Playing dress-up for grown-ups

June 21, 2020

Written By

Tabitha Dumas

The benefits of children playing dress-up are immense (I know this partly because I was searching Pinterest for “grown-up dress-up” to no avail. I’m going to have to create my own images!) but why stop just because you “grow up?” Just this afternoon I received a reply from my most recent Discover Your Signature Color recipient that said, “Thank you so much for all this wonderful information! I can’t wait to look through my closet and play dress-up!” I’ve talked about playing dress-up for grown-ups many times on social media and at workshops (one of my favorite hashtags to use is #neverstopplayingdressup) but I’ve never written about it so here we go!

Did you play dress-up as a little girl?

I sure did and now Kate does, too. This was for her first birthday photo shoot. Gotta teach ’em young!

Playing dress-up for grown-ups by Tabitha Dumas Signature Color Style

Kate’s first birthday shoot by Phileo Photography, Gilbert, AZ.

Your dress-up may have involved princess costumes, plastic heeled shoes and pretend makeup or it may have been in your mom or grandmother’s closet, trying on her lace dress, too-big high heels and draping yourself in her pearls and crystals. How fun is this?!?

The items didn’t have to “go together,” you just had to feel good wearing them!

Maybe you found yourself playing dress-up recently to figure out what to wear for a banquet or wedding.

No matter your age, it’s fun to try on different shoes or jewelry options and admire yourself in the mirror! Maybe you put on a bright lipstick, fastened a feather clip in your hair or added a gaudy brooch to your jacket. Perhaps you got a wild hair, bought a few things outside of your normal style at a thrift store and had fun mixing the pieces with items you already own.

We should never grow out of experimenting with our style.

So what about playing dress-up for grown-ups? There are four occasions for which I highly recommend playing with your clothes, shoes and accessories.

  1. When you receive your Phoenix Color Analysis from me with your wardrobe color palette! I always suggest to my clients that they get in their closet and PLAY. See what colors appeal to you. Try new combinations. See if you naturally gravitate toward different colors and styles, and reject others. Mix and match your neutrals and colors. Put two different colors in the same color family together (like navy blue and sapphire blue). Have fun!
  2. Any time you buy a new garment or accessory. Take that new blouse into your closet and see how many outfit combinations you can create. Try it with different completer pieces. Look for fun jewelry looks to pull an outfit. Or if you get a new bag or necklace, do the same and see what you can pair it with. The more creative and unexpected, the better. You’re just playing!
  3. If you’re choosing an outfit for a special event. It could be a graduation, a wedding or a job interview but if your image matters and/or you’ll be in a lot of pictures, it’s worth the time to make sure you look coordinated and put-together. Why not play with a new look??
  4. When you clean out your closet. Don’t keep or toss without trying items on! Do you have other pieces to pair it with? Are you comfortable in it? Is it worth the space it takes up?

Unofficially I think it would help when you’re packing for a trip, too. Try it all on to make sure everything will coordinate. Challenge yourself to see how few pieces you can pack that would all mix and match!

A few tips for playing dress-up as a grown-up

Give yourself an afternoon. This is a great time to make sure your belts, shoes, bags, scarves and completer pieces are organized and accessible. You should be able to grab them to jazz up an outfit any time.  Pull out the stuff you tuck away “for special occasions,” too. Remember…

Dress for a special occasion. Treat every day like a special occasion!

Have a spot for your cast-offs. Make yourself a fun drink. Maybe invite a friend over for a play date.


  • start with a couple pieces you normally don’t wear together
  • add a completer piece like a shrug, cardigan or kimono
  • add a belt, scarf or both
  • play with different jewelry looks
  • try a headband or hair clip
  • add more jewelry (rings and bracelets in particular)
  • try wearing the completer piece in a different way–like tie the cardigan around your shoulders or add a belt to the kimono
  • switch the top or bottom for a different option
  • try tucking your top in or untucking it (or a half tuck!)
  • roll up your pants
  • try a few different bags
  • try a hat!
  • add some eye shadow or lipstick
  • play and have fun!

The idea is to let yourself try new looks without any commitment. I bet you’ll be surprised at what you find! Take pictures of any combinations you love and would wear out. Or take some pictures to share with a few people just for fun! Let your inner child play.

Let me know how playing dress-up goes for you! I’d love to see those pictures, too.

Playing dress-up for grown-ups by Tabitha Dumas Signature Color Style


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