Pioneer Costumes for Kids

dress up image by Lisa Eastman from

Pioneer costumes are a great way for children to learn more about a historical time period while having fun playing "dress up." Whether for a Halloween costume or a rainy afternoon activity, discover how to create pioneer costumes for kids at home with items you probably already have in cupboards and closets.

Pioneer Costumes for Girls

Pioneer girls wore outfits very similar to those their mothers wore. Girls' dresses tended to be shorter, though still below the knees, and sometimes had short sleeves. Colorful fabrics and prints such as calico were popular. To recreate these styles at home, use a long dress for the main part of your costume. If you don't have a dress, a plain shirt with a full skirt can also be used. Wear several full skirts or slips underneath as petticoats to add volume for a more authentic look. A full or half apron is worn over the dress. You can make a simple apron by sewing or pinning ribbons to the top edges of a tea towel and tying the towel around your waist. Closed-toed shoes complete the look.

Pioneer Costumes for Boys

Boys' clothing is almost identical to that of pioneer men. Boys may wear knickers or trousers with button-down or plain shirts with collars. A pair of khakis and an oversized white shirt are a good start for this look. Boys also wore vests or jackets when out in public. Make a simple vest from a large brown paper grocery bag by slitting it up the front, cutting neck and arm holes, and then trimming it to the shape desired. You can also punch holes into the front and lace a bit of ribbon through them for a closed vest. Boys should wear work boots or hiking boots to finish the costume.


Accessories are the key to any look, and especially so in period costume. Boys can add belts or suspenders to their costumes for a more authentic pioneer look. Try adding a hat as well, such as a straw or felt hat or even a newsboy cap. Girls wore bonnets that tied under the chin, as well as scarves and crocheted collars. If you don't have access to a bonnet, a colorful square scarf, folded on the diagonal, makes a good substitute.