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

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

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

dress up

v.
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
References in classic literature ?
She was not elegantly dressed, but a noble-looking woman, and the girls thought the gray cloak and unfashionable bonnet covered the most splendid mother in the world.
Here she displayed her ingenuity and industry in a variety of flowers and fruits, beautifully coloured, elegantly shaped, and charmingly flavoured; and we were diverted with innumerable animals presenting themselves perpetually to our view.
Having thus reestablished his position, he sank elegantly into a tete-a-tete ottoman.
He was a smooth and florid personage, elegantly dressed, and he spoke their language freely, which gave him a great advantage in dealing with them.
If there is one spectacle that is unpleasanter than another, it is that of an elegantly dressed young lady towing a dog by a string.
The Picture, elegantly framed, came safely to hand soon after Mr.
The Marquis took a gentle little pinch of snuff, and shook his head; as elegantly despondent as he could becomingly be of a country still containing himself, that great means of regeneration.
But--seated upon the stump, she was startled to find an elegantly dressed gentleman reading a newspaper.
Another book I have which I call 'The Supplement to Polydore Vergil,' which treats of the invention of things, and is a work of great erudition and research, for I establish and elucidate elegantly some things of great importance which Polydore omitted to mention.
It has only one clear story above the ground-floor; but the roof, rising steeply, has several projecting windows, with carved spandrels rather elegantly enclosed in oaken frames, and externally adorned with balustrades.
They first passed through the "black town," with its narrow streets, its miserable, dirty huts, and squalid population; then through the "European town," which presented a relief in its bright brick mansions, shaded by coconut-trees and bristling with masts, where, although it was early morning, elegantly dressed horsemen and handsome equipages were passing back and forth.
When he prepares for any undertaking this gentleman immediately explains to you, elegantly and clearly, exactly how he must act in accordance with the laws of reason and truth.
But, by degrees, watch-chains, necklaces, parti-colored scarfs, embroidered bodices, velvet vests, elegantly worked stockings, striped gaiters, and silver buckles for the shoes, all disappeared; and Gaspard Caderousse, unable to appear abroad in his pristine splendor, had given up any further participation in the pomps and vanities, both for himself and wife, although a bitter feeling of envious discontent filled his mind as the sound of mirth and merry music from the joyous revellers reached even the miserable hostelry to which he still clung, more for the shelter than the profit it afforded.
His long, dark hair, softly powdered here and there with silver tendrils, fell elegantly over his shoulders in wavy curls; his voice was still youthful, as if belonging to a Hercules of twenty-five, and his magnificent teeth, which he had preserved white and sound, gave an indescribable charm to his smile.
Are there still to be found in Europe gentlemen keen of face and elegantly slight of body, of distinguished aspect, with a fascinating drawing-room manner and with a dark, fatal glance, who live by their swords, I wonder?