Guest Post – Cosplay 101

So, again, the lovely ladies over at Starnigh Industries are making some seriously awesome blog posts. So, again, I ganked one of their posts that NEEDED to be shared.


A Beginner’s Guide to Cosplay

So, you want to cosplay? Great! While a great number of my regular readers are fairly well versed in the art of the “costume play”, I’m hoping to accomplish two things here: 1) to bring some new and valid ideas into play and 2) post something that will hopefully help those who are new (or relatively new) to playing dress up. For the record, these are my own opinions and things I’ve seen in the 10+ years I’ve been cosplaying. It’s definitely not the gospel, but sometimes the voice of experience can be useful.

First question: are you going to make the costume yourself, or are you going to have it commissioned? While to a lot of us a huge portion of the fun is making the costume yourself, not everyone has the time or ability to do so. If you plan on commissioning a costume, then this post isn’t for you. Rather, check out my previous post on Commissions 101.

You’ve decided to make it yourself. Great! Now it’s time to pick a character. First and foremost, pick something that you not only love, but something that matches your skill level. If you aren’t that familiar with sewing, consider buying something from a thrift store and modifying it or picking something simple like a school uniform. It will save you a lot of aggrevation and headaches if you do.

Next, find reference pictures. Lots of them. Front shots, back shots, close up shots. The more details you can put into your costume, from wig, to main costume, to shoes, the better your costume will be. Now start jotting down notes – break the costume down into sections so you know what you’ll need to buy, what you’ll need to make, and what you will have to do to get to that super awesome end product. And don’t be lazy! If they have earrings, don’t forget about them. Special cuffs on their shirt? Write that down, too. The devil is in the details, but so is the awesome.

And now it’s time to pick a fabric. Pick something appropriate for what you are making. School uniform? Cotton is great for beginners. Suitings material is even better, but more costly and a little more tricky to work with. Things to avoid: baroque (or costume) satin, and various forms of lame (unless absolutely necessary). (I’ll be doing a rundown of fabrics at a later date.) Doing a miko outfit? Bottomweight works nicely.

And I’ll stress this again – costume satin is crap. Shiny, overused, fraying crap. It’s what the cheapest costume makers from China use, and your costume will fall apart unless you overlock the hell out of it (and sometimes even then).

Ahem. Moving on. So you’ve picked your costume, broken it down, and decided on materials. Now, to put it together. There isn’t a lot I can add here, other than to remember to use interfacing where necessary for a nice crisp look, press your seams, and take your time. Oh, and perhaps get into the habit of washing your fabric (then pressing it) before you start cutting things out. But that’s more of a hygene thing than a craft thing.

Some final notes:

♦ Make sure you iron your costume before wearing. I forget to do this, and when I get my pictures back, I always regret it. You put so much time and effort into the costume; don’t let the overall look be ruined because you were too lazy to take 10 minutes to iron your costume.

♦ Don’t skimp. That awesome costume loses 1000 cool points if you wear it with tennis shoes – unless tennis shoes are supposed to go with it. Or spend a little extra and buy the nice wig, rather than the cheap, party store wig. Spray in hair color is just tacky. I know it sounds easy, but don’t do it. Not only does it look like butt, but a lot of times you’ll end up getting that crap on your costume.

My personal preference is wigs all the time, even if your hair is similar in style and color to what you are doing. There are exceptions, but – as an example – I’ve seen very, very few people with long enough and thick enough hair to pull of a *good* Sailor Jupiter style. Sure, it’s more comfortable, but if you want to do that extra “zing” for your costume, spring for the wig.

♦ Wear makeup – even guys. It doesn’t have to be dramatic (unless the costume calls for it), but make sure you have some good, long lasting makeup. People will want to take your photos, and you will look washed out if you don’t.

♦ If you didn’t make the costume, do not compete with it in contests. And modifying an existing item (like a suit you bought from TJ Maxx) does not constitute “making it”. Making the jacket and buying pants does not constitute “making it”. If you didn’t sew, craft, or create 95% of it, then just don’t. It’s really douche-y to compete in something you didn’t make, and not only will it usually get you disqualified – but you’ll get a very bad rep with the costumers if you do.

Now, go forth and have fun!

About Yunie

I am a cosplayer, a nerd, a geek. I am whatever you call me. However, I have a brain and tend to use it.
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