Build A Dress-Up Wardrobe on a Budget

July 1st, 2010by Jessi Arias-Cooper

Children love playing dress-up. It’s a unisex activity that will give your children hours of imaginative fun with endless possibilities.

Most major box stores have sections in their toy aisles devoted to costumes from Tinkerbell to firefighters. Unfortunately, the price-tags can be real turn-offs. By the time you buy the main outfit and all of the “must-have” accessories, you’ve spent $50 on one costume.

If you have multiple children, buying these outfits just isn’t practical. If you buy for one, you have to buy for all. Believe me, I know.

Building a great dress-up wardrobe doesn’t have to be a wallet-clearing endeavor. Costume items are everywhere if you just keep your eyes peeled. Chances are, you probably already have a great start without even knowing it.

Putting together a great dress-up ensemble can be both affordable and fun.

Take a look at these simple, budget-friendly hunting tips:

Check your attic and closets. Just because something isn’t current doesn’t mean it’s lost its value. The point is for your children to have fun. What’s more amusing than a 6-year-old in tie-dye and leg-warmers?

Look in your jewelry box and junk drawer. If you have old, out-dated glasses, pop out the lenses and throw them in the toy box. You can also add “retro” baubles that won’t be gracing your “ensem” for another 15 years (when it comes back into style).

Go to thrift shops. I’m personally convinced that second-hand stores were created for their costume power. You never know what gems you’ll find in the racks.

Look through clearance aisles. Often times there are mismatched costume pieces at reduced prices in the clearance aisle. My sons take turns being Spiderman, because someone returned a dress-up outfit without the matching gloves.

Buy costumes after Halloween. Check out the clearance racks a couple days after the holiday and you can pick up awesome pieces for 75% off. Don’t forget to check the accessories for cheap wigs and accessories.

Two words: garage sales. Every garage sale is an opportunity to find dress-up treasures.

Your children will love playing with their new dress-up wardrobe. You can continue to add items and freshen up the kit whenever you come across something new. But beware: you never know who’ll be coming to dinner!

Jessi Arias-Cooper is the senior writer and an editor for She is a work-from-home mother of 3 boys and has been married for 10 years. If she had time for hobbies and interests outside of parenting and keeping house, they would be jewelry making, baking, watching bad B-movie horror flicks and creative writing . If you have a question for Jessi, click here.

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