Playing dress up is a popular pastime for many children. Having costumes to act out specific roles in helps to make the fantasy seem more real and, thereby, strengthen one’s power of imagination—which is a very useful cognitive tool. There are numerous companies on the market that produce costumes. Most, like Rubies, focus on Halloween outfits but numerous establishments aim to make costumes for children to use as role-play props all year long and several of these organizations have recently been the center of awards for the trending costume-play craze. In the Fall of 2016, a number of new wares were released that aim to promote imaginative role play.
Aeromax is a company that designs gender neutral dress-up for ages three and twelve. In late November of 2016, their newly released Robotic Engineer Shirt and Robot Helmet earned two “2016 Holiday Seals of Approval” courtesy of the The National Parenting Center. The company also offers smaller sizes for toddlers and adult sizes so parents can engage in creative roll play with their children. Both the Robotic Engineer shirt and Robot Helmet include graphic details such as a gear pattern on the back and the helmet has a handy movable visor. This costume is markedly less detailed than the offerings in Aeromax’s popular “Get Real Gear” line. Instead, the “My 1st Career Gear” line including the Robotic Engineer shirt is meant to be worn by children 3-6-year-old on top of their clothes for a quick change at play time.
Great Pretenders is another company that is well-known for their detailed outfits for children and one of their most popular lines is their machine-washable “reversible” series of capes for both boys and girls. There are presently over thirty-five products in Great Pretender’s “reversible” series including apron dresses, masks, tunics, shirts and more. One of their latest offerings for girls is a “Reversible Princess Cape” that is magenta on one side and light pink on the other. The cape is long, has a hood and is made of soft stain fabric that is shiny and high-quality and easy to open and close via a Velcro clasp. “The Spider Bat Cape is very popular with boys,” said Marketing Director Dee Stitzel. “We are definitely going to be expanding the line of innovative reversible costumes in the near future.”
Just Pretend Kids is another creator of richly detailed outfits for children. A division of Wyla, a producer of specialty fabrics such as trims and laces, the company offers more than 300 items. This year’s latest gown releases — the “Court Empress” and “Vampire Princess” — are especially incredible in regards to detail and fabrication. “One of the driving principles behind our designs is to create products that foster a child’s own imagination,” said Sean Patrick Burgess, Director of Marketing for Just Pretend Kids. “We want to help them be imaginative and create their own story while wearing comfortable costumes. Ideas come from everywhere.”
Theatrical Toys is yet another brand that goes out of their way to ensure that children use outfits in role playing games. The startup company produces two lines: “Props in a Box” and “Props in a Bag” that feature characters such as pirates and chefs that are supposed to engage children’s natural ability to tell stories. “Our products focus on imaginative play,” said Ross Garner, the COO of Theatric Toys. “From alien-catching fisherman to pirates seeking dinosaur eggs, we want kids to be as creative as possible.” Theatrical Toys also offers the “Props in a Box Movie Maker App” that enables kids to record their plays and share them on social media.
Engaging in creative playtime such as role-playing enhanced by costumes, is a key way to strengthen cognition and the ability to think outside-the-box. These are important life skills that are valued throughout one’s life and should be fostered from an early age. Anyone who has a child who likes to play dress up and/or has acting aspirations will certainly have a number of outfit options to choose from as the holiday season approaches.