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Building the Dress-Up Wardrobe

Cole_princess_2 I need your help, Mamas.  I've somehow avoided dress-up play for this long but I can't avoid it any longer!  I am hoping to build a dress-up wardrobe for the kids by shopping at thrift shops.  But where to begin?

I figure I'll get some pieces, mostly tops, that represent different professions (the uniform section) and some accessories (sunglasses, hats, scarves, ties, etc) but what else should I look for.  Have your kids picked a favorite dress up item?  Things that I should consider when selecting the clothes for dress up (fabric care, etc)?  Let's hear what's in YOUR dress-up bin!


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My daughter isn't there yet but I'd start with your own closet. Seriously! I find there's always items in my closet that need to be retired and yet I somehow am not ready to part with (this has been going on for years for me). I have a large plastic bin that I keep all that stuff in. Some of it dates back to when I raided my parents old clothes (I have some amazing vests from the 60s & 70s). Add to that, my own interest in dressing up (Halloween) and I've got quite a collection. I even have feather boas!

I remember getting into my mom's trunk of saved things and thinking it was fabulous. She kept certain old clothes (like old bridesmaid dresses -- horrible for her but delightful for a little girl) in old suitcases. It was marvelous, like a treasure hunt.

If you don't have any old clothes, remember your imagination when cruising through the thrift shops. A billowy white blouse (bonus for ruffles) makes a wonderful pirate top when paired with striped pj bottoms. Belt it with an old belt of any kind or a heavy, long necklace. Hats of any kind besides baseball are exciting. If you want more pizzazz for a boring straw hat, head to the craft store for bright "feathers" and sparkles -- 2 activities in one since the kids can help decorate.

A short flouncy skirt can become a long gypsy skirt on a child. Pair it with that white blouse mentioned above. Throw on lots of bangles and necklaces. A scarf or 2 (or more!)

Since tunics are in right now, see if you can find a retired one in the store, bedazzle it and it becomes an evening gown for a little one.

Dressing up is all about excess whether it be piled on scarves or fun plastic bracelets. Pull out your bangles (not the valueable ones!). Ask Grandma if she has anything fun to contribute (that's where I got most of my antique rhinestone stuff when I was a teen) and just have fun with it. If you have friends that don't have kids, ask them if you can weed through their stuff before they bring it to Goodwill.

Don't forget, it can be fun to dress up like dad too. A huge sports coat, shirt and tie. Just pull that stuff right out of Dad's closet!

my 2 cents from my own memories of the beloved dress-up box:

k is right on. glitz/glitter/glamour is where it's at. anything satin, sequined, sparkly, or gauzy were favorites. grownup high heels also won me over. fringe and lace, parasols, and big necklaces... and yes, those big awful taffeta bridesmaids dresses that mommies hate can be pretty thrilling for little girls.

i don't have any advice about the non-girly stuff, unfortunately. but i do think you could build a pretty good base at a very low cost, for sure.

Scarves of all colors and sizes. Kid's imaginations can turn them into skirts, capes, turbans, wings.... I think things that are flexible in their interpretation are a great addition. Besides, who doesn't love a scarf.

And if I might plug one of my favorite mama blogs - Soule Mama http://soulemama.typepad.com/
- she has a book that has just come out called the Creative Family and in it is a chapter on putting together an awesome dress up box with ideas about how to foster dress up play.

You'll have to wait a few months, but we got some great dress up stuff for our boys at Goodwill at/after Halloween. For less than $10 total, he can be a tiger, bird, dragon or a pirate. And a few weeks ago I picked up a brand new pair of overalls at HootnAnnie for like $6 that he also loves--with those he can be a farmer, garbage man, or a conductor. I'd like to buy a cowboy hat and boots, and a fireman get-up if possible.

You can get silks through a variety of catalogs (magic cabin etc). They are a bit spendy, but my kids have played with them nonstop for 4 years. They come in a variety of colors to allow the imagination to flow. We tie on the brown one to be a bear or the red one to be spider man or a firefighter. We have developed quite a few princess dresses out of several silks wrapped in different ways. We've actually had to replace some of ours because they were used soo much. So in my humble opinion, silks are tops on my toy list. They really bring out the imagination in kids and to top it off, they are easy to store, just toss them in a tin or bin. The one down side is you will find yourself tieing them all the time.

Just get to digging at the Goodwill. Cloaks, "fancy" vests, pirate like peasant pants or skirts with drawstrings. A variety of hats is a must. Junk jewelry. Masks. Lingergie in some versions is silky and tame enough for kids to costume with. An old style lunchbox, briefcase and few props from any profession that doesn't have sharp objects involved. I kept my kids costumes in a cedar chest... with airholes drilled in "just in case" somebody got cute and tried to lock the other in.

Timely discussion. My almost-3 year old loves to play dress-up. But as someone above mentioned, it's been hard to find nongirly things to put in the box. We do have a couple tutus and purses, tiaras and my old shoes, and I'll admit it's sort of adorable to see him all excited about wearing "a dress! just like mommy!" but I fear that "people" (inlaws in particular) will think I am pushing some agenda onto him, when it's just that I haven't really been able to find things from the other side of the gender spectrum. (I was thinking Goodwill for costumes, but November is a long time to wait!) I did just score a little train conductor outfit (only a thin vest and a hat and kerchief) from a used clothing store near my house, but that's pretty much it for the XY factor.

For non gender specific items, hats are the window to imagination. We have a fire hat (from the dollar store) construction hat (came with a dump truck) bavarian hat ( Mt. angel October fest) flower crown (Polish Festival) pith helmet, (Oriental Trading co) and a cowboy/girl hat from the party supply store. Plus we added some mosquito netting to the pith helmet to make a bee keeper hat! Having doubles of a few things is good to for when you have a friend over and they both want to be the same thing! As long as my girl has a hat she's golden. We just buy them whenever we see them.

For girly girl My favorite dress up item when I was little was my moms first communion dress! it even had a veil! My sister and I wore that thing until it was in shreds.

I second the after holloween sales, you can get awesome costumes at target for $3-5 range. I went the morning after and we got a few of the classics...princess, pirate, football player. But another great resource is EBAY...type in dress up lot and you'll find all sorts of sets for pretty inexpensive and you don't have to hunt so much.

To avoid $10 per silk play scarf, I just got some silky fabric (on sale this week at Joannes for $2/yd with the weekly coupon from the paper) and hemmed them. 4 good-sized scarves in the color of your choice for $2 total. The other favorite items at our house are fairy wings (free at the Goodwill bins) and a tutu I made by folding a few layers of tulle in half and sewing a seam about 1.5" from the fold--slip a ribbon through with extra ends to tie them, sew the ribbon into place so it won't slip, and there you have it.

My 3 year old changes her clothes about 10 time per day. I was getting SOOOO frustrated trying to keep track of what was clean/dirty/ready-to-wear, etc. So we came up with a great solution about 6 months ago -- we decorated a special play clothes bin/box for her dress-up clothes. She knows she can try on and play with anything in that box. She can change clothes as many times as she wants. The only rule -- the clothes in her dresser are off limits unless we are getting dressed to go out. Then I give her two choices of outfits. She feels in control, I feel in control and everybody wins. Once a week (or as needed) I scoop up all the clothes in the play clothes bin and wash them. What goes in the box? Cotton dresses, brightly colored tights, special holiday stuff like Easter themed socks, Halloween themed shirts, stuff that's out of season like shorts and tanks in the winter time, and we have some costume-y type clothese we've found at Value Village like a Tigger outfit, funny hats, a princess dress, etc. I've also given her some old purses and costume jewelry. I've found that she likes to put on her own clothing more than the costume type stuff -- so I rotate what goes in the bin so she feels like she has new choices. Some days she runs around in a tank top and panties, other days she puts on as many layers as possible. Everything can be thrown in the washing machine. To me that's key!

My 5-year old is way into animal costumes. Those full-budied ones where only his eyes peak out. Yard sales are great for those. After-Halloween sales as someone noted above. Maybe he'll get into the people dress-up, but not yet. We have been all over town in chicken suits, cow suits to OMSI, frog legs but not the top. It cracks me up, and he's very serious about it all.

My daughter, at 17 months, is already crazy about dress up. She'll crawl out of bed in the morning and put on a pair of my shoes, and try to walk around in them for a while . Then she is on to the oven mitts. Sometimes it's the tiara, cowboy hat and bike helmet all at once. She feels especially cool when she is sporting a purse, holster or boa. Tonight, she wouldn't go to bed without pulling a tu tu on over her PJ's!
I got the boa at fabric depot $15, the cowboy hat at the rodeo $3...And everything else is hand-made or hand-me-down.

i'm a little late to the conversation here, but wanted to put in a plug for garage sales. i have found a bunch of fun x-small women's clothes, jewelry, purses and shoes that my daughter loves to pretend to be "grown up" in. prices of .50 to $3 make it affordable.

hi can any one help me? my 15 year old daughter will be making her first communion in may.our parrish is strict and requires the girls to wear the whole nine yards-communion dress,veil gloves,shoes,diaper,rubberpants,tights and undershirt,where can i find plastic pants to fit her?

Here are a couple of online sources in US:
http://www.fetware.com (high quality, soft, smooth, and quiet)
http://www.plastic-pants.com/(good variety)

have any other moms out there who had to diaper their preteen/teen daughters for first holy communion? if you did please let me know where you got the rubberpants to fit her.

vvp39,thanks much for you help,i went to plastic pants.com and found a pair of plain white ones and ordered them.i got a package of the gerber cloth diapers and sewed them together to make one diaper.i am having her wear the diaper and rubber pants under her holiday dress for the holidays and easter so she will know what to expect when she wears them under her communion dress.

dear vvp39,also thanks for your info on the plastic pants.we just baptized our 12 year daughter as an infant thru the infant baptism program at our parish.she had to be dressed like an infant so we did a cute poofy baptism dresson her with a bonnet,lace socks and little girl type shoes.i made her cloth diaper out of infant diapers sewn together and pinned it on her with diaper pins.i got her rubberpants from plastic-pants .com and they fit her blousy and crinkled under her dress.she looked just like an infant with them on.she looked adorable as an infant!

p.s.-like melissas daughter.she is going to wear the diaper and rubberpants under her communion dress when she is 14.i think they really make girls feel more pure for baptism and first communions.

Alice, will you, like melissa, put diapers and rubber panties on you daughter for Christmas and other special occasions? My daughter, now 17, wore them until after age 16. Her "boyfriend" (same age) has 2 sisters aged 11 and 12 who will be at our home for Christmas Eve. They will be wearing short, fluffy dresses. I have spoken with their mother who tells me they will be put into diapers and frilly rubber panties under their dresses, along with fancy white ankle socks. I have told my daughter that I will be putting her in diapers and rubber panties under her dress also for the occasion, along with frilly white socks. She wants to wear nylon stockings for her boyfriend, but has been warned that she will be given the strap if she doesn't behave when it's time to have her baby panties and ankle socks put on. I agree with you that young girls need the strict discipline of being made to wear diapers and noisy rubber panties under their dresses. I hope you are strict with your daughter and make her wear her diapers and rubber panties for Christmas.

are these comments for real?
this discussion thread has sure taken a turn for the weird.

I think These people are from a different planet. I was raised Catholic and didn't have to wear a diaper for my first communion. BTW, I gave up the Catholic religion for let when I was 15.

About these Catholic traditions. no matter how many diapers you put on or how many times you go to confession, you'll never be good enough to enter Heaven. The Bible says not even one lie will enter in.
Revelation 21:27
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
The Bible says Evil (sin) will now dwell with God.
Psalm 3:4
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
I know I've told a few lies in my life time, so how will I get into Heaven?
The Bible says There has to be a death payment made for sin.
Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I can either make my own death payment (hell) or accept the death payment Jesus made.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 6:47
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life
The Bible also says it's nothing I do myself.
Eph 2:8-9
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast
Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Philippians 3:9
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith
Romans 4:5
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Philippians 3:9
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Galatians 2:21
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Remember the thief on the cross, He didn't do anything but believe.

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