Of dressing up and dressing down

We’re a very casual household as far as dressing goes. I have a one or two corporate pieces in my wardrobe, relics of the time when a top with a collar seemed requisite for the Monday afternoon parliamentary meetings. The bloke’s not one for formality and as a musician, teacher, or lab tech it’s not really a job requirement. I rarely wear make up and find jeans or trousers the most comfortable garb to get around in.

So when I get dressed up it’s the cue for the rest of the family about the sartorial expectations of the event. A skirt or dress indicates something just a little fancy or grown up; a bit of make up with shirt and jeans indicates a more important kind of family gathering. A dress or skirt AND make up indicates to the bloke that he must wear suit and tie; for the kids, the only plausible explanation for this freakish display is that I am running away to join the circus.

This helps explain a couple of scenes from our recent domestic life.


Setting: Preparing for the soiree presented by the school’s instrumental program. The lad will perform a duet, on saxophone, with his friend Elizabeth. The lad’s mother is away in Perth. The dress code is ‘something nice’ rather than the usual band uniform.

The bloke: What do you think you’ll wear tonight?

The lad: Jeans and a t-shirt.

The bloke: Um, don’t you think it might be a good idea to wear a shirt or something? I’m sure Elizabeth will dress up a little bit.

The lad: Nah…she only wears jeans and shorts and stuff to school. She never wears dresses.

The bloke: Well, she might tonight because it’s a little bit important. She might want to get dressed up a bit because she doesn’t have to wear the uniform.

The lad: (furrowed brows) Why would she do that? Jeans and a t-shirt will be fine.

The bloke:  (sighs)

An hour later, at the soiree: the lad walks on stage, neat and casual in jeans and t-shirt. He is followed by Elizabeth, wearing a red, empire line dress with black boots.


A discussion of the lass’ Halloween costume which she will wear for her first ever trick or treat experience (for which we are in no way responsible). She has decided to be Hermione Granger and has pointed out the she has similar hair to Hermione. I have pointed out the she has a similar brain. The bloke has pointed out she has a similar personality. The bloke got kicked under the table.

The lass: I don’t think I’ll wear that thing she has. I think Harry and Ron wear it but not Hermione.

Me: The cloak?

The lass: No, not that (pauses and taps her upper chest). I’m not sure what it’s called but she doesn’t wear it.

Me: Oh, I think that they have pretty much the same school uniform.

The lass: (ignoring me, and still tapping her chest)…oh, it’s that thing that Dad wears around his neck sometimes for special occasions…

Me: Oh, a tie!

The lass: Is that what it’s called? I didn’t know the word for it.



1 Comment

  1. innercitygarden said,

    October 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Last time the Bloke here (Bloke 2.0?) wore a tie he was greeted with “what’s that?”

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