Let There Be Light!
Basics of Composition
First Thoughts when choosing a Costume
The Sun, Part 1
First Thoughts when choosing a CostumeCosplay101
by Amy Waller
Welcome back to Cosplay 101. Moving on from last month's discussion of what makes cosplay different from other types of costuming, this month we will look at a few general things that you might want to think about when choosing what costume or costumes you want to work on for the convention. The first is comfort. Is your costume something that you can easily get around in? If it's not, are you willing to accept that your limited mobility might cause you to miss out on parts of the convention? Cons tend to be crowded and you should consider that when deciding on your costumes. Are you going to be able to navigate crowded hallways in that giant mecha costume? This isn't to say that you can't make large costumes. Some of the coolest costumes I've ever seen are large robot suits. But large costumes are more suited to staying in a small area and having your picture taken than wandering the whole of the convention.
Think also of the season and location of the convention. Going to a summer convention in Florida might not be the best time for a costume requiring several layers of heavy quilted fabric. You'll be sweating in no time. By the same token you might not want to wear your chain mail bikini to a January convention anywhere that understands the word "snow". Unless getting frostbite is one of your convention goals. While the con location may be heated or air-conditioned, you'll still have to walk to the McDonalds (or fast food of choice) and the bank and thus be exposed to the cold/heat. In general, cons tend to run a bit warm because of the crowds, so consider that as well.
One of the most controversial topics in regards to cosplay whether or not one should take into account one's own race, gender, body type, etc when choosing a costume. Personally I am of the opinion that if you're comfortable wearing the costume, then go ahead and wear it. So what if the character's a white male and you're a black female, as long as you're enjoying your costume. That being said, do make costumes fit. Just because the character is skinny bordering on anorexic doesn't mean you should cinch yourself into a costume two sizes too small. That tends to have the opposite of the desired effect, bringing attention to your size rather than making your look thinner.
Wigs are another topic of contention. When doing aliens and/or many anime characters you can't escape the need to wig. Any time you are cosplaying as a character with a specific recognizable hairstyle it is a good idea to at least consider a wig. You can style a wig and then hair spray the heck out of it and it will stay better than your own hair. However, if hair color/style isn't that important you might be better using your own hair. Wigs tend to itch after a while, and a large wig is heavy. Good quality wigs can also be expensive, so my advice is if you can use your own hair, do it.
The last thing to consider is footwear. This is a much overlooked aspect of costuming and one of the most important. At most conventions you will be on your feet for a good majority of the day. Unless you are entering a costume in a competition, this is an area were it might be prudent to sacrifice slavish accuracy for comfort. Sure your character might wear 4 heels, but perhaps a similar looking lower-heeled shoe might be better for walking around without killing your ankles.
There may be a lot of things to consider before choosing a costume, but thinking them over before starting the costume will save you time in the long run. Stay tuned next month where I will discuss fabric, and how to acquire the fabulous fabrics you need, without breaking your bank account.
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