This post is dedicated to my friends Nikki and Ashley, with whom I have had many deep and philosophical conversations about smock.


My Mom could be a millionaire.

You see, she knows how to smock. Well. And, if you haven’t noticed, smocked clothes have, in some circles, become the epitome of children’s fashion and (can I say it without being mauled) status symbol.

And it doesn’t come without a price, either – you can either buy your smock for $70 at Strasburg Children or a department store, or you can REALLY pay and get it at a local boutique shop for untold amounts of money.

Or, you can step up a level and invest your 401(k) into these clothes that your kids will only get to wear for one season and get custom, personalized smock made just for you.

Which is where my Mom could be a millionaire.

I personally am not a fan of smock. It’s just a personal preference, I know, but it’s just not my thing. Probably because of the fact that I was dressed in smock as a kid, and so smock reminds me of the 80’s.

But really, I think I was born with my smock aversion – I can’t help it – because even in the 80’s, I wasn’t a fan.

I’m pretty sure that Mom quit smocking because she realized that after she would smock her fingers to the bone for weeks and then all night long before Easter morning, I would dutifully and glumly wear it, and if I didn’t manage to spill red Kool-Aid on it or rip it playing “snake” in Sunday School, then I’d beg never to wear it again.pics025

Don’t I look happy?

That may have been my last piece of smock.

Poor Mom.

If only she’d realized that she could have sold that smock for hundreds of dollars to other Moms instead of fighting me wear it…she’d be a millionaire.

At any rate, due to my aversion to the 80’s and smock in general, I usually dress Ali a bit…funkier: IMG_0693

and I tend to replace smock with sequins, much to her excitement:IMG_8127

Not to say that my Mom never dressed me with a bit of non-smocked flair… pics026


Wow. Smock looks good after that.

So, as Easter approaches (which is also basically the National Holiday of Smock), I find myself deeply meditating on the issue of smock.

And here in the South, I would say that there are definite circles of high-smock expectations and low-smock expectations, generally based around the Church you go to.

They may not be spoken guidelines, but as soon as you step foot onto the nursery hallway, you can almost smell it in the air – which smock denomination (smocknomination?) your church falls under:

Smock-Free Churches – These are the young, urban, trendy churches where the adults wear blue jeans and shorts, and so of course they’re not going to out-dress themselves by smocking up their kids.

Smock-Optional Churches – These are accepting-of-all churches that try to go low on the social pressures to dress your children in a certain way. Some kids may have smock, and some kids may not, but no two-year-old points out that another two-year-old looks funny because they aren’t properly smocked.

Smock-Strongly-Suggested Churches – You might feel unspoken social pressures in these churches based on the sheer volume of other children dressed in a smock-like fashion.

Smock-Required until Puberty Churches – These churches might as well require all children, boys or girls, to be wearing smock – and not just on Sunday mornings, either. If your child is seen at the playground, they better be smocked within an inch of their life, even if they are tearing it to pieces with playground rocks.

(Luckily for Ali, we attend a Smock-Optional Church. I’d hate for her to be ridiculed for my quirky fashion tastes.)

If one is a smocky-person, then one must also consider their personal standards regarding the ages of smockability, the gender of smock (yes, boys sometimes are smocked up also), and acceptable alternatives to smock (whether embroidery, personalized initials, and boutique clothes that aren’t smocked are acceptable substitutions on a day where smock isn’t available).

Luckily for my all-too-picky tastes, my Mom did believe in Smock Alternatives:

See? Don’t I look happier?

Disclaimer: The views expressed by this blog post is not necessarily true, and no claims are made that the author believes that you should base your church preferences off of your smock preferences. This post is entirely intended to satirically analyze smock, and not to guide your moral and ethical smock choices. No liability, explicit or implied, shall be extended for any smock-related injuries or offenses.

Oh – and Mom – I’m sorry about all those late night and vastly underappreciated smocks.

Editor’s Note: A Follow-Up Post can be found here.

29 thoughts on “The Issue of Smock

  1. Cute post! I like smock when I was kid, but I understand you not liking it. Everyone has the right to their own taste in clothing. My Grandma used to make our dresses with smock. I never thought about churches being group by smock rules. It was actually quite funny once I started to think about it. There could be something to that train of thought.

    Just a side note: JC doesn't really look thrilled in the family picture either.

  2. #1 You are ADORABLE in that last picture!

    #2 I am not a fan of "the smock". It's OK, but I wouldn't go out of my way to dress my kid in it. I'm definitely not a fan when it's on little boys. :(

  3. That is so funny b/c I am working on a "fashions of Easter's past" post today, hope to have it up tonight.
    My mom could smock & she LOVED smocked things & dressed us in them any chance she got. She gave me several of our old smocked dresses & Aubrey has worn a few of them.
    I like to dress Aubrey in smock, but totally understand that it's not for everyone.
    I CAN'T believe how much some people pay for smocked clothes, I get mine at consignment sales and some are hand me downs.
    I'm not a fan of smock on boys (but to each his own), even if I was, Ryan would have NEVER let Luke out of the house in a smocked outfit :)

  4. I go to a smock-optional church, except for Easter then it is "You better get your smock on." The family picture is adorable and the last picture of you is too cute. I love the little white dress you have on.

  5. I AM glad to know that you've deemed out church a Smock-Optional Church…especially since I myself wear jeans every Sunday and I'm a real-live-official PW (Pastor's Wife) now… ;)
    but whenever we DO have kids, my mother will smock herself TO DEATH…and I'm not sure that I will be able to stop her.
    and I'm not sure that I have the heart to stop her either…
    In fact, I am 85% sure that she has a secret closet at her house where she is keeping a vat array of smocked clothes for my future children…..sigh

    Anyway, I wore my share of smocked frocks….and so did my brothers! Hee hee…maybe I can get my hands on some old pics too!

  6. I dressed both my boys in smocked john-johns all the time when they were really little. At the time though, I was attending a "smock them until puberty church," and it was practically considered sacrilege to show up in anything else. It seemed normal, cute, and it was all that I saw every Sunday, so I didn't know I had an option. I quit at age 2 for C, and earlier for E. I like babies in it, and little girls, but not boys old enough to look like…well, like boys. Does that make sense?

    All that being said, neither of my children would have EVER (NEVER EVER) worn smocked clothes if I had had to pay the outrageous cost for them. They wore them b/c they were all hand-me-downs. Each and every one of them were handed down from another friend. In case you're wondering, she attends a smock required church.

  7. I've seriously thought about venturing into the smocking world and starting my own smocked empire! However, I don't have much patience so that project may only last a couple of days. As for dressing in smock, I'm okay with it on occasion for little girls and baby boys. I'm anti-smock for boys over age 1. Like you I attend a smock-optional church and don't get much pressure from the socialites.

    Oh and on a sidenote, if you're wondering why bhamparadehomes is following you on twitter that's because it's me and I'm desperate for new followers! So yeah, I'm shamelessly begging you to follow the Parade of Homes! :)

  8. I LOVE the way you dress Ali! I might copy your fashion sense. I didn't grow up in a 'smock area' so I never fully understood the smock craze. Until now. Thank you for enlightening me.

  9. My precious little girl was smockolicious every day, regardless of planned activities, aNd bow-headed up to match! And barefooted most of the time. Just how we rolled.
    Loved ur funny take on the smock! U crack me up!!

  10. This is all news to me. I didn't know about Easter smock traditions, nor that it was expensive (really?), nor about smocknomination. Is this a Southern thing?

    Don't even get me started on boys wearing smock! YIKES!

  11. So funny! I feel so fortunate to attend a smock-optional church! Of course, my 19mo has donned only one smocked dress (so far– we've yet to receive this season's hand-me-downs). I'm not necessarily opposed to the smock, but it is not a favorite either.

  12. Don't feel guilty. Sewing was actually my therapy. It was relaxing (except for the Easter deadline of staying up all night to finish), creative, and most of all, a finished product when most of my mommy energy spent never resulted in anything completed or finished. Mom

  13. This CRACKED ME UP! I live in the North…What's smocked? Kidding, I know, but we don't do smock up here. People are just happy you show up in church wearing clothes. At least that's my view. Of course, I can't speak for everyone. Frankly we have nothing to wear for Easter. I'm hoping the dress my daughter wore last year will still fit. My son will end up in hole-free jeans and a stain-free shirt (HOPEFULLY). We're pathetic up here.

    Loved the photos.

  14. Haha, I never really thought about it one way or another. My girls have several smocked dresses, but they were not purchased specifically for their smock. :) I do believe S's easter dress has smock, although K's does not. :) I'm impressed that your mom knows how to do that though! Too bad you don't like it since you could get free smock! :)

    P.S. I had no idea people dressed boys in smock…that I would not go for.

  15. I am not a huge fan of smocking, but I have bought some pieces that were. In fact, just last night at Kids' Market I bought a Strasburg smocked yellow dress for $35. I NEVER spend that much on any piece of clothing at Kids' Market, but there was just something about this dress that called my name…and it wasn't the smocking. I think it was the ribbons. However, I had no idea how much they were new, so thanks! I feel so much better now about how much I spent on it.

    The only thing I have ever bought for one of my boys that was smocked was David's very first Easter outfit when he was 6 mos. old (and it was yellow, too, come to think of it). Unfortunately, he had a blow-out that day in the nursery, and they had to change him out of it and into his casual change of clothes within 10 minutes of getting there – and in the chaos of the day (it was the day my dad had his stroke, oddly enough) the bag that had his now-soiled outfit in it was lost forever. I didn't even have the chance to take his picture in it.

    I know, that's so sad it's hilarious.

  16. Elizabeth has a really really cute dress with smocking on it and I just realized that we have zero pictures of it. Good thing it still fits (barely!) I'm going to have to photograph it within an inch of its remaining life…

    PS I love the old photos

  17. Hilarious article, R. DD#1 was shocked into smock by my generous inlaws. DD#2 sprang from the womb with an aversion, making sure she puked or "other" on every smocked outfit I tried to put on her. Needless to say, it has been an expensive lesson to learn. God bless the smockers of the world. It takes time, talent and patience to know you are working hard on something that has a good chance of getting spit up all over it.

  18. I have become a smock appreciator and yes even my son has been spotted in smock, of tractors and dogs, but still smocking(gifts or hand me downs or of course kids market finds). I have even had smocking lessons and have two dresses smocked by myself. I will be happy to purchase fabric and thread if your mother would like some smocking therapy that would be greatly appreciated and admired. If you still have that smocked dress from the picture…:)

  19. Ok, I love smock! & I think my church is a smock-strongly-suggested church so I appreciate the pressure/excuse-to-buy-smocking! I can’t wait because I’m planning on bringing my BOY home in a smocked outfit! (please don’t cringe hahaha)

    1. I can totally see your mother stitching her fingers to the bone to make oodles of smock for her precious grandson!! :) It’s perfect!!

  20. At the risk of sounding old and insane… what are you guys talking about with this smocking? what exactly is it? i googled it and it is an apron like thing, that cant be it because i cant figure out why you would wear an apron to church… please please help! :)

  21. nevermind. i found it! wow! who knew this was a verb! Love the blog thanks for being my sunday guilty pleasure today!

  22. I have a trunk full of smocked dresses that my daughter wore when she was little. That was all she wore. My stepdaughter babysat for another mother one night. That mother, not realizing this was my daughter too (!), made this comment: “I hate her. … always dresses her little girl in those smocked dresses. My daughter has smocked dresses too, but we save them for Sundays!” My stepdaughter didn’t know what to say except “oh, sorry you feel that way. … that’s all my little sister has because my mom just loves to smock!” Weird that I still remember that rude comment now 28 years later. Anyway, has anyone ever heard of smocked dresses being successfully turned into a quilt?

  23. HAHAHA This is hilarious. I personally don’t like smocking at all. Or the trend of the really frilly clown pants. None of the kids at my church wear smocking, so I guess we are an urban, hip church-haha.

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