5 Essentials for School Dress-Up Days + 3 Ways to Style Each One!


Students participating in school dress-up days can promote school spirit and build positive feelings about attending school. At the same time, it can feel overwhelming for parents to come up with ideas for each day. And who has time for yet another Target run? To help you take the guesswork out of this fun tradition, here are 5 essential pieces for school dress-up days and multiple ways to style each one.

Plaid Flannel Shirt

These are easy to find in stores, especially in the fall and winter, but here’s an option available year-round.

Essentials for school dress up days

  1. Dress like a Farmer: Add overalls and a bandana tied around the neck to complete the look.
  2. Dress like a Cowgirl: Jeans, boots, and a cowboy hat will turn this top into a finished cowgirl outfit.
  3. 90s Day: A plaid flannel tied around the waist is a key look from this decade. Try it styled with jeans and accessories like a choker, bucket hat, or butterfly clips.

Hawaiian Shirt

These will pop up in stores in late spring and summer, but you can also grab a variety of colors and styles online.

Essentials for school dress up days

  1. Beach/Luau Day: Add a lei and a pair of sandals for a cute look for the next beach or Hawaiian Day.
  2. Tacky Tourist Day: Pair the same shirt with khaki shorts and socks with sandals. Don’t forget the binoculars!
  3. Crazy Patterns/Mix & Match Day: Polka dot bottoms and striped socks clash perfectly with the bright floral pattern of the shirt.

Leopard Print Skirt

We snagged ours on sale at Walmart, but here’s another option.

Essentials for school dress up days

  1. Dress like a Rockstar: Add a sequined top and a denim jacket to totally rock this look!
  2. Wild About/Dress like an Animal Day: Pair the skirt with a similar print top or an animal graphic tee to look wonderfully wild.
  3. 80s Day: Channel your inner Material Girl by styling this skirt with a black top, faux pearl necklaces, and a side ponytail. Bonus points for crimped hair!

Lab Coat

Our school has had many career-oriented dress-up days this year to promote career exploration. This lab coat was useful to us in so many ways–it’s all about accessorizing!

Essentials for school dress up days

  1. Dress like a Veterinarian: Add a play stethoscope and a stuffed dog or cat as the next patient.
  2. Dress like a Dentist: A toothbrush and tube of toothpaste peeking out of the pocket easily turn this into a dentist’s coat.
  3. Dress like a Scientist: Tie hair up in a bun, then add safety glasses and a clipboard for jotting down important scientific data.

Neon Vest

We found ours at Target during the Halloween season. Here’s another option available now.

Essentials for school dress up days

  1. Dress like a Construction Worker: Slip the vest on over a white tee and jeans and complete the look with a plastic hard hat.
  2. Dress like a Crossing Guard: The vest can be slipped on over any outfit; just add a homemade stop sign as the final touch.
  3. Neon Day: Pair this vest with tall neon socks for a look as bright as the sun!

Bonus: Essential Accessories

Since we all know accessories can make or break an outfit, here are a few versatile pieces to add to your dress-up day closet.

  1. Glasses: Grab an inexpensive pair that can help complete the look for Dress like a Nerd Day or the 100th day of school (if students dress like 100-year-olds!).
  2. Rainbow Tie Dye Socks: These are perfect for Crazy Sock Day or pair them with a groovy outfit for 70s Day.
  3. Bandanas: These are a low-cost option available in a wide variety of colors and prints. Try them on days when students need to wear a specific color or grab two of the same pattern for your child and a friend to wear on Twin Day!

And remember, dress-up isn’t just for school. There are also social and emotional benefits for kids to play dress-up. So each time you invest in one of these essentials, you are investing in your kids’ early childhood development, too.

Did we miss any of your dress-up day faves? What essentials would you add to this list?

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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