Paying for Quality of Princess Dress-up Dresses?

Updated on April 24, 2013
J.S. asks from Kalamazoo, MI
21 answers

My girls' birthdays are coming up (3 yo and 5 yo), and they're both asking for princess dress-up items. How much does the quality differ in princess dresses from Disney store (aka $35-$45 each) versus bought at Target/Kohl's ($20). Obviously the cheaper ones won't be as nice, but could they be sufficient for daily indoor play, or just I fork over the extra money for the nicer ones?

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answers from Dallas on

I have found Disney costumes as a rule are better quality. My son got a power ranger one years ago and it was the best made one we've ever had.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would rather hit the thrift stores and see what they have, or craigslist, or something. At that age, they probably wouldn't care if it's new or not. And the cheaper ones may be as nice, they just won't be the licensed versions where you're paying for the name Disney.

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answers from Rochester on

I don't necessarily equate Disney with quality....just price. I love Disney movies (retro)...but wouldn't pay that much just to have a name tacked on.

Around Halloween, my mom found princess dresses at Cracker Barrel that are better quality than the Disney dresses by far...and more authentically "princess." Perhaps check there!

Also, I have found beautiful ball gown style dresses at Hispanic clothing shops for around the 30-40 dollar range and they honestly look SO MUCH nicer than a Disney princess dress...again, they just look more like a real princess and less like a Halloween costume.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I wouldn't invest too much in them, but the Target/Kohl's versions aren't overly "cheap". I have found pretty good dress up clothing at Toys R Us as well- keep an eye out for sales.

One mom on here had a genius idea and I WILL be copying it this year... she went to the Halloween stores the day of and day after Halloween and bought tons of dress up gear for her kids at clearance prices. Some was then wrapped up for Christmas and some for birthdays... other pieces kept to give as gifts to other children.

Dress up is such a great way for children to play and expand their imaginations, so don't hesitate to pick up "non-set" items as well. Costume jewelry... dollar store flowers... old bridesmaid dresses... Goodwill veils... all make for excellent dress up stuff!

I bought a plain "treasure box" from Michaels on clearance and decorated it with jewels and my niece's name, flowers, etc. I filled it with all kinds of items, none of which came as a set and gave it to her for her birthday last year. She LOVES it and you wouldn't believe the combos she has come up with! We all add to it as we come across things.

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answers from Austin on

Our daughter was always into dress up, she lived in them for years. She was excellent about caring for them too. We had a very large Container for them to be placed in..

I purchased best quality. Sometimes it was Disney, sometimes other companies.

Sometimes we found great dress up during Halloween in the upscale children stores. I would hide them for Christmas gifts.

My mom found some at garage sales. and my mother in law is an amazing seamstress and would make some of them. Our daughter would make drawings and go to the fabric store with her.

Our daughter is now 22 and our nieces little step sister, is still using some of those dress up clothes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

If you can afford it I highly recommend the ones from Disney Store. They are made more like clothes as opposed to throw away, one-time-use like most cheaper dress up clothes are.
My daughter has an Alice in Wonderland dress that we bought her from Disneyland. Since she was on the cusp of sizes and they didn't make it in her current size at the time anyway we bought the size bigger than what she was at the time. She's now had it for 2 years. She's worn it for 2 Halloweens in a row, she's worn it at least 5 times to Disneyland's Halloween parties and a couple times just because she could and wanted to on trips to Disneyland. It gets treated like any other dress in her closet. It still looks brand new! I wash it in cold water and dry it on low and it holds up. She's about to finally outgrow it and she's already asking for the next size up and it's pretty safe to say she's getting the next size up the next time we go to Disneyland.
All the other cheaper dress up clothes are thrashed and looked like tattered rags. The material runs so fast!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Shop locally. I have a friend here who HAND sews and sells princess dresses - for $20. At her "small business Saturday" sales, I've gotten several for nieces for $5. Her website appears to be down today, but it's "Flutterby Designs LLC" if you want to look. Of course, by the time you pay shipping, you might be back to $35 or so. Etsy is good for hand-made as well.

Personally, I'd also check Craigslist, and ebay. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I bought the best quality that I could find at the time, sometimes Disney, sometimes not. We do have a lot of Disney dresses that still look great and daughter is 18 now. She loved them. We were at Disney a lot and she always got 1 or 2 when we were there... the ones we bought at Disneyworld held up the best and still look new.

I also found some pretty good quality ones from Lillian Vernon.

Good luck and enjoy... It was such a fun time for us when our daughter was growing up!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi J.
If ur girls r like mine and don't like plasticky things which make them itchy then do look up " little dressup shop" on line. They make princess dress up outfits in machine washable materials which are soft. Get customer service as well. I get my girls stuff from them and have been very happy.
Good luck finding what u are looking for and enjoy. :))



answers from Seattle on

I bought a Rapunzel costume on sale from the online Disney Store. It was much much nicer than the ones on sale at Target.

I don't think I'd ever pay full price, though. My girls have lots of cheaper princess outfits that they love and wear all the time. Some Disney specific and some generic. Frankly, the expensive Disney store costume doesn't get worn much. (My fault. I have it hung up in the closet instead of in the trunk with all of the others.)

I'd say go for the cheaper option.



answers from San Francisco on

The Target ones are perfect for playing dress-up. My GD has a ton of them and they have lasted extremely well considering we've had them for 4+ years and they have been handed down to the next GD in line and are still in great shape. I would not waste my money buying the more expensive ones. Your daughters won't know the difference.


answers from Milwaukee on

The Disney costumes are very well made and super pretty. Targets are ho hum but will hold up for a bit. Walmarts are junk. I always check Craigslist for them at Halloween time and get a few for dress up.



answers from Washington DC on

Target and Toys R Us sell Disney dresses for around $20 that are just like the ones at the Disney Store.



answers from New York on

We also have two girls and we bought both disney and other. The other brands didn't hold up as well. With 2 girls and all their friends, the dresses got a lot of wear... So they were worth it but I think a mix is not a bad way to go. I also bought the disney ones a bit big so they could grow into them, thereby makign them last longer. The dresses that fell apart after years of wear were the nondisney. But they worked! Just not as long. That's why I think a mix is the best way to go. And my girls and their friends would really get into a character vs just wanted a generic princess dress sometimes.



answers from Charleston on

You've gotten great responses, but keep this in mind for next year. The day after Halloween, all costumes are usually marked down 50-75% off. Go scour your local Target & Walmart stores November 1st to get the best deals on dress up clothes of any kind! (And they usually have princess costumes up the wazoo!)



answers from Chicago on

We always went to the thrift stores, secondhand shops and garage sales and bought used party dresses. We had about 4 nice party dresses that I found at various garage sales and I don't think I paid over $8 for all 4! Sometimes they have small rips or stains but we don't care because it's just for play. My daughter loved playing bride in a nice white communion dress I got for 50 cents! It had a small tear in the back on the bottom which I fixed with that iron-on patch stuff. She wore that thing until she couldn't squeeze her little body in it anymore :)

My daughter did have one Tinkerbell costume FROM Disney and it held up amazingly well! That being said, I'd never pay that kind of money for a play dress.

We've also found Easter dresses on clearance for $8, but even that was a bit much for my cheap taste! LOL!



answers from Los Angeles on

Personally, I buy the cheap ones because we aren't trying to impress anybody, they are just playing in them. They don't wash well though. And they don't hold up well in the long run. I can see why one might splurge for the nicer ones if you have a girl who is really into dress up and will treat them well.



answers from Chicago on

Before you buy from Disney or target check out your local thrift stores. I have purchased princess in both new with tags and like new for less than $10



answers from Allentown on

We have had both and yes the Disney ones are better quality and yes they hold up better, but the kids don't mind the cheaper ones either, even with rips or tears in them. If you have the money and want to buy disney go for it, if you are trying to save the cheap ones will be just fine for dress up play. Just don't make a big deal when they rip or lose a piece. Most kids won't care anyway.



answers from Detroit on

because they are made out of shiny slippery satiny fabric.. all of the dresses are prone to fraying at the seams..

we have had several princess dresses and over time they all fell apart.. of course they are put on and off by small children that are nto careful.

I would not pay a lot of money for the dress... it will be used and abused and will fall apart in time.



answers from Los Angeles on

the ones from target/kohls/walmart fall apart. so not worth the money. the ones on disneystore are really good quality and last well. Right now it looks like they are $10 off online as well. I bought many for my daughter about 5 years ago after halloween and all but one or two are still pretty perfect. You can wash them on the gentle cycle and HANG to dry (do not put tulle in the dryer with hear). or wash in the sink with mild detergent.

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