The column about fancy dress and dressing fancy.


Super-Spider Man

My three year old son is currently obsessed with dressing up. As a superhero. The dress-up basket I’ve been filling since before my kids were born is now heaving with fireman’s hats, pirate costumes and superhero capes in amongst the sequins, tulle and princess paraphenalia.

His current favourite outfit is a superman costume with a full-face spiderman mask and a bike helmet over the top. Worn with red ugg boots. This look was inspired by a book I bought featuring the Marvel comic villains and the whole superhero fixation ties in neatly with his other current hobby – weapons.

Every item in our house is routinely converted into an elaborate weapon of some kind – or a landscaping tool. He’s also fond of those. I’ve watched this phase develop over the past few months with a bemused expression on my face. I’m not big on violence or weapons so how did this happen exactly? You’d think I’d know a bit about kids now I’m onto my third but the only thing I know with complete certainty is this: older kids are no help in predicting how younger ones will turn out.

It’s a lucky dip. A surprise package. Pass the parcel. A pinata.

My son wants to wear his Super-Spiderman costume all day, hot weather be damned. He’s fully prepared to sacrifice personal comfort in the pursuit of justice and freedom from evil villains.

I know you’ll sleep better tonight knowing that.

Some days however, not even a hybrid superhero can save your arse. As I battled to get all three kids out the door one morning this week, things came unstuck.  Drink bottles were forgotten. Teeth went unbrushed. And I somehow ran out of time to change Super-Spiderman into his civilian clothing.

This was awkward because our preschool has a firm dress code: no costumes.  I used to think that was a bit miserable but I now see how difficult it would be to run an organised program of activities with little people tripping over Snow White dresses and whining about their itchy fairy skirts. Not to mention the OH&S issues around a Bob The Builder Tool Belt and a lightsaber. For these reasons, all the kids must wear casual, comfortable clothes so they can play easily and safely.

Unfortunately on this occasion, I had no time to explain to my three year old what OH&S stood for or why ugg boots were a bad idea on a 26 degree day.

Instead I chose to shout a bit more, make a few threats, issue some bribes, bundle everyone into the car in whatever state they were in and hope for the best. I’ll be honest; that’s how I roll even on a good day.


As soon as we arrived at kindy, a little girl in my son’s class took one look at Super-Spiderman, rolled her eyes and announced loudly to the teacher, “I hope he brought a change of clothes!”

Even at age three she knew the dresscode had been transgressed. I am confident she will one day be a prefect.

Mia in the blue "lolly wrapper" jacket from Sass & Bide

Happily, I did find a spare t-shirt in my superhero’s backpack and as I quickly tried to wrestle him out of his mask and cape, his wonderfully wry teacher, Robert took one look at my outift, raised his eyebrow and said archly “So. Tell me about your jacket.”

Yes. Well. Last weekend I’d done a quick binge shop and bought myself a bomber jacket made from something that looked a lot like blue foil. It was a spontaneous purchase as most of mine are when you have limited time and no inclination to apply the “Is-This-A-Classic-Item-I-Will-Wear-For-Years-Or-Will-It-Date-Faster-Than-Katy-Perry’s-Hair?” test.

I hate that test. It kills my shopping vibe. Or as my teenager says, “That’s more of a buzz kill than Buzz Killington”. Needless to say, any test applied to a jacket that makes me look like a blue Easter egg would be hard to pass.  So the irony of me lecturing a small person about why his clothes were inappropriate for kindy while dressed as a human easter egg was epic.

Evidently, my own dress code has come full circle from my magazine days, the first of my wardrobe’s four major phases. Most of the more ridiculous items in our dress-up basket – the stuff my daughter refuses to wear because it’s too OTT – used to be my work wardrobe when I was an editor. Sequins, there were many and yes, I wore them to work.

Phase two of my wardrobe was my wince-and-you’ll-miss-it collision with a job as a TV carpet stroller which was characterised by a mournful collection of drab black suits that depressed me even more than the job. Next, I embraced working from home when elastic waists were my friend, shoes were optional and a matching tracksuit was as dressy as it got.

Now that I’m back to working in an office, self-employed and in the online world, I’ve recently drifted back to fancy dress. I’ve even been reclaiming some of the items I’d donated to my daughter’s dress up basket. I figure it won’t be that long until the Easter egg jacket ends up in there but until that time, I will wear it in fancy dress solidarity with my mini superhero.

Does your wardrobe go through phases? Could some of your clothing choices classify as fancy dress?

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