melissa’s ’90s mini ballerina party

Check out Melissa's '90s Mini Ballerina Party on

child mags blog Sub Editor, Melissa Cowan, shares some memories of her third birthday celebrations and her favourite childhood outfit with us. It reminds us of how obsessed our children can get with one outfit!

For my third birthday celebrations, we had a pool party with my family and best friends. This photo was taken at our family home in Belrose in October 1991, I’d just turned three. Our house had a huge backyard with a cubby house and my favourite part was the pool, hence the pool party. It was a really leafy and spacious place to grow up in – very different to the small Eastern suburbs apartment I live in now. I’m grateful that I grew up somewhere that I could roam around freely and go exploring.

I was wearing my special party tutu on the day. I loved wearing ‘fairy dresses’ or tutus and refused to wear anything that wasn’t pink. Mum’s always saying that I was a strong-minded child, sometimes much to her dismay! This pink tutu was my favourite.

The leotard and tutu came from a ‘fairy shop’ in Balgowlah, NSW. I wore them all the time – it was an everyday outfit for me. Pants and a top weren’t going to cut it! The hat on the table belonged to my mum. She loved hats and would always dress me in different coloured hats that matched the outfits I wore.

I did ballet from the age of three – it was the earliest they allowed (I couldn’t wait!). I think I loved wearing the ballet outfits as much as the actual classes. I have strong memories of my ballet teacher telling us to imagine honey dripping from our toes while we danced.

What I can remember on the day of my birthday party is my nana looking after me and taking me around on my trike. Although she didn’t have much money, she would spoil me with things like magazines or small toys (or chocolate!). I adored her and treasure the time we spent together.

Some of my fondest childhood memories include going to Forster for the holidays (where my grandparents lived). I still go there and love it so much. I was always a bit of a ‘water baby’ and still am.

As you can see, my mouth is covered in chocolate as I had just eaten my birthday cake – Mum made one from the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Cookbook. I remember choosing which one I wanted and being super excited. This one was the pool cake with a jelly center. I still talk about that cookbook with my friends to this day!

My dad took this photo – he was very into photography (you can see one of his cameras on the table), but this was just an off-the-cuff snap at the end of the party.

There are a few photos of me in matching outfits to Mum and Dad, which is embarrassing now! I don’t think I ever wore pants – something that carried on until my university days, where I would only ever wear dresses or skirts.

Make a match with Melissa’s third birthday: Check out Melissa's '90s Mini Ballerina Party on www.childmagsblog.comLet Them Eat Cake Tutu Dress – Wisteria TuTuDuMonde / Metallic Espadrille Witchery / Crochet Hat Country Road / Pink & Gold Tassel Party Horns Lark / Pool Cake The Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Cake Cookbook/ Bouncy Balls Poppies for Grace / Mega Bubble Wand Kmart / Bonbon Bracelet Seed Heritage / Rose Floral Swimsuit Plum / Beach Umbrella – Acapulco Sunny Life / Inflatable Flamingo Fenton & Fenton

In The Nostalgia Series we’re sharing treasured childhood memories through fashion, books, toys and family heirlooms. We’d love to hear your stories too! Please get in touch with photos of yourself as a child and tell us what was special to you in that photo and why. Email us at

Still-life Styling: Jenna Templeton / Photo: Melissa’s dad, Graeme