dress up

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dress up

1. To dress formally, perhaps more formally than usual. You need to dress up for this event tonight—a suit and tie would be appropriate. I dressed up for the birthday party and was embarrassed to find all of the other guests in shorts and T-shirts.
2. To wear attire that is appropriate for a specific occasion. It takes the kids forever to get dressed up for hockey practice, what with all the pads and layers of clothes they need to put on.
3. To improve or attempt to improve the appearance of something by decorating or embellishing it. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "dress" and "up." Don't worry, a fresh coat of paint will dress this room up. Don't try to dress it up, Mom—my crush completely rejected me.
4. To wear a costume. My daughter plans to dress up as Cinderella for Halloween.
5. To dress someone or something in a costume. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "dress" and "up." I have a friend who really enjoys dressing up her dachshund as different historical figures.
6. noun A children's activity that involves dressing up in costumes. In this usage, the phrase is typically hyphenated. Because my girls love to play dress-up, they regularly emerge from the playroom in feather boas and tiaras.
7. adjective Describing an occasion that requires one to dress in formal or fanciful attire. In this usage, the phrase is typically hyphenated. Tonight's dinner is a dress-up event, so be sure to wear a suit and tie. What costume do you think you'll wear to tonight's dress-up party?
See also: dress, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

dress ( oneself ) up

to dress in fancy dress. They dressed themselves up in their finest. Please dress up for the dance.
See also: dress, up

dress someone or something up (in something)

to clothe, decorate, or ornament someone or something in something. She dressed her dolls up in special clothing. She dressed up her dolls in tiny outfits.
See also: dress, up

dress someone or something up

to make someone or something appear fancier than is actually so. The publicity specialist dressed the actress up a lot. They dressed up the hall so it looked like a ballroom.
See also: dress, up

dress someone up (as someone or something )

to dress someone to look like or impersonate someone or something. She dressed her little girl up as a witch for Halloween. She dressed up her little girl as a fairy.
See also: dress, up

*(all) dressed up

dressed in one's best clothes; dressed formally. (*Typically: be ~; get ~; get someone ~.) I really hate to get all dressed up just to go somewhere to eat.
See also: dress, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

dress up

1. Wear formal or elaborate clothes, as in I love to dress up for a party. [Late 1600s] For the antonym, see dress down, def. 2.
2. Put on a costume of some kind, as in The children love dressing up as witches and goblins. [Late 1800s]
3. Adorn or disguise something in order to make it more interesting or appealing. For example, She has a way of dressing up her account with fanciful details. [Late 1600s]
See also: dress, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

dress up

1. To clothe someone or something: They dressed their dolls up in outfits they made themselves. The store owner dressed up the mannequin and put it in the window of the store.
2. To wear formal or fancy clothes: The students dressed up and went to the prom.
3. To dress someone in clothes suited for some particular occasion or situation: We dressed up the children for the cold weather. We'll need to dress ourselves up for wet weather. I can see you're dressed up to go hiking.
4. To wear clothes suited for some particular occasion or situation: People usually dress up in white to play tennis.
5. To make something appear more interesting or attractive than it actually is: The real estate agent dressed up the truth about the old house. The story of my trip was pretty boring, so I dressed it up with colorful exaggerations.
See also: dress, up
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
When children's dress-up manufacturers bought the rights to use the Annie Oakley Enterprises logo from the television brand holders, their ready-to-wear sales took off.
The legend of Annie Oakley was also defined by the imaginative possibilities laid out by the dress-up outfits.
Although a form of dress-up, the cowgirl outfit became such a common category of children's dress that it constituted a fashion of the day.
(67) Philosopher Roland Barthes described clothing as "a substitute for the body" and others describe it as a "second skin." Cowgirl dress-up clothing drew on clothing traditions crafted from actual animal skins such as deer and cow.
Cowgirl dress-up was a "third skin" that was worn over their "second skin" or normal play clothes.
And from the moment the lights went down and the rock beat started up, the young audience - many of whom donned their favourite Disney dress-ups for the occasion - were mesmerized, including my own two little Buzz fans, aged two and five.
ADD AFFORDABLE DRESS-UPS Inexpensive green furniture tassels from a local fabric store glam up a mass-market umbrella.
Activities include who can eat the most Smarties with chopsticks in a minute, sponsored dress-ups where managers will take on the identity of a sumo wrestler for the day, food sales and film screenings.
''This is what my female fan-base discovers, that you don't have to be skinny-skinny to be sexy, you don't have to be born with it, you can get in the spirit of what I'm on about with a radical game of dress-ups. Set your hair in curlers, put on some red lipstick ...