I’ve been saving up my bloggy vacation days for over three years now, and for the first time ever, I’m going to intentionally take a few days off.  But don’t worry – while I’m letting my fingers take a Spring Break, I’ll be posting some older re-runs here that most of you probably weren’t around for anyway.  Today’s post is only a year old, but it’s seasonally appropriate.  So with Easter quickly approaching, let’s all take a moment to ponder and discuss our smock affiliations…

Originally Published March 23, 2010.

(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.


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 attend.

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.

17 thoughts on “The Issue of Smock.

  1. I grew up being smocked to within an inch of my life, too. Hated every second of it. None of my kids have ever worn anything smocked, ever. But I have friends whose kids really ONLY wear that stuff up to a certain age. I don’t get it, but to each his own. :)

  2. My husband and I were just having this conversation. Being from California, he thinks all the smocked dresses are cute!? I on the other hand only think it is cute on toddlers.

  3. Alas, Ashley was always beautifully dressed in smock until the age of accountability. :-) This was compliments of a grandmother who sewed and smocked, and loved to do it! Admittedly, as her Mom I loved it, too. Glad it is not a “have to” for our granddaughters, but I must admit that sometimes I do miss it! :-)

    1. That’s so hard to picture since I’ve seen Ashley in a dress all of one time – at a funeral! I guess she grew out of her smock… ;)

  4. I loved reading this post again. It makes me laugh. I think I said this last year, but smock is definitely a southern thing…at least the hype attatched to it. People buy smocked dresses up here but I doubt if half of them even know it is called smock….smocking? I think it’s cute, but I don’t remember wearing it as a child. :)

  5. I was smocked too and I can’t say I hated it .. I’m not so sure I cared. I just thought I and every other girl was supposed to wear what my mom dressed me in. I was a VERY obedient child! (I know what you’re thinking!) I find it ultra feminine and would totally do it if I had a little girl .. with GIGANTIC bows, nonetheless .. just like my mom did to me, even though I always promised that I would not! Not for the status part so much, I think more because I was taught that way. That “way” meaning I was taught that it was the girliest of girly things although I LOVE the funky stuff too, as you know! I agree with you however that it has become somewhat of a status symbol, but I don’t think it was so much when we were wearing it. At least not for my family! Alas, I do not have a girl and will not have a girl and never did nor will EVER put my lil guy in that stuff!!! Besides, J would have a fit!!!! Still think you’re mom’s ability to create the smocking is amazing :)

  6. Well I was a smock-happy mother, my MIL was a smocker & was always making precious outfits for my children. I think I actually got away longer with dressing my oldest (son) this way, of course he has issues with me now about it! My younger son let me know right away he wanted to dress like his daddy and my daughter had to be bribed big-time by the time she was five to wear the last dress her Granny smocked for her!

    I think our church has evolved from the Smock-Strongly-Suggested in the eighties to now being a Smock-Optional church. I always smile with reminisce to myself when I see little ones coming in on Sundays with their smocked attire. I love your whole insight on this subject, I think I laughed until I had tears! The things we think are so important at certain times in our lives and then look back on it as, “what was I thinking?” Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hilarious post! I remember the dresses with smocking were really itchy (but they were cute!). Smock is kind of a fun word to say if you say it over and over . . . smock, smock, smock, smock.
    Being so over-dressed for church as a child has led me to always search out churches where I can wear jeans. :)

    1. When I originally wrote that post, I REALLY had fun saying smock over and over in my head…and it was almost as much fun typing it so many times!!! :)

  8. Smock must be a southern thing. I’ve seen it in Macy’s but never thought of it as anything other than a dress with cute embroidery (don’t let your mom hear that).

    1. It’s CRAZY down here. You see kids at the PLAYGROUND wearing $90 smocked dresses… and at the bowling alley…and at the Monster Truck Rally…
      Okay I’ve never been to a Monster Truck Rally, but I guarantee you there’d be a kid all smocked up in attendance.

  9. LOL – thankfully not smocked growing up – grew up in Texas, so we did have hand made clothes, but not smocking – not fully southern mind you! With my oldest, I avoided smocking like crazy – she just didn’t seem to “fit” the smocking personality – I dressed her funky and she still does to this day – we also love our Matilda Jane for her. My youngest, well I like her in smocked bishop dresses, but not much else, so I would fall into the smock optional category – it fits her personality more. I do have to laugh at the kids that come into 1st grade on day one in a full length bishop and tennis shoes expecting to run around on the playground all day and I did have to talk my friend down from from ordering her 5 year old BOY a peter pan collar top and matching cord overalls for Christmas, just because it was in his size, doesn’t mean it should be purchased! :)

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