Monday, 30 May 2011

Fancy...

We took the kids to a local carnival and funfair yesterday, and between watching the local cheer-leading squad and being deafened by the boys clanging the bell on the train ride, I sneaked off and looked at some of the bric-a-brac stalls. All I picked up was a book for 20p, but it's a good one - Fancy Dress for Children by the marvellously named Barbara Snook. 

Ms Snook is full of ideas for all kinds of outfits, but the whole book is basically sketches. There's the odd pointer as to materials, but no detailed instructions. For example, the Demon King's crown is captioned 'Black with red jewels, fruit gums on fine wire'. Or you could send your child off to the party dressed as a crab - only gardening gloves, tights and ping-pong balls stand between her and that first place rosette.

Costume designers on Doctor Who started here

There are lot of costumes based on slightly dubious cultural stereotypes - Sheiks, Rajahs and Gypsies abound, and basis of their apparel is apparently night attire. We are told sternly that the pyjama coat and trousers of a Mexican should NOT match, a blue coat and apricot pants are often worn together. And I imagine that only in 1969 would a book suggest that a child go to a party dressed as a cigarette!

I particularly love the hairdressing hint 

Where this book excels though, is in the unexpected costume. We've all seen a toddler look adorable as a ladybird or bee, but when you get that letter home from Nursery explaining that Ruby is to be a limpet in the Nautical Nativity, where do you turn? Why, page 89 of course!

Poor big sister seaweed looks rather sulky.
That would have been me.

Cute as a butterfly bum is, don't forget the tights.

How about a Belisha Beacon* costume for a tall skinny child? Or a Saucepan, on the Boil, made from corrugated cardboard, with cotton wool spilling out from the top. Snook helpfully suggests that 'This can be worn by a very plump child'. 

Eley Kishimoto S/S 2011


In the introduction, we're told that 'the essence of a successful fancy dress is in its immediate identification. It may be witty, even topical, but never obscure'. Hmm. There's nothing esoteric about a child sprouting footware from every limb. I'm sure we could all immediately identify him as a nationwide chain of chemists...


And what about the child wearing a top-hat and tails, carrying crampons and an ice-pick? Why of course! A Social Climber! I can also just picture the 6 year old Chaucer fan begging to go as the Wife of Bath, as opposed to a Princess. Who wouldn't want a necklace of bath-salts and pumice stone?


I leave you with my absolute favourite though - the Bird Table! Put aside the horror with which a small child wearing peanuts would be greeted at most school events - and consider the craft implications. 'The success of this SIMPLE costume depends on the care taken to model each bird accurately'. Yeah, cos constructing a lifelike goldfinch, blue-tit and sparrow from papier-mâché and feathers needs no tutorial...



Sigh. Another parenting fail.
Lakota x



* A flashing light on a pole, to indicate a street crossing

Linking up to Flea Market Finds

47 comments:

  1. This book is total, unintentional, comedy gold! You so need to post more extracts! I'm fairly partial to the 'Boots Branches' idea and the 'Limpet' - because who hasn't been stumped for ideas when dressing their child as seafood?!

    Jem xXx

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  2. Yes, I too thought the Seaweed Girl looks particularly hacked-off! Did you notice the stern way Ms Snook tells us 'Shoes will not do in place of boots!' for the Boots Branches costume. Makes me feel quite chastised and I'm not even in the market for fancy dress lol!

    K xx

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  3. .... :-\ hmmmmm..... I'm at a lost for words. The author/illustrator most definitely was listening to The Beatles a bit too much. I would say watching Pink Floyd's The Wall, but that was before the time.

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  4. Amazing. Imagine some of the complexes the children who wore these ended up developing! Just one question - there are smoking themed costumes, why not drugs or alcohol? A little girl dressed as a valium, maybe.

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  5. hilarious. i can't decide which is my favorite. i like that she lets you know that you cannot substitute shoes for boots.

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  6. What a tremendous book - I love the expression on the face of the poor child dressed as seaweed! xxx

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  7. Splendid ideas - if only I had a child to try them out on! Esp. love the idea of sending a child out dressed as a cigarette - that's totally acceptable!

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  8. "Boots branches"! Comedy Gold! I'm guffawing over my cereal reading your post. Priceless!

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  9. Hahah! If I were a seaweed, I suppose I would be sulky too. Hilarious!

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  10. oh I can't stop laughing long enough to type! I like the Crab, "or omit legs and change edge to go as an oyster", great so what do you do with the kid's legs????

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  12. oOPS...BIG slip of the subconcious silly side of the mind!

    Anyways, what I wanted to say:
    Why Lyndel, it's very clear: you omit them!
    HAHAHA. that last costume, the bird table, is, is, is...I can't find a word for it! My kids are grown now, but I don't think they would've been caught dead in that thing!!! HAHAHAHA

    Great, just great reading for a Monday morning!!! Thanks Lakota!!!

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  13. Love it! The cigarette outfit is a classic - although hippie parents could adapt it into a spliff. The bird table looks like some obscure form of medieval torture - just substitute rats. As for the crab outfit it looks like its come out of an early Dr Who episode.

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  14. What a gem! The captions are a laugh :)

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  15. How brilliant! Boot's Branches....how bloody funny is that? Can you imagine that at a primary school fete theses days...? I like Limpet...I'm pretty sure that's a fashionable name right now anyway, and Seaweed looks as if she'll deck someone at any moment. Love it.
    xxx

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  16. I love it!! Now my Ruby could dress as a limpet, and her cousin could go as fag ash Lil.

    What a fantastic book, hours of hysterics!

    Think this even beats my mum's favourite book find - 101 things to do with a gourd.

    @missielizzieb (sorry, Blogger still won't let me comment as me!)

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  17. I love the crab can you imagine, small children running around at a party as these. I see chaos ensuing, as frightened children leap for safety.
    Gret book and as you say some good ideas.

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  18. Ha ha ha, that it brilliant! I had been deliberating shorting my little worn black and white striped maxi dress but now I have seen the error of my ways - Belisha Beacon all the way

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  19. That book is hilarious! Forget the kids, I want to make some of those outfits for myself! I don't think I'll ever look at a woman in black and white stripes ever again without thinking of a belisha beacon. xxx

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  20. So that's where my infant school came up with the idea ! I WAS a piece of seaweed in a school play about Jonah and the Whale ! It could have been worse, some of the boys in my class were the ribs of the whale ! Fab post as always. LOVE IT xx

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  21. BAHAHAHA!! My god i would have loved to have found this book, its a real corker! Although Im sure some of the mums ive just seen at the bootsale wouldnt think twice about dressing their child up as a cigarette!

    I could also see the health and safety nursery member looking in horror if I sent finley in with a frame covered in fabric around his neck! lol. I think this may be the best book ever! Scarlett x

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  22. Best book ever. That is all.

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  23. gee. i can't stop laughing.
    actually, i needed a laugh!
    cheers, love.
    n♥

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  24. That's just briliant! The above comments have said all I wanted to, but I'll just add that I love your captioning of Belisha Beacon as Eley Kishimoto S/S 2011, hehe x

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  25. wow that is fab! you never see costumes like that today :)

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  26. Oh I haven't laughed so hard in ages. The one that cracks me up the most is the bird table! Thanks so much for sharing :) x

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  27. A book you COULD NOT pass up.
    Laughter to tears.

    I am betting you have a first (and only?) edition.

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  28. Twenty pence very well spent! When my children were small we had the Jane Asher book. I never made any of the costumes though - I wish I’d kept it as some of the stars she persuaded to model for the book are probably deeply embarrassed now. I love the idea of a Nautical Nativity :)

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  29. Haha, love it! Can you imagine the reaction you'd get these days sending your child to a party dressed as a ciggie?! I will keep 'the limpet' in mind for my toddler :)

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  30. That book is hilarious, limpet and seaweed girls have got a right mard on, don't blame them though! x

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  31. what a lovely book, the knight of the bath is too cute and funny.

    love~mongs
    mythriftycloset.blogspot.com

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  32. Flippin' hilarious - especially the child dressed as a cigarette!! So not PC these days. Although as a child in the 1960s I had a Thunderbirds Lady Penelope doll that had a plastic cigarette welded between two fingers - what a wonderful example for a child to emulate.

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  33. That's the craziest thing I've ever seen (in a good way!)

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  34. As the book is from 1969 I think some illegal substance had been inhaled by the writer, it's my only explanation.

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  35. Can you imagine the 'ealth and safety' bods with this one!
    Fantastic, had me chuckling!

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  36. How delightfully droll!

    I'm not sure how you can get more obscure than Boot's Branches or a Limpet though!

    What a gem :)

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  37. Lakota!

    Please see ebay, every bargain hunters bestest friend...

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Shatterproof-Mirror-180mm-X-90mm-Horse-/250416569203?pt=UK_Home_Garden_Mirrors&hash=item3a4dfd9b73#ht_1787wt_932

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  38. mwuahahahahahaha what a funny book!!! the sketches are great and funny, the words are sooo hillarious! love the "try to persuade hair to stay up like a wisp of smoke" hahaha i agree that the big sis seaweed looks rather sulky but i dont think it's you, lakota! hehehe funny though!! xx Susan

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  39. Fascinating book, a real one off.

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  40. Hahaha...Brilliant! Imagine the other Mums faces if we sent our kid to school dressed as a cigerette! Lol!

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  41. Whoa! I can't stop laughing about this post! Especially the lit cigarette! That book is comedy gold!

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  42. Amazing fancy dress ideas! Looking forward to the swap x

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  43. Oh the Limpet really made me laugh, imagine the horror of getting that costume LOL!

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  44. hahayy, I need this book for future kids,lol

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  45. Belisha beacons and pans boiling over? Genius. I know someone who would absolutely love this. I must try and buy a copy xx

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