Geek Girl Advice: Things I wish I could tell myself before my first cosplay.

Making the choice to create a costume and parade around a room full of people who are obsessed with whatever you’re dressed up as is pretty ballsy. The cosplay community doesn’t take their fandoms lightly, and thus it can be stressful and difficult to build up the courage to cosplay, knowing how judgmental the community might be. But cosplaying is super rewarding, and a unique way to artistically portray a character or series we often times have very deep connections with. I remember when I first made the choice to put together a Sailor Saturn costume for NekoCon in Virigina. I knew how much I loved Sailor Moon and the character. I was so excited… but so terrified. I really wish I had some of this advice before I got started.

Hope Erica: Make sure it will still be comfortable after six hours. If you have to think about the costume, you will have less fun.

Koriann Naya Bishop: Duct tape is simultaneously your best friend and worst enemy. It can help hold you up, keep heavy/bulky accessories is place, but avoid putting it on your skin if possible. If you need a little help defying gravity (especially my fellow anime/comic cosplayers) try saran wrap between your skin and the tape. It’ll stick to your skin tight enough to protect you from some serious pain when you have to cut yourself out later.

Morgan O’Brien: Your home made Fiona cosplay will stand out amongst the 20 other store bought Fiona cosplays. But it stood out.

Kristin Hackett of SuperSpaceChick,com
Kristin Hackett as a superhero of her own design, with other cast members from Syfy’s Fangasm
Kristin Hackett: Have fun!

Brittany Smith: People will try to stop you for pictures. Its ok to say no if its stressing you out or you have to get somewhere. They will understand. I got totally mobbed by people with cameras the first time I cosplayed at a con and it was extremely stressful! I was used to LARP settings and totally not expecting it.

Kendra Linn VanDonkelaar: People won’t care that your Guthrie is excited and hyper. They will love you and you don’t have to worry about being tooooo annoying.

Carrie Biermann: MAKE SURE YOU CAN STILL GO TO THE BATHROOM WHEN IN COSTUME. three of my corsets are long-line, because i have a long torso, but they’re hell when trying to use the facilities in costume. (too much good posture is a bad thing!) I have gone back to regular-length corsets wherever I can for just this reason. Movement, especially in the LARP setting, is key. If you can’t move, you can’t engage.

Mia Moore as Luna Lovegood
Mia Moore as Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter! Photo by Mel Shardae
Mia Moore: Do it for yourself and have so much fun with it! Don’t be too hard on yourself 🙂

Jacci Kaschak: Do not get discouraged or intimidated by others no matter what they say; confidence and pride in whatever you create is a major part in cosplaying well.

Bethany O’Connor: Don’t worry about how much better the other cosplayers look. Don’t worry about how much more elaborate their costume is, or how much prettier you -think- they are than you. A huge part of cosplay is “owning” the character whose shoes you’ve stepped into. You may not have the best costume, but you sure as Hell can play your part like a champion. Also: Rubber cement and bobby pins.

Koriann Naya Bishop: You’re going to be surrounded by potentially thousands of excited, hyper people. Damage happens. Keep a small sewing kit/tape/glue/other quick fixes depending on your costume’s material in your carrying bag or hotel room. Not only can you save your own costume on the fly, but someone else might need a helping hand.

Ayla Almee
Ayla Almee: Don’t worry, you’ll get better. A good photographer helps as well!

Ebs: Balance ur body size with self conscious. If u got a skinny bod totes go all out but if ur a curvier girl, know what works

Cheryl Lim: Charge all your electronics, and have some quiet time to prepare. Pack the emergency kit.

Cassidy Noga Scott: Take lots of pictures. Make sure to get some at the start of the day with your camera or phone – no telling what could happen and there isn’t always time to pose for a quality picture (and there’s the issue of lighting and stuff too). Also: be the character. Don’t be self conscious. You probably won’t see any of the people again and hey, you’re in costume. So you’re awesome. (:

Me as Utena Tenjou
Me as Revolutionary Girl Utena Tenjou/bellydance mash-up
Leslie Stewart: A good wig is your best friend! A wig will make the costume, and helps to make the role-playing experience more immersive. Role-playing is key and adds to the costume on a whole ‘nother level, so get INTO character. Don’t stress. Stay hydrated and well fed. Take group photos with people in your ‘series.’ Make friends, swap Facebooks, and stay in touch with other geeks who love the same crazy crap as you.

Melissa Ann Paris: Take pictures, relax and have fun, don’t worry about things being not ‘perfect.’

Michelle Otte: Make sure “big” costumes have ventilation and a good eye hole… Conventions aren’t fun if you can’t breathe or see the sale items. Also if you have to take big costume off for a little bit do not feel bad about this, though people may heckle you for it.

Jamila Rowser crossplays an epic Spike from Cowboy Bebop
Jamila Rowser as a crossplayed Spike from Cowboy Bebop!
Jamila Rowser: Don’t let your non-sewing abilities stop you. You can find someone else to help! Also, be creative and remix your cosplay is just as great. You can make it steampunk, cyberpunk, crossplay/gender bend, post-apocalyptic, mashups, the possibilities are endless!

Thanks to all the Larpettes and Iggles who took the time to answer. Leave a comment and tell me which advice you wish you could give yourself before your first cosplay!

PS: Good news! Remember that Hot Topic shirt from a few months ago, practically bullying cosplayers to do it “right” or not at all? Well, good news, that shirt has since been removed.

12 thoughts on “Geek Girl Advice: Things I wish I could tell myself before my first cosplay.”

  1. There’s some really good advice here, but I need to amend something:

    No matter your body size, understanding clothing design goes a long way towards making looking your costume look good. Taking a class or two on anatomy and tailoring is absolutely invaluable to understanding how to cut things to best fit your body. You’ll be more comfortable, too. never stop improving your skills, it’ll keep raising your costumes to levels you didn’t think you could attain.

    But if you’re skinny, going all out isn’t always the best call. And being “curvy” doesn’t mean you should have to be more restrained in your choices. I’ve seen bigger cosplayers who have pulled it off far better with gorgeous costumes and technical know how than a skinny person who was counting on his/her “physical assets” to carry the piece.

    Cosplay should be an environment where everyone is welcomed, regardless of body shape. It is a medium that flourishes with the community’s willingness to share knowledge and encouragement, regardless of sex, gender, race, skill level, or pant size. Telling a fat girl that she can’t be Sailor Uranus is like telling a black girl that she can’t be Rapunzel. As in: don’t.

    I’ve judged countless cosplay contests, most of them on a professional con level, and I can’t tell you the number of times that first place went to a fat kid in a well crafted costume vs a thin person in a “size appropriate” one. And the surprise that ensued was usually pretty ridiculous. I had one girl actually say “But she can’t win, she’s fat!”. That’s some great sportsmanship right there.

    TL; DR-
    Learn about body shapes and how to dress them best.
    Never stop expanding your skill set.
    Don’t fat shame. Hate’s a bad color on you.

    1. I really love that example, and it also adds so much dimension to something people try so hard to perfect. If I want to see a perfect “Sailor Uranus” I can look at a picture of her, but to do an awesome mash-up, gender bent crossplay, or interracial Sailor Uranus would be a unique spin that should be celebrated – not only because all women (and men) are different sizes, shapes and colors, but it adds to what would be a very boring world full of perfect, straight up, “to a T” cosplays.

    2. This, omg thank you so much. I’m a bigger girl and have been pretty afraid to cosplay because of my size… Your comment brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for this invaluable piece of information… I think i need to stop letting my weight hold me back and let my sewing skills (which rock btw) do the talking. Thanks again.

  2. I love most of the advice here! I think the #1 thing is to remember to have fun! I was super nervous my first time but as soon as a little girl came up and asked for a photo, the nerves were gone1

  3. First off, thanks a BILLION for the GIANT packet of Valentine’s Day goodness I got from the Geek Girl swap with you. WOW. You are a SUPERHERO.
    Second, love this post. Especially the part about duct tape. I had to duct tape myself into my wedding dress after a wardrobe malfunction (so much exposed boob — so little time)… and the saran wrap tip might have helped. 😉

  4. Love this article. Love it, love it, love it. But I hope you don’t mind if I add something (which I’d imagine it goes with the bathroom comment): please don’t set aside any bodily need for the sake of a good cosplay. A few conventions ago, one of my friends decided that she wasn’t going to eat anything but a few pieces of fruit so that she could properly wear her corset. By that evening she just about collapsed, and that was the only point that we were able to convince her to eat something. The ironic thing was, she wore it again the next year, but loosened the corset a little. She looked almost exactly the same, all while not feeling the need to starve herself. I know some costumes don’t have that leeway once constructed, but perhaps allow for it when making it, if you know that may become a problem? I don’t know about others, but I would personally rather see people enjoy themselves while wearing a sightly less than form-fitting costume, than to see someone wearing an exact costume while looking like he/she’s about to drop.
    On a side note, make sure you carry food with you. Even if you intend on eating elsewhere, always have something just in case your blood sugar drops, or even if you just want a snack. I typically carry granola bars, but starting my next convention I’m always going to carry Smarties. Seems a bit odd, of course, but there’s a reason. Hikers and the like are told to carry sugar cubes, just in case they feel their blood sugar drop (marked by dizziness, blurry vision, etc), since consuming direct sugar is the best way to bring it up. Smarties are pretty much the same thing, while already being in a convenient package and can dissolve/be eaten faster. I think it works better when you let it dissolve under your tongue, but that’s my personal experience, and it may vary from person to person.

    1. Oh man, thanks for the smarties and sugar in general tips. I hadn’t thought about that! I carry granola bars and fruit bars on me, but hadn’t thought smarties.

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