Monday, 14 September 2009


Mrs Troy and I are both not happy. Troy Junior's school have a 'policy' of having dress up days where they ask all the children in a particular year group to go to school dressed in a character costume. For Troy Junior's year group, last year it was as a superhero, this year it is as a character from a Roald Dahl book.

The problem is that neither Mrs Troy nor I have any skills at costume making. We are not being modest, our skill levels really are negligible. I'm the one who walks to school with Troy Junior and last year I told Mrs Troy point blank that I would not take him dressed in his school uniform when (virtually) all the other children would be in costume. We did finally send him to school wearing a Spiderman T-shirt but I must confess that my heart went out to him as the other children turned up in costumes that would have made Superman's girlfriend or Batman's butler do a double take before realising it was actually just a child dressed up rather than being the real superhero.

Some of the costumes were homemade but with obviously a great variety of materials purchased and then painstakingly made up. Other parents had obviously hired costumes from fancy dress shops. A couple of parents told me that they had paid £18-£20 to hire a costume for their child. They resented the fact that they had felt obliged to fork out this money but they didn't want their child to be the odd one out with no costume on the day.

So I'm wondering if Troy Junior's Primary School is the exception or the rule when it comes to these dress up days? If you have, or have had, children of school age have you experienced these school dress up days? Have you hired, at considerable expense, a costume for your child or have you taken the time to make a really good outfit from scratch? Do you approve of these school dress up days where parents have the pressure of hiring/making costumes for their children?

We are in a quandary. We really don't want our young child to suffer the trauma of being the only one in his year group not to have a Roald Dahl character costume on the day. However we feel it is wrong that parents are pressured into hiring expensive fancy dress costumes if they don't have the dress-making skills to improvise from scratch.

I'm really keen to hear other people's thoughts on this matter. (And, if you have any ideas how to meet the "dress as a character from a Roald Dahl book" easily and simply please, PLEASE, let us know!).


Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh, my oh my. This is my idea of Pure Hell. Poor Troy Junior, and poor you and Mrs Troy. I suggest a dentist trip that day? A sudden mysterious illness that only a day at home can cure? Relations arriving from Australia for one day only?
Will ask my children. We will come up with a stunning idea that requires No Money, No Time and No Stress. How about that?
We'll get back to you. Oh, and when is this Day From Hell?

Troy said...

It is Friday 25th. Eagerly awaiting your great ideas (no pressure!).

DJ Kirkby said...

Oh dear. N3S's school doesn't do this and N3S would refuse to go out fo uniform anyway. He still doesn't dress up for Halloween. I think you should spend the money on a costume IF that is what Troy Junior wants. he is an extremly bright boy, he'll know what he wants to do.

Catharine Withenay said...

Costumes: the bane of parents' lives. Always have to be prepared at (seemingly) the last minute and, unless you are lucky and Aunty Myrtle bought your son a cowboy outfit as a Christmas present last year, a nightmare to produce.

This week I gave in and bought a Scooby Doo outfit - son has to be a cartoon character at cub camp this weekend. (Still, husband has to be an Alien, or Sci-Fi character, and that has still to be sorted!) Hated spending the money, but don't have the wherewithall to magic up costumes from nothing!

As for Roald Dahl ... Danny, the champion of the world? He was a fairly ordinary boy, from memory. Or George, from George's Marvellous Medicine? Just dress up as a boy (!) and take in a large bowl of 'medicine' - it may be a way to see off the teacher too...!!!

Troy said...

DJ - interesting that your son's school doesn't do this. We can, and no doubt will, hire a costume but I suspect there are many parents that also do this who can less afford the expense but feel there is no viable alternative.

Catharine - appreciate your suggestions for characters and have passed them on to Mrs Troy. I'm relieved, reading your comment and the other ones so far, that there seems to be a common consensus that this is not a good thing and is a cause of angst to parents.

bantambabe said...

Nightmare! Once had to hire a nativity costume for our son because we had no "spare fabric about the house" as the school assumed, and no sewing skills at all which the school, for some reason, thought we would! I think if they are introducing "dressing up", the least they could do is provide some costumes, or teach the kids to make them at school! Be guided by what Troy Junior wants to do, and hire if necessary!

Oznaomi said...

I have three costumes to sort for RD Day tomorrow. Charlie (Reg. clothes + choc bar and golden ticket), Sophie (Nightgown and hat, glasses), and BFG (Vest, too short trousers, big ears, and a blonde doll in his pocket). Eldest daughter needs to MAKE (never mind that I borrowed one) a Nepalese costume for Friday. It is completely insane.

Troy said...

bantambabe - interesting observations. Hiring is proving far from easy - plenty of costumes for hire but none are Roald Dahl themed so far!

oznaomi - welcome! The Charlie costume sounds good but I suspect Troy Junior would eat the chocolate bar before reaching the school gates. Then having just a golden ticket in his hand won't win any plaudits.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I was always hopeless at the dressing up days for my children. Thankfully neither of them were madly keen either. S once went as a hangman when it was Victorian Day, and merely wore black trousers, black hoodie and carried a plastic axe!

Valerie said...

I have seen children dressed up lately and wondered what they were doing. A dress up day is not my idea of education. However, it's a shame if Troy Junior has to be the odd one out. How about the sandwich board idea with pictures? I used to hate the extravagant school outings and holidays abroad, I was hard up, a single Mum, and simply couldn't afford it. Schools should rethink what they're there to do and not put pressure on parents.

HelenMWalters said...

I'd be traumatised if I was expected to do anything like this. Could he go as a peach?

Troy said...

Debs - that's trhe sort of spirit of effort I admire in these situations.

Valerie - sage words indeed.

Helen - "traumatised" is a good description. Mrs Troy thought of a peach but I think it is easier said than done.

Anonymous said...

That's ridiculous. If enough parents at the school object to these extravagant dressing up days then they should all get together and make their objections clear to the school. Some people can't afford to spend money on dressing up clothes, and if they have more than one child at the school then it gets pretty damn expensive.

Amy's had a few dressing up days but just costumes that I've been able to knock together with bits of material and a very shaky needle and cotton. But spending money on it is really out of order in my opinion.

Looking forward to hearing how it goes.
CJ xx

Troy said...

CJ - I do wonder if some parents actually enjoy making the costumes or seeing their child go in a really good costume even if its been hired. However I'm most encouraged that all the comments I've received on this posting seem to all point in one direction of thought. Now I need to decide how to progress this further with the school. I think they should canvas parents' opinion to see if local opinion reflects the wider views expressed on these blog comments.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Sorry that I've come to this one late...Troy - what happened in the end?'s annoying about having to do it. If the school insists on doing it...then sorting through the characters and going for the easiest - would be my option.

If lots of schools are doing this...sounds like a great business rustle up costumes for beleaguered parents. :)

Troy said...

Hadriana - I'll write a postscript tomorrow as its 23.41 now and I'm too tired to concentrate. Thanks for calling by and prompting an update.

Fancy Dress Ideas said...

£18-20 is a ridiculous amount to HIRE a kid's costume! We SELL them at around only £10!

I think it's one of those things, like non-uniform days, that can sometimes create problems for those who can't (or simply don't want to) splash out on an expensive costume. I'd suggest either making your own, simple costume, where you only have to buy maybe one or two accessories, and the rest can me put together from normal clothes.

How often do schools do this, once every year??