When They Grow Up: Careers & Occupations Dress-Up Ideas

What does your child want to be when they grow up? Do they want a job that lets them help other people, like a doctor or police officer, or do they want to go on fantastic adventures, like an astronaut or explorer?

There’s no time like the present for a little pretend play! Here are our favorite ideas for different occupations-themed dress-up and costumes. You’ll find a quick costume guide for each one, as well as a few tips for extra accessories and activities to do with your child. Keep reading to find out more.

Cowboy, Cowgirl, and Sheriff Dress-Up and Costume Ideas

Cowboy, cowgirl, and Western costume ideas and accessories for kids

Time to giddyup! Whether your little one wants to be a cowboy or cowgirl on an endless adventure across the old West, or a sheriff that bravely protects the townspeople from bad guys, Western-themed costumes for kids are tons of fun. Our new cowboy dress-up kit has the complete suite of costume accessories that every Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill needs to play their favorite character. Cowboy hats, sheriff badges, vests, chaps, and toy handcuffs are all included. This cowboy/cowgirl costume with plenty of cow print and faux-leather flair is another great way to get the look, and cowboy boots are simply a must.

To supplement your child’s cowboy or cowgirl costume with items from home, consider basic items like bandanas and old leather belts. Remember: when it comes to dressing up, the bigger the buckle, the better the belt. Worn jeans and plain-colored shirts are perfect, too.

As for activity ideas, a lassoing contest is a great one. Make your own DIY lasso with a length of rope from the hardware store, and try to toss it around a few targets. Might we suggest the classic pony on a stick? Children can also have Western-style showdowns with squirt guns (outside, please). Stand back-to-back, walk 10 paces, turn, and shoot. There are no winners or losers for this one; it’s just a fun way to spend some time.

Police Officer Dress-Up and Costume Ideas


Lots of kids want to be police officers when they grow up, and police officer costumes and dress-up items ought to be a staple of every playroom. This children’s police officer costume comes with the full police uniform and police hat, and this version includes a cute dress and some accessories. Pair either one with some black shoes and sunglasses, and you’re good to go.

It doesn’t take a full costume to bring out imagination, though. Any child can pretend to be a police officer with the right accessories. A black T-shirt and a simple police vest is one way to do it. Also, what would an officer be without their shiny silver badge or their trusty flashlight? All of these items and more can be found in this police accessory kit, too.

To create a fun DIY activity for your kids that matches this costume theme, design a “scene of the crime,” complete with evidence and clues. Use a series of hidden hints and riddles that guide the children around the house to the location of the next clue.

Firefighter Dress-Up and Costume Ideas

As long as we’re still on the topic of real-world heroes, firefighter costumes are another great costume theme when it comes to dressing up. Our fireman accessory dress up kit includes all the essential tools that no fire chief should be without: a gas mask to avoid smoke, an axe for breaking down barriers, and a walkie talkie for communication with his or her fellow firefighters.

Of course, firemen need more than a few accessories to fight fires in real life, so your child ought to have the real deal, too.  This firefighter costume has an absolutely adorable amount of detail, from the real metal buckles on the jacket and pants, to the fireman helmet. Cap everything off with a portable fire hose – yes, it really shoots real water!

The backpack water gun can also be used for some fun backyard activities. Cut out some flame-shaped targets from pieces of cardboard or foam board, and spray paint them to look like real fire. Alternatively, you can just as well use stacks of red and yellow cups, or a few empty plastic bottles and jugs. Then, let your little firefighters try to knock them down with their super-soaking extinguisher.

Pretend play with firefighter dress-up can also be a great opportunity to teach your children about fire safety.

Astronaut Dress-Up and Costume Ideas


As a certain spaceman once famously said, “To infinity… and beyond!” That’s exactly where your child will be taken by their imagination when they dress up with astronaut accessories and costumes. Suddenly, the entire galaxy is within arm’s reach (even if their maiden voyage is just across the backyard).

For boys and girls that really want the authentic astronaut experience, this shuttle commander costume and orange flight suit look just like what real astronauts wear. Gloves, space boots, and space helmets keep them safe during space walks at the station, and this jetpack is perfect for zipping around. Those accessories are also all officially licensed by NASA, the Neat & Awesome Space Administration.

There’s even a super-soaking “space blaster” similar to the firefighter’s tool we showed off above, only this one is made for fighting aliens instead of fires. Just because water instantly boils in the vacuum of space doesn’t mean it’s not the most fun idea for a toy ever. Besides, the rules of the real world don’t always apply when it comes to pretend play.

Explorer Dress-Up and Costume Ideas



For those that prefer to keep their adventures on Earth instead of across the solar system, explorer dress-up is the way to go. There are always new things to learn and new adventures to be had. The included vest has plenty of pockets for storing important tools, and a pith helmet keeps the sun at bay. Toy binoculars provide a brand new perspective.

Your little adventurers should gear up with some other items before setting out, though. Notepads and pencils are needed for taking important field notes, and magnifying glasses will surely come in handy for examining objects up close. Old road maps or travel guides can be re-purposed as fun costume accessories (they don’t need to be for an exotic or faraway locale; it’s enough of an adventure trying to re-fold those things). A couple of butterfly nets from your local nature store go with the look, and they’ll also provide a fun activity for the park.

The classic scavenger hunt is another great game to play with little explorers. Before heading out to your destination, make a list of different things to find. This can include anything from different types of animals or plants, to certain landmarks. Try to discover as much as you can!

Chef Dress-Up and Costume Ideas



Treat your aspiring master chef to a smorgasbord of imagination – our new chef dress-up kit has everything that your child needs to become the next great expert in the culinary arts. Aside from the white chef’s jacket and classic chef hat, plenty of play cookware and a pair of oven mitts is also included.

Sometimes, the best way to play is with the real thing, though. Thrift stores are a great place to look to furnish a play kitchen, since there are always plenty of possibilities. Things like old wooden spoons, spatulas, and other non-metal utensils and cooking tools make perfectly safe pretend props. You also might be able to find a few bandanas or neck scarves, which are great for chef costumes, too.

Once your costumes and play area are all set up, why not decorate some cookies or cupcakes? That also makes a great activity idea if you’re planning a birthday party. Or, research some fun and healthy snack recipes and make them with your child.

Construction Worker Dress-Up and Costume Ideas


There’s nothing more fun than making something with your own two hands, so here’s a construction worker costume kit to help you and your child get started. An orange safety vest, a plastic hard hat, a pair of goggles, and a tool belt with toy tools are all inside.

There are lots of ways to build upon construction costumes with items you already have, too. Is there a workshop for the grown-ups in the household? Let your little one add some real (safe) pieces of equipment to their costume, like a pair of work gloves or a tape measure, for example. If you have a bunch of empty boxes laying around, use them to construct awesome forts and other structures.

Here’s another construction activity idea for kids. Lots of craft stores have basic building kits with materials and easy instructions on how to make birdhouses and other simple projects. Why not make something together? That way, your child won’t just be pretending to be a construction worker. They’ll really be building something, too.

Veterinarian and Doctor Dress-Up and Costume Ideas


Vets and doctors might look after different types of patients, but both occupations are all about helping others feel better. This veterinarian dress-up kit features a scrubs with matching mask, a medical bag full of play equipment, and a plush puppy. This doctor costume kit for kids features a white coat and is great for those who can’t wait to head for med school after grade school lets out.

Every doctor (for pets or for people) needs the right tools, too. Toy stethoscopes are great for checking up on stuffed animals to see what’s wrong. You can also add in your own props. Band-aids are 100% necessary for making all sorts of ailments all better, and you can even make an easy DIY doctor bag by creating a Red Cross symbol on a black bag with some tape. Hot water bottles and ice packs are two other things that you might already have around the house that complement this dress up idea wonderfully.



If you liked this post and want to see more like it, let us know what kind of costume and dress-up ideas for kids we should talk about next. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and on Twitter, and check out our Pinterest boards for more costume ideas, too.


Click here to shop all Careers and Occupations Dress-Up for Kids on Costume Express.

Author: Walter Bloch

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