a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Mar, 2007

Going out, dressing up

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Easy ways to make kids happy|Ottawa

I don’t mean to go all hoity-hoity on you, but I like Things of Culture: film, art, music, literature, the theatre. It’s important to me that our kids become culturally well-rounded individuals. I don’t want to raise a couple of doobs who think Survivor is the best thing on television, that all movies should star Tim Allen, and classy music is what you hear at Disney on Ice.

We do what we can to encourage open-minded thinking (I’m remembering here the times I’ve tried explaining some of the abstract/contemporary art at the National Gallery), but also try to expose them to different sorts of things around town things that are, well, a little different.

That why I jumped at the opportunity to take them to a screening of the Wizard of Oz at the NAC.

Years ago, when I was still living at home, my parents attended a production of Aida at the Skydome in Toronto. Aida is an opera. Skydome is a venue for sports. As traditional theatre-goers they found themselves faced with a rather interesting dilemma. How should they dress for this event? Does one dress for the production (also, considering the time of day) or for the venue?

In my parents case, they dressed up. Nothing surprising there. These are people who dressed up to go to the mall, which, for my mom, meant a skirt, blouse, high heels and a matching ensemble of accessories.

Fast forward to last Saturday night. I wasn’t sure what to wear to the NAC. And how to dress the kids? The NAC is a downtown theatre. The event was an 8 p.m. screening of a film accompanied by a full orchestra. Again, dress for the venue, or the event?

Like my mother before me, I dressed up rather than down. In my mind this is the Right Thing. I was in black skirt and heels. The girls wore skirts and dress shoes. Mark wore dark pants and a nice sweater. I think we were appropriately attired. I know we did the Right Thing. In fact, we looked pretty darn smart. I know this for sure because of the number of approving glances we received from elderly members. (If you’ve been to the NAC you know it’s a regular hangout of the blue rinse set.)

If you’ve ever been to the NAC you also know that there is always a wild cross-section of people who attend these kinds of events along with an equally weird variety of wardrobe choices. At the Wizard of Oz I saw almost everything ranging from track pants up to the latest from Holt’s, including bare midriffs, jeans, and running shoes. I saw kids on both sides of the “dress up or dress normal” argument. I loved seeing little people in shirts and ties, and little girls in pretty dresses. As for the kids who looked like they came straight from a playdate, well, I couldn’t help but wonder. Why didn’t the parents dress them up a bit? Or perhaps it’s just me, living an outdated fantasy of the 1950s? It’s interesting that the best-dressed people were almost always on the other side of 55 … well-heeled and equally well lacquered.  What do you think?

Anyway, yes. Enough about that. The Wizard of Oz was great. I love that movie. I think I may have seen it 50 times in my life but I could never get tired of it. It was a great choice of film. The NAC orchestra sat underneath the big screen and played all the music during the film. It was very good, although in some parts they drowned out the audio of the film, but we all know it so well that it hardly matters.

The girls loved it, although I noticed Sarah plugging her ears at the witchiest parts.

I do hope the NAC brings it back again, or at least something like it. I think it gave the girls a really good appreciation of what the music is, how it works, and how difficult it is to make a good job of it.

8 Responses to "Going out, dressing up"

1 | Sily_Kim

March 27th, 2007 at 10:48 am


I dislike the way “dress up” clothes are always more gender specific. Ever notice that, or is it just me?

For an event like this, I would have my two a little dressier than normal – meaning clean clothes that are “nice” and presented well (pressed, etc), but not necessarily a little suit and dress. Haven would only wear what she thinks is comfy, so it would be pants with a bit of stretch and a long sleeve shirt/blouse. Her hair would be done up, not left all frizzy like it often is. Lucas would probably wear pants, button shirt and a little sweater vest. He has a lot less “dress” clothes to choose from, just because it’s harder to find boy stuff.

I do think that if you aren’t sure, dressing up nicer is the better choice!

2 | Karen

March 27th, 2007 at 12:01 pm


I’m with you on the dressing up for the Right Events. It is always a question for me too, but like you, I ere on the side of caution. I too have noticed that this habit is firmly with the over 50 set and much less with the under 40. I suppose it comes from generational norms but it often does make me wonder if I was born to the wrong generation.

3 | twinmomplusone

March 27th, 2007 at 1:35 pm


Good for you for getting the whole family to “dress up”. I find it a shame that people don’t dress up anymore, they’ll wear the same thing to go see their kids play soccer, go grocery shopping or go to the NAC. That just seems wrong to me.

When I was last at the NAC with my 12 year old to see The Nutcracker, I dressed up and she did too, very reluctantly alas. But when she got there and saw so many people dressed up, she swore to dress up even more next time and was actually appalled at people showing up with their sweats.

4 | BeachMama

March 27th, 2007 at 2:49 pm


Glad to hear that I am not alone in the dressing up to go out thing. There are times to go out in your jeans and times to go out dressed up. I think the NAC is one of those places you should dress up for. The girls will appreciate it later in life.

And my Mom dresses up to go to the mall too!

5 | melissa

March 27th, 2007 at 9:28 pm


I like to have Sam looking nice too – but I absolutely could not get him into a button down shirt until this past October for my SIL’s wedding – then managed a button down shirt and tie (I found one with construction equipment on it). So I had a lot of nicer shirts for him, but they were all cotton etc.

So, Sam’s been to see MonsterJam Truck Rally twice in the past 2 months. In the second one, they had Truckosauraus, a gargantuan metal monster that wheels out, breaths fire, then lifts up crushed cars and crushes them some more with his mouth. Does that count as culture :) I’m glad he loves to read and sits through pretty much any Roald Dahl book for nights on end – makes me not mind Truckosaurus ….and of course he loooooved MonsterJam so much I’d honestly take him again in a heartbeat, especially given that tickets are $16.

6 | Marla

March 28th, 2007 at 9:09 am


Steve and I are play on team dress up, for sure! Sadly, as you noted – it’s not ball gowns and up-do’s. But I love an excuse to wear a dress or skirt, and pretty shoes. and when Steve wears a suit? ROWRRRR!

I commend Mark on the DARK pants – I want to know when khakis became dress-up clothes!!!

As for Josie, while we don’t have party dresses for her, she does have some very cute skirts and tops – and while I did return the navy polyester sailor suit with the matching hat and ankle socks she received for Easter last year because it wasn’t “our style” – I want to teach her to dress up to show respect for the performance and artists, and because it’s appropriate.

Good post!

7 | Jay

March 29th, 2007 at 8:28 am


I totally agree with you ont he dressing up, rather than down thing. I often find that my family gets those approving glances from the older generation as well. When you are going out to an ‘event’, all members of the family should be wearing, at the very least, NICE clothing. If not very nice. Hell, I still dress the kids ‘up’ for Sunday dinner at Grandma’s.

8 | Pearl

March 29th, 2007 at 6:17 pm


Still time to see the Four Horseman at GCTC, not with the kids tho.

comment form:


Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • wisma bet login: alwa?s i ?sed to ?ead smzller posts ?hich al?? clear t?eir motive, and that is als? happening wityh t?is paragraph whi?h I am reading ?t this plac
  • /Article//110482: What i do not understood is in truth how you're not really much more neatly-favored than you might be now. You're so intelligent. You understand th
  • Jenn Jilks: That is really exciting! Break a leg!
  • fun88: I was excited to discover this page. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also
  • Gretchen Humphrey: I had a beautiful bee& birdbath filled with a solar fountain and dozens of antique marbles that were suddenly disappearing. At first I thought my
  • Jinjer: I am sobbing reading this post. And you're right, companion is not enough. Little furry treasured gifts that they are. Thanks for sharing cutie-pi
  • Karen: Dear Andrea, Mark and your daughters I am so very sad for your family xxx Piper was/is my favourite Instagram post. You shared with us so intimately

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

Still calling it Twitter