10 items every dress-up box needs

What you need for a rockin' dress-up box for kids.
What you need for a rockin' dress-up box for kids. Photo: Getty

Playing dress-ups is probably one of the best childhood activities, because the possibilities are always endless.

A well-stocked dress-up box will contain a vast array of quirky, oversized clothing that can be turned into any outfit or scenario imaginable.

But don’t worry if you don’t have much, there are only a few items that you really need to get you kids’ creative juices flowing and make for hours of entertainment.

You don’t have to spend much money setting one up, and most of these items can be found in your own wardrobe (or the wardrobe of generous friends and relatives).

1. Scarves 

Scarves are number one because they are the most versatile dress-up item, and can be turned into basically anything.

The more shapes, lengths and different fabric types you can get your hands on the better. With scarves and dress-ups, more is more.

The big plus with scarves is most households have way too many, and they can be bought for next-to-nothing at second hand shops in all sorts of funky patterns and colours.


Anything from an oversized woollen scarf to delicate satin ones work well, as they can be used as belts, turbans, skirts, bandages, and a myriad of other things.

2. Skirts

Skirts are another versatile dress-up box number, thanks to the variety of styles and lengths around.

They are easily turned into dresses (with the help of a scarf as a belt) and can also be found in a number of funky colours and fabrics.

For bonus points: it’s worth getting a tutu. Yes, even if you have boys. They’re bound to have girl friends around at some point, and there are plenty of uses even boys can find for bunches of tulle.

3. A white shirt

Pirates, scientists, doctors, and explorers are just a few of the costumes kids can create with a white shirt and the aid of a few other bits and pieces.

If you have more shirts, that’s great. But an oversized plain white shirt would make an excellent start.

4. Shoes

One pair of not-too-high high heels and an old pair of boots will go a long way.

If kids wanted to wear ordinary shoes they’d wear their own, so make the dress-up shoe collection as fun and ‘grown up’ as possible.

5. Dresses

Retro or vintage dresses make the best dress-ups, so raid your relatives cupboards (or your own) for some truly amazing treasures.

Boys will wear them too because they can create all sorts of outfits with them - they also make great capes.

6. Hats

A good hat can make or break a dress-up outfit, and you can buy them, find them, or make your own.

Fake construction hats can be bought cheaply, as can plastic tiaras. Other types of headwear can be found around the house, including beanies, caps and old akubras.

You can decorate old headbands with fabric or flowers to create interesting headdresses and feathers can turn an old broad brimmed school hat into a pirate’s hat in no time.

7. Bags

Dress-up bags can have all sorts of uses, and you might have a number of usable ones sitting around home already.

Old backpacks are great for holding an explorer's treasure or for making a jet pack, and handbags finish any ‘grown-up’ lady’s outfit perfectly.

8. Make up 

Make up or face paint can be scary to unleash on your children unsupervised, but as long as the products are non toxic and the kids are old enough you should be fine - though perhaps outdoor application is best.

All you need is a cheap lipstick for any aspiring princess or lady, and face paint would be perfect for finishing the superhero look.

9. Gloves

Gardening gloves, rubber gloves, fancy gloves, or woollen gloves. These are all perfect dress-up box items that can be used for a thousand different outfits.

10. Glasses

Nothing says cool dress-ups like a pair of old, oversized sunglasses.

If you have plenty of old pairs lying around, you can even take the lenses out of a pair or two to create fake glasses.

Old goggles can make a good dress-up addition, and if you have any novelty ones lying around (from a new year’s celebration long ago, perhaps) they would also be a great asset.