was never particularly keen on drama, and only vaguely remember being in the chorus of a rather forgettable performance of Bye Bye Birdie, which we did as a school musical  and of which only a couple of rather indistinct photographs remain in the school magazine. Not worth trying to reproduce them here!
 I was lucky enough to win a trip to Germany in 1969/70  and while there I got to visit  Cologne for the Karneval  celebrations that take place each  February. I remember the parade through the streets as absolutely magical and apparently never-ending, and was also amazed to see practically everyone else in the crowd also wearing fancy dress. Here are a few postcards I brought home, plus a photo with Ruth, the daughter of my host family in Solingen, before we set out on the train from Solingen to Cologne for a fun day out. 

Here are a couple of lolly wrappers from my own scrapbook, just to prove I was there - there were mad scrambles when barrel loads of sweets were thrown into the crowds from the passing floats. I haven't been back  to Germany at Karneval time since, but I believe it is still celebrated the same way.

Here I am with my 'host sister' Ruth, ready to catch the train from Solingen to Cologne, to join in the festivities. It's hard to believe we actually went out in public like this, but then, everyone was doing it, and as it was February I no doubt wore a coat to cover up, as well as for warmth.

 For some actual performances, here are a couple of snaps showing school musicals put on by our children's primary school. In 1995 they did 'The Sound of Music', and then the following year they produced a very different and entertaining musical entitled  'Phantom of the Rock Opera', economically using the same background set, but never mind, no one really noticed!

Sound of Music 1995, Montessori style

Phantom of the Rock Opera 1996, also set in Austria??

Finally, here are some shots I took around the same time of the musical 'Jesus Christ Superstar', in which our daughter performed as a dancer. At the time I was into black and white SLR photography and was quite pleased at how these turned out when I developed them in my makeshift darkroom at home. 

For more fun and frivolity, go to Sepia Saturday to see what others have produced on this light-hearted theme.


  1. That's an amazing collection. Looking back I can almost match you in some of the photos.! And you are very good to use the PC words.

  2. There is a great deal of fun to be had from dressing up and you have a wonderful collection of photos here. You look adorable in your washerwoman costume!

  3. Your mother looks beautiful in that dress (that must have been one wealthy early settler).

  4. You stirred a few memories for me Jo with these photos and cards. In particular I remember dressing up for Karneval when we were stationed in Germany in the 1980s. Your first two pictures of the children are lovely; I have photos of both my mother and my mother-in-law dressed as fairies.

  5. Great set of photos and I guess they bring back many happy memories.

  6. What a treasure trove of dress up photos! Lucky you to still have them.


  7. The Men's Bathing Beauty contest is hilarious. I love your little outfits for the children's teas. I remember being amazed at the Karneval celebrations too. Great post and photos.

  8. I especially like the postcard of the Karneval clowns. The only one of my childhood Halloween costumes that I can remember is a bright colored Clown costume.

  9. The Karneval parade looks like it was wonderfully entertaining, and I love the bathing beauty contest. Shades of the Gascapades! And I laughed at your comment on using the same backdrop for 2 rather divergent plays. We used to do that all the time - just tweaked things a little. Once we did a play taking place on a riverboat & had this marvelous scenery painted on a revolving apparatus to make it appear as though the riverboat was actually moving. It worked for a while. But after the same tree or rock formation or whatever went by for the 4th or 5th time the audience began to titter. Oh well.

  10. Oh goodness what fun, I was counting which photo, first and second, and the clowns to say are my favorite photos, but there were more besides them. Great gads what fun they all had.

  11. You as a Christmas tree won, hands down!