To dress up is to put on a new persona, look, or role. Writers considered the myriad of ways we dress up at any age.
Writers responded to the prompt, and what follows is a collection of perspectives in 99-word stories arranged like literary anthropology.
Those published at Carrot Ranch are The Congress of Rough Writers.
Caught by Joanne Fisher
Thinking he was alone, Kyle dressed up in his sister’s clothes. Looking in the mirror, he wondered if he was really a girl. Just then Hannah unexpectedly walked through the doorway.
“What are you doing in my room freak?” she asked. In a panic he ran to his own bedroom. A short time later Hannah knocked on his door. “Can I have my dress back? That one doesn’t fit you anyway. Here are some of my older ones that would be more your size. Just don’t go in my room again.”
She left Kyle a box full of clothes.
Glamour Girl by Anne Goodwin
“Trust me,” said Geraldine, as we un-noosed our school ties in the station toilets, “Trust me,” as we tottered to the train in miniskirts and high heels. When I blinked, mascara clogged my eyelashes. My waxy lips left prints on the bottle, as I swigged lemonade.
We’d dressed up as kids, for watered-down Shakespeare. I’d scoured my sister’s wardrobe behind a locked bedroom door. But this was serious. Public. If my dad got wind of it, I was dead.
For one weekend, I’d play glamour girl. Later, when my mother found the tell-tale Polaroids, I faced the consequences alone.
Mirror of Hope by Hugh W. Roberts
Despite the bruises, Andrew admired himself in the mirror. A princess looked back at him.
“Don’t forget your shoes.”
The red high heeled shoes, although too big, complemented his mother’s burgundy dress he had on.
“You’re pretty,” remarked the princess.
The faint noise of his father’s car’s unexpected arrival caused panic in Andrew and the princess.
“Hide behind me,” yelled the princess, “before he beats you again.”
Crouching behind the mirror, he tried making himself invisible.
As the smell of alcohol and the unbuckling of his father’s belt reached him, tears made their escape down the young boy’s face.
When I Grow Up by Goldie
It was the night before Halloween when Stephanie realized Tommy needed a costume for school the next day.
“We need to create a costume. What do you want to be?” she asked, frantically rummaging through her arts and crafts bin.
“I want to be like Daddy!” Tommy buzzed excitedly.
Steve grinned with pride. Being a police officer had been a family tradition for generations.
Tommy disappeared from the kitchen to return wearing a black ski mask.
Stephanie and Steve froze, mortified.
“I saw you last night wearing this, telling Mom how much fun you had. I like having fun!”
Here Comes Gingie by Bill Engleson
This kid, Gingie Rawlins, is a friggin’ showboat.
Don’t know how he does it.
I go outta the house with mismatched socks the old lady hauls me back in, waves her fat finger up my nose, points the way to my sock drawer.
Gingie’s folks seem normal. His old man’s usually suited up.
Even in the house, eh!
His mom wears puffy dresses, June Cleaver like.
Gingie however usually shows up at the paper shack in some god-awful mismatch…like, tights and shorts.
Even wore ginch over his pants last week.
This goofball’s from Mars if you ask me.
Makeover by Heather Gonzalez
Dorothy gave her sister a cup of hot tea that afternoon. Rose sipped the tea and complained about the weather. Suddenly, Rose got very silent. Dorothy knew it was the perfect time to give her sister a much needed makeover.
Being very gentle, she adjusted the dress she had picked out for her. She even remembered the matching hat and shoes. Applying makeup was a little harder since Dorothy’s hands had gotten shaky with age. After one last coat of lipstick was applied, Dorothy stepped back to marvel at her work. Too bad, Rose wasn’t alive to see it.
Defending the Frontier by R. V. Mitchell
Captain Ezekiel Talbert mustered his men outside the bastion of Fort Frederick. A war party of French aligned Shawnees had been spied near the Potomac and he and his detachment of the Maryland Forces were going to intercept them before they could get up to any mischief.
His trusty band of volunteers were going to more than enough to deal with the Shawnee threat, after all they were well equipped with the latest Brown Bess muskets from Japan, and most understood the rudiments of Bland’s Manual. Now all he needed was for his sergeant to finish his phone call.
Dressing Up by Joanne Fisher
As the sun set, they rose out of their coffins in the crypt.
“Shall we hope someone walks through the graveyard tonight? Or shall we get dressed up and go into town?” asked Samantha.
“Yes let’s go into town!” Katherine replied.
They dressed up in their finest gowns and coats, then headed off. When they got to town they were surprised by the sheer number of people there.
“Are you going to choose one?” Samantha asked after a while.
“There’s just too many of them! I can’t decide!” Katherine replied. Samantha rolled her eyes. Why did this always happen?
Phasing by Rebecca Glaessner
Tahvket donned the cloth to be worn to Center. House-family fitting it while praying for energies to take and seeds yet unformed.
Elders braided Tahv’s endless white hair.
Hair to be shaved if one’s seed fails. If one doesn’t Phase at all.
Shaved to free the energies within.
As few seeds take form and even fewer are granted life. Energies are never spared.
Would Tahv’s fail? At nearly twenty-two cycles, hope of Phasing had waned.
Yet here Tahv stood, before Center, heart pounding, hands rippling over smooth, now-fitted cloth, the outfit offering all the strength Tahv needs.
World Book Drag by Ritu Bhathal
“But I don’t wanna!”
Little feed stomp, but I’ll be damned if my hard work won’t be worn today.
World Book Day.
The bane of every parent’s life.
I’ve been planning this costume since last year, after seeing the spectacular costume Jenny Harris-Smythe’s mother made for her daughter last year.
She was dining off her win for months!
So, I’m sorry, but today you WILL be wearing this, because I say so.
I don’t care if you think you look silly, and no, you can’t be Captain America! Ready-made costumes. Pah!
The prize will be mine!
Sorry, yes, yours…
Dress Up by Anita Dawes
I never had the opportunity to dress up as a child
It never entered my head
I was far too busy, swimming, skating
Riding any bike I could borrow
I had a cut-out book
Where I dressed a paper doll with different clothes
This, however, wore off too quick
I wonder now if it might have been
The lack of imagination, or up bringing
Parents need to understand a child
As my granddaughter does with
my little great grand daughter
I love to watch her run around
In nothing but her hat and wellies
Or her father’s big boots…
A Relentless Quest by Donna Matthews
I’m surprised to find my daughter lying spread eagle on the floor.
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“Yes…no…maybe, in a minute.”
Hesitating a hair of a moment, I lay down next to her.
She doesn’t move away.
Lying on my side, I study her profile and realize she’s pierced her nose. Should I say something? Let it go? Her willingness to try on different personalities is something I admire in her. Her relentless quest to find which fits her best.
“Yeah. I’m thinking about who I want to be. I just can’t see it yet.”
Setting the Wedding Date by Sue Spitulnik
On a hot summer day at Tessa’s parents when the combined family Thanksgiving was mentioned, Michael and Tessa gave each other a knowing look as if they were blushing but weren’t. Michael cleared his throat to garner attention. “Would there be any objections if we invited friends also and asked everyone to get dressed up?”
He got a lot of ‘what do you mean’ stares.
“Tessa and I were thinking the occasion would be ideal for our wedding.”
The answer came in a cacophony of positive sounds and exclamations. Satisfied, they left to recreate the scene at Michael’s parents.
I Do by Annette Rochelle Aben
Weddings are generally fancy-dress occasions. Even the venues are decorated beautifully with that which symbolizes the excitement of the happy couple.
Her mother’s home was no exception as there were flowers in every room. From the massive spray of gladiolas on the piano to the dozens of carnations in the family room. So pretty!
The bride sat crossed-legged on the kitchen counter in jeans, a tee-shirt and bare feet. Caught up in the beauty around her, she bolted when the Minister inquired if she had a pretty dress to wear since the ceremony was to begin in five minutes.
Wedding Trappings by Kerry E.B. Black
This wouldn’t be the wedding of her dreams. Finances had seen to that.
However, it wasn’t about the trappings, or so she kept telling herself.
She smoothed the front of the gown. It registered more as the ivory of aged teeth rather than the dazzling white of a Hollywood smile, but it was an antique. Something old. A relic from Gram’s wedding. She spritzed the high collar with perfume to overpower the lingering mustiness the cleaners couldn’t remove. No fairy-godmother’s transformation for her.
When she saw her groom’s appreciative smile, however, she knew. Their wedding wasn’t about the trappings.
As”mo”mi Returns by Kavita Deo Miracle Moments
Asmi, a new mom, stood in front of the mirror and took a good look at herself. The pregnancy glow was replaced by stress of being a new mom. She sighed, “I need to look and feel like my old self”. She opened her wardrobe and then took out a kaftan. A glamorous yellow kaftan in chiffon with beautiful grey motifs printed on it. She put it on, wore her favourite bead necklace and dabbed make up . Then she sprayed her favourite Chanel perfume. She wore heels, took a selfie in mirror, posted on Instagram As”mo”mi returns.
Warm Welcome by Liz Husebye Hartmann
Olivia was new to this climate, and new to the area. Naturally shy, she was unsure how to dress herself properly, so she’d gotten up the gumption to visit Lena’s Outdoor Outlet for help.
Lena was a peach, listened carefully, looked her over good, and smiled. This girl obviously needed a friend; Lena could use any and all sales. The sense of mutual balance pleased both.
At the Pumpkin Moon Fest, Olivia blushed and shivered, despite her layers. How could others be fine in thin flannel and cargos?
Lena waved her over and whispered, “Don’t worry. Just be comfortable!”
Gifts from the Heart by Saifun Hassam
Down by the pines, the bird feeding station was busy with cardinals, bluejays, and sparrows. Straight after breakfast, Farah’s mom helped her to dress: boots, jacket.
Her birthday scarf embroidered with bluebirds.
The young artist’s drawing notebook was already filled with doodles of birds and flowers. Her imagination was fired up from Grandma’s surprise birthday gift: a CD all about drawing and painting birds and flowers.
Drawing a real cardinal was pretty tough. Suddenly from a nearby birch tree, a bird called out. Grandma was right. An entire world was out there waiting to be explored. Artist and explorer.
Mother of Assumptions by Ruchira Khanna
We, individuals, love to dress up our minds with assumptions.
An assumption is a state of mind where an individual can draw a very colorful or an ugly picture.
Isn’t it amazing how an individual builds his castle over his assumption?
A classic example is how an individual presents himself, his dressing mannerisms, or his public behavior. They are all human-made assumptions.
This boils down to being aware of what we think, which eventually becomes our assumptions.
If the assumption is the mother of all disasters, bring in the father who has a clear vision and channel the thoughts.
Lights, Camera Etc. by kathy70
Saturday night and the theater lobby lights sparkle on the sequins as we walk around. We are in our suburban neighborhood and no paparazzi are stalking us for photos. It is opening night. Who’s idea was it to make this a fancy dress event? It seems pretty silly all these years later. Yet, the photo of us from that evening is one of my most treasured items. Who would imagine that adults would play dress up for all the world to see on such a “normal” day. Imagine we really were that young and playful only three + decades ago.
It’s a Compliment by Simon
Are you doing chores with an apron? Like a house wife? (Auntie chuckled)
I dote to Sprint like Dutee Chand
Fight like Greta Thunberg
Play like P.V.Sindhu
Fly like Gunjan Saxena
Ambulate like Anjali Lama
Drive like Veeralakshmi
Indite like Malini Agarwal
Do chores like my wife
Manage house like my Mom
Cook like my grandma
Doing anything like them is not a revilement, it’s a compliment.
You are withal a woman. Now tell me, are you complimenting me or vilifying me?
(Sa…Sa…SA..) Sam, I was complimenting you dear.
I deciphered it when you sa…sa…said… Auntie, Thank you (Attitude)
He Wished He Had … by Reena Saxena
He saw a huge crowd carrying similar placards, snaking its way through streets.
Is that Emily? Yes, she is leading the procession. But why?
Later in the evening ….
“You don’t qualify to be called domestic help.”
“Really? Who has been managing the house for 10 months now?”
The sarcasm froze him.
“But why should you be leading the pack? You don’t work for others.”
“I want house help to come back. I wish you’d helped with the chores….”
He seriously wished he had. It would’ve saved him embarrassment.
Doing Chores by Ann Edall-Robson
water holes to keep open.
Sleigh horses harnessed,
hay stacked high
frozen skis crunch snow.
Mercury slithers, creeping
down, frosted breath,
feeding rituals double.
These months called winter
without warning too often.
The temptation to stay
by the wood fire, warm,
nothing but a fleeting dream.
Every day a silent wish
tromps through the thoughts
yearning for winter to end.
A want for longer days
Chinook winds blow,
Spring and green grass
replaces manure laced mud
frozen days, gone.
To the ranchers feeding
cows and country
thank you for doing chores.
Riding the Zipline Down Under by Norah Colvin
Many hid behind Norah’s fear of heights, speed and enclosed spaces. “I’ll do anything Norah does,” they’d boast, feigning bravery. D. said she’d ride the zipline from its start, high up in the US, all the way Down Under, if Norah did.
Dressed for warmth and to prevent chafing, they adjusted their harnesses. “You first,” said D., still not believing Norah would do it.
“Whee! I’m flying; flying without wings,” sang Norah, zooming across the landscape.
“I’m dying,” screamed D., squeezing her eyes shut.
“We’re here,” said Norah. “Welcome to Australia.”
“That was amazing,” said D. “I did it!”
Double-hog Dare by D. Avery
“Kid? What’re ya doin’?”
“I kin see thet. But fer what?”
“Fer Aussie? Aussie favors the Michelin Man? An’ dang it, Kid, are those my pillows ya got duct-taped ta yersef?”
“Yers, mine, any I could git a hold of. Need paddin’.”
“Why’s thet Kid?”
“Wanna be prepared fer a crash landin’.”
“Crash landin’?! From what?”
“But ya cain’t stand heights Kid.”
“But Aussie double-dog-dared me.”
“Take good care a Curly fer me.”
“Oh, Curly an’ me, we’re comin’ ta watch.”
“She might git scared.”
“Does, she’ll squeal like a Kid.”
Dressed ta Swill by D. Avery
“Jeez. Kid, ya let thet critter snuggle in bed with ya, ya won’t git her ta stop.”
“So? She already weighs two stone.”
“Stone? Yer a week late Pal.”
“It’s a unit a measure. Ya seen my flannel nightshirt?”
“Heehee. Curly, yer eyelashes tickle. Flutterin’ butterfly lashes.”
“Butterflies? Thet’s so last week.”
“Last week… ‘member visitin’ Ernie… then comin’ back an’ piggin’ out afore a long nap.”
“T’weren’t pretty. Hey! Thet pig’s wearin’ my nightshirt!”
“Ya soun’ angry, Pal. Is’t ‘cause Curly looks better in it then you do?”
“Here ya go. Want some lipstick too?”