How Capes and Costumes Inspire Imaginative Play

by Susan Berns

At Fairy Finery, we are dedicated to nurturing the imagination and magic that live in young children through beautiful dress-up clothes that open the door to hours of creative playtime: play that is unstructured, open-ended, imaginative, carefree, and fun.

Why is imaginative play so important? And how do capes and costumes help?


Fairy Finery supports the belief of Waldorf education that imaginative play is the key to creative thinking later in life. In imaginative play, children play freely, using their imagination to guide them, usually without adult involvement.

Children love to create stories with toys, costumes, or props. They act out scenes from home, the community, and from relationships they encounter in their daily life: playing house, playing teacher or doctor.

Even when they are playing in fantasy worlds (like going to the moon, or pretending to be a dog), these scenes also mimic the world they are most familiar with. When children bring toys into this play, the toys are merely vehicles for the imagination, not the destination. They are not the focus of the play, but rather a tool to be powered by the child’s creativity. 

Boys Robin Hood Costume Cape Hat Dress Up Play


Imaginative, open-ended play strengthens a child’s creativity. Waldorf education values creativity as a critical life skill for all adults, not just for artists.

Throughout our lives, we rely on our creative problem-solving skills as we navigate the complexities of relationships, life and work. Imaginative play develops a child’s creativity as they engage their imagination to invent the story-line of the play. Whether the child is recreating a memorable experience from earlier in the week, taking an adventure to outer space, or pretending to be a fairy, the child engages their imagination to tell the story, and to navigate their way through it.

Playing freely in this way also develops a child’s sense of identity. Imaginative play allows the child to explore who they are and the world around them. When they play “family,” children try on the roles of parents, which allows them to imagine the world from a perspective of an age or a gender different than their own. Playing professional roles like doctor or teacher allows children to explore the kinds of jobs that they see around them-- and to learn what about those roles appeals to them as they develop their identity.

At Fairy Finery, we believe that imaginative play has psycho-social benefits for children as well. It helps them process events in their lives and it develops empathy for other people by stepping into their shoes. For example, imagine a child whose sibling had a bad fall the day before. The child may reenact the scene playing house or playing doctor. They may take the role of the person they saw get injured, or they may act the role of the adult who came in and helped the sibling to safety. This kind of role-play teaches children empathy for people different than them, allowing them to take a walk in someone else’s shoes.

When dress-up clothes are incorporated into imaginative play, it can help children step into particular roles such as doctor, chef, or queen, or perhaps historical, literary or imaginary characters.  

Girls Fairy Costume Skirt Wings Pink Dress Up Imaginative Play

Dress-up is also a natural way for children to explore gender identity and gender expression. All children are observing female and male gender roles in society and figuring out where they fit in. Dressing up allows them to explore what it means to be traditionally masculine or feminine. This is important for all children as they understand how they fit in the world. It is especially important for children who may be figuring out that their gender identity is different than the one they were assigned at birth.


Slipping into dress-up clothes is an easy way for kids to slip into imaginative play. At Fairy Finery, we specialize in quality playwear for imaginative play. Our beautiful capes and hats invite children to different make-believe adventures.

A child in the middle of the city can don a woodsy cape and hat, becoming Robin Hood and set off on to adventures of bravery in the woods! Another child puts on a crown and robe, and begins to imagine how they would rule the world, exploring what kind of leader they could be, perhaps rewriting some of the family rules more to their liking!

Dress-up play with capes is a great way to invite your child to imaginative play that develops their imagination and creativity, teaching them more about themselves and the world around them.

Explore our capes and other dress-up finery at!

Susan Berns is the founder and owner of Fairy Finery

Fairy Finery has been making heirloom-quality dress-up costumes and accessories for children since 1997 in their studio in the USA. Discover the world of imaginative play with capes, hats, dresses, fairy wings, and adventure costumes that will meet the criteria of even the most discriminating fairy godparents!

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