Are children's fancy dress outfits too dangerous to wear?

15 May 2015

Fancy-Dress There's a legal loophole concerning children's fancy dress outfits that should worry parents. Basically, thanks to a flaw in the law, fancy dress costumes are classed as toys, rather than clothing.

With this, comes a big safety issue. If you've bought a princess dress for a couple of quid or what have you, then chances are, it hasn't gone through the same safety tests as proper, adult clothes. This legal loophole means a lot of fancy dress outfits are incredibly flammable.

This follows TV presenter Claudia Winkleman, who bought her daughter a witch costume in a local supermarket for "five quid". The costume caught fire while trick-or-treating. Winkleman said: "I was talking to somebody, and then I just heard her scream," Winkleman said. "She just screamed 'Mummy' and I turned round and that was that, she was just on fire."

TV show, Watchdog, looked at the flammability of children's costumes and the results were pretty shocking. In one instance, a princess dress was very much aflame within 10 seconds of catching light from a small flame from a tealight.

It is obvious that children's fancy dress clothing needs to be reclassified, in a bid to make them more safe to be worn. One thing suggested is that fancy dress costumes be put through a more rigorous test, such as the one done on children's nightclothes.

A report has been submitted to the government, which we'll report on when they've responded. Until then, it'd be worth thinking twice before buying any fancy dress outfits for the kids.

If you want to see Watchdog's flammability tests, click here.


  • mark w.
    I just wondered, does Claudia Winkelman just talk like that on the TV, or like just, you know?
  • Stephen M.
    The blame is with the buyers of companies that sell these products. The buyers should be doing the checks and setting their own rules (common sense). EU standards is not enough and not an excuse if none exist. My experience is Buyers do not have the technical knowledge and lack common sense in most cases. All buyers should have technical degrees and better than that there should be a university qualification for Buyers. At the moment buyers seam to think how cheap can I buy it and nothing else, ho maybe commission.

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