I am so excited to finally share this post with you. Building this dress up chest from thrifted and secondhand items has been so much fun, and once I tell you how cheap and easy it is to make, you are going to want to make one, too.
You don’t have to build a secondhand dress up chest, but I find that the best stuff, the cheapest stuff, and sometimes, the most realistic stuff, is found second hand. Additionally, the dress up chest helped me think of ways to repurpose items that I otherwise would donate or send to a landfill. And once my friends and family members heard about this dress up chest I was putting together they came forward with things from their closets to add to the bounty.
The best places to shop for dress up items that are new would be craft stores like Michael’s (they have hats, boas, and headbands), the dollar store (sometimes home to some pretty great finds) and the party supply store. Hear me out on that one! The party supply store has lies, hats, necklaces, sunglasses, and scarves,usually for really cheap. Pop-up Halloween costume stores are great, too–but skip the prepackaged costumes and go straight to the accessories. Wigs, hats, and gloves are a better investment than the costumes themselves, which won’t hold up to constant kid abuse.
Creating a kickass dress up chest is part of my life list, so I can consider this item mission accomplished.
(Poppy isn’t part of the dress up chest. She’s just acting as the showroom model. Thanks, Pops.)
By far, though, your best bet is to troll thrift stores and yard sales. Here are some of my favorite items from the chest:
This is something we call “the minky” because it just looks like a weird pile of brown fur if you can’t see how it’s used. It’s actually a large, wide scarf and it functions as a stole or a shawl. It looks and even feels like luxurious fur, but worry not, animal lovers: it’s actually a strange woven mohair-type yard that was knitted into shape. Strange. My Mom found it while thrifting and picked it up because she knew I was putting a dress up chest together.
My mom also found that black beaded purse and the white kitty hat secondhand and contributed the blue Heidi dress from her childhood as well. My Aunt Debbie added the pink-lined white stole plus these glasses.
The black ninja mask is actually a headsock that I saved from my one and only racing experience, and the gloves and mask were leftover from my Rogue costume and Anthony’s Nightwing costume. You might remember the witch hat from Target’s dollar bin, and the make up brushes we bought after having fun with our cousins. The necklaces were contributed by my mother-in-law, much to Zorro’s chagrin. You might remember the bunny ears? Coworkers gave us those. The wings were found while thrifting.
I saved the glasses from Yo Gabba Gabba Live and laminated them at work. They are still kicking! (Though admittedly a bit worse for wear.) We bought the giant magnifying glass when we visited the Children’s Museum and all the kids that come over just love it. What a great $3 purchase! Isobel calls it her “Lookie Lookie”, but it usually comes out “Wookie Wookie!” Too cute.
That lanyard came from Anthony’s time at Borders. The cat key came from our very interesting time with the White Car. Long ago, before Isobel was even thought of, Anthony and I went on a date to an arcade where we won these Special Police badges and I kept them all this time.
This compass is one of my favorite finds. It’s real and it works and it’s satisfyingly larger than the palm of my hand, making the adventures we have with it extra-epic. It’s a thrift store find.
I bought this sparkle ball at Borders and later I found this stand while thrifting. I don’t know for sure that it’s for a crystal ball, but that was all I could think of when I looked at it.
Anthony found the bag with a moon on it while thrifting and thought it would make a great ‘magic pouch.’ This beaded clutch is one of Isobel’s favorite things, and also a thrift store score.
We also have a fantastic collection of thrifted dress up hats, which I’ll show you later, and besides that we’re adding to our collection all the time. Whenever we have kids over to play they make a beeline for the dress up chest. It’s one of Kingston’s favorite things to do, and there’s nothing cuter than seeing the kids all dressed up. If you are thinking about giving this a go, I’d like to hearitly recommend it and would love to see pictures of what you find! Link back here in the comments so we can all see. Happy hunting!