Five ways to keep dress-up fun for older girls

My four-year-old, Sydney, loves to play dress-up. Her current favorite is a fabulous Snow White dress that my mom found at a thrift store (the kind that’s expensive at the Disney Store at Halloween). She always accessorizes with elbow-length yellow gloves, red high heels, and various Mardi Gras beads.

Having three girls, we have quite a collection of dress-up clothes. I love watching little girls decked out in feather boas and beads, capes and purses. (Rich hates the way the feather boas shed all over the house…one time we even found pieces of hot pink feathers in the furnace filter!) Dressing up is a great way for kids to use their imagination and it is so much better than my nemesis, screen time! But my oldest, Audrey, now a fourth-grader, can sometimes feel too old to join in the fun.

Of course, one of the problems is that all those princess dresses are too small for her now. But I also think that she doesn’t want to just be a character that has already be defined. She wants to be creative and dress up as someone new.

So here are some ways I have found to keep Audrey engaged in the fun and creativity of dressing up:

Think outside the dress-up box
One time, I found two fabulous dresses at Old Navy on super-super clearance. They are velvet–one is deep red and the other bronze and the two older girls love to wear them. You could also scout out thrift stores after Prom season or drag out those old bridesmaid dresses that you swore you were going to wear again.

Accessorize!
Accessories fit anyone. Think about sunglasses, costume jewelry that your Grandma left you, aprons, old shoes and purses. These are also great to get at thrift stores.

Pieces instead of full dresses
Instead of limiting yourself to full outfits, feel free to grab pieces that catch your eye. I bought a couple of glittery tops at a yard sale this spring. You will be surprised at the combinations the kids come up with when there are separates in the ol’ trunk. (Especially if you have a four-year-old!)

Suggest a theme
While this is never a problem for Sydney and her friends, sometimes Audrey and Georgia need a little nudge to get interested in dressing up. Suggest a fashion show, a rock concert, or a musical. Sometimes the older kids will have fun putting on a play for the grown-ups or the younger kids. (Bonus: they will be very busy practicing and bossing each other around and you can get some things done!)

Get other kids involved
Finally, try to start up a game of dress-up when other kids who like creative play are around. When kids see their friends having fun, they will want to get involved, too. This weekend was Audrey’s birthday party and the theme was American Idol. I brought down a laundry basket full of stuff from the dress-up trunk and Audrey’s friends went crazy! They all had a blast and I loved that they were enjoying their childhood just a little longer.

Do your kids play dress-up? How do you encourage their creativity?

In The Costume Trunk, Courtney and her friends discovers the magical world of Paddywhack Lane where all they need is their imagination to have fun. As a member of From Left to Write book club, I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. You can read other members’ posts inspired by The Costume Trunk by Bob Fuller on book club day, July 28 at From Left to Write.

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4 comments to Five ways to keep dress-up fun for older girls

  • Thien-Kim aka Kim

    Those are great tips! Does it come with another girl so my daughter has someone to dress up with? LOL. Her toddler brother is not quite compliant enough for her tastes

  • Joy Weese Moll

    Great ideas! I wanted to add hats — I have a photo of friends and me as young tweens hamming it up with our regular clothes, but some great hats we dug up from somewhere.

  • Mel

    We love dress up around here and even my son who is 10 still gets in on the action. We are lucky and grandmom is a great seamstress so usually one Christmas present is some kind of outfit or dress up. Zoe has really been into wearing my shoes and accessories like scarves, purses, and jewelry too. Great tips to make dress up work for even older kids. I totally agree that watching their imaginations and creativity at work is such a blessing.

  • Thien-Kim aka Kim

    Those are great tips! Does it come with another girl so my daughter has someone to dress up with? LOL. Her toddler brother is not quite compliant enough for her tastes

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