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How to Find Inexpensive Dress-Up Clothes for Kids

Updated on July 20, 2011

A chest of dress-up clothes is a great way to encourage imaginative play, not to mention get the kids out from underfoot for a few hours.

You don't need to buy expensive costumes for dress up. In fact, it's better if you don't!

Here are some tips for stocking an inexpensive dress up chest that will provide hours and hours of fun:

Check your closets.

Start by checking your own closets for old clothes, jewelry, shoes, and accessories you never wear or have just never got around to repairing. Children love to dress up just like Mom and Dad and will happily use everything from outdated bridesmaids dresses and tuxedos to worn-out wallets and scuffed-up shoes. Old sheets make cool ghosts, goddesses, and cloaks; old bathrobes are perfect robes for royalty.


Browse the racks at your local thrift store.

Thrift stores are a fantastic place to look for cool dress up clothes at very low prices. Look for interesting patterns and textures that mimic silk, satin, and velvet, old fashioned and vintage cuts such as peasant blouses (great for pirates and musketeers) and bell bottoms, and interesting dresses, vests, and shawls. Thrift stores are also great sources for inexpensive fake jewelry and used accessories.

Many thrift stores also have special displays at Halloween with tons of cool costumes and props that are perfect for both trick-or-treating and everyday imaginative play.

Check yard sales.

Yard sales are another place where you can find some real treasures for very low prices. Most newspapers carry listings of local yard sales, sometimes with a description of some of the items available. If something in a listing catches your eye, go check it out!

Splurge on a few specialty props.

If your child has a few favorite characters he or she likes to dress up as, get a few specialized items to help them recreate the look more closely. Hats are especially good for setting the mood.

Make your own costumes and props.

If you enjoy crafts, another great way to save money on dress up clothes and props is to make your own! If possible, let your children help with this - they will enjoy making their own toys and are often amazingly creative at finding unique ways to turn ordinary household items such as cardboard boxes and aluminum foil into cool costumes. You can also take the opportunity to teach them valuable household skills such as sewing, woodworking, and calligraphy.

Remember, wherever you find dress up clothes for your children, always choose age appropriate clothing and props.


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    • sharmanlow profile image

      sharmanlow 6 years ago

      great! ill consider this tips when buying clothes for my grandchildren.

    • .josh. profile image

      .josh. 6 years ago

      Love this - imaginative play really is such an important aspect of a child's development, and an easy one to incorporate into kid's lives (i.e., because they love it!). I'm actually a teacher myself, and in my class, we have some of the most ridiculous articles of clothing you can imagine, but the kids love it, and never cease to amaze me with what they come up with.

      Great hub!