Dressing up is a wonderful part of being a child. Whether it be a special occasion such as World Book Day, Hallowe’en and a fancy dress birthday party, or simply everyday imaginative play, children have lots of fun dressing up.
So, what makes a good dressing up costume for kids?
As a mum of 4, I loved seeing how much they enjoyed sparking their imaginations through dressing up.
I also learnt that dressing up is even more fun and enjoyable for children when the costume ticks a number of important boxes.
I applied the same principles to my children’s dressing up costumes as I did to choosing their everyday clothing and, in turn, to designing and making the dressing up outfits for Another World Costumes.
Here are the qualities I looked for in their clothing:
Just as with everyday clothes we buy for our children, we choose clothes which:
- are comfortable
- are suitable for the time of year and weather
- they like and want to wear
- are easy to get on and take off
- are great to play in
In short, we dress children in what we consider to be child-friendly.
Labels, seams, restricting designs and comfortable fabric
Most of us have experienced wearing uncomfortable clothing (especially footwear!).
From scratchy labels and seams to stiff collars and cuffs or shoes which rub. By the end of the day, we can’t wait to change into something comfy.
For me, this usually means soft fabrics, comfortable seams which allow me to move freely.
It is the same when designing and making my dressing up costumes, I use soft fabrics and line them for extra comfort.
The lining covers the seams and any elastic. This means they aren’t scratchy and will last longer – always a bonus!
Another factor when thinking about comfort is clothing which is suitable temperature-wise.
I’m a fan of layering so particularly love garments like cardigans which I can put on or take off according to how hot or cold it is!
Lots of children’s costumes are animal characters, made of fur fabric.
Unsurprising given children’s affinity with animals and the many children’s books with wonderful animal characters.
Fur fabric is, however, hot in summer.
It’s also hot when it’s not summer, if children are running and dancing around indoors at a party or jumping in a ball pool at soft play.
Another World’s capes and tabards are great for providing the flexibility of being able to be worn with warmer or cooler clothes underneath, as well as with the option of taking the costume off easily if it’s simply too hot.
Easy to self dress and practical to play in
Choose costumes which are easy to put on and take off.
With baby dressing up outfits, make sure they have popper fasteners to allow for easy nappy changes.
When toilet training, think about costumes which are easy to take off quickly.
With hindsight, the Dalmatian costume I made, also wasn’t easy for my son to take off by himself. This meant it wasn’t ideal or practical, particularly when going to the toilet during the school day.
Costumes which are easy to put on and take off encourages self dressing. This gives children ownership of what they wear.
Costumes which can be worn on top of everyday clothing are great for children as they often change their minds about what they want to wear or suddenly decide they’ve had enough of dressing up!
If they become too hot then they can simply take the costume off or wear less underneath. If they are too cold, they can pop more clothes on underneath.
Costumes should also be great to play in so children can fully immerse themselves in their play!
My costumes are all worn over everyday clothing, easy to wear and simply fasten with Velcro.
What do they like and want to wear?
There’s nothing more wonderful than seeing a child in their element whilst wearing their costume.
Children have a strong idea of what they like so, as a parent, I am led by that.
It’s great when children have a sense of ownership over what they wear and play in.
Children need to be drawn to a costume and want to wear it.
When I was planning the designs for Another World Costumes, I was fortunate to work with my children’s primary school.
I talked to the children about what they liked and didn’t like.
I discovered bright and bold colours, tactile fabrics interesting details were important because it affected how the children felt when wearing the costumes.
They really notice the little details! I used these insights to inform my designs and understand what makes a good dressing up costume for kids.
My children had a selection of well made costumes which they wore again and again.
For World Book Day, we made simple props to go with a costume. Different props with the same costume could create different characters. It was a great way of making the most of each outfit.
Children put costumes through their paces so I found cheaper outfits ended up being false economy.
They were in no condition to be passed on to younger children or donated to their school.
Using well made and durable costumes is also better for the environment.
Costumes are usually made of manmade fabrics because they must comply with strict flammability regulations which are designed to keep children safe during play.
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