Cosplay: Wear it, work it, own it

By: Ash Rivas

It’s Business Time!

Take a small, tiny break, and give yourself a hand. Your cosplay is ready for its grand debut, and you get to be the belle of this ball. Believe me, it will indeed be a ball. Just a little bit weirder.

Business Fish coffee break
Even Business Fish can become exhausted at a con.

Once your entire cosplay is finished, give it a test run. Put it all on and make sure everything fits and works well. Don’t be scared of touch ups; it may seem exhausting or daunting, but it’s worth it to do it now before you’re actually at the con.

Believe it or not, there is a general process to putting on certain things. There is an order to the cosmos. This is cosplay; there are rules:

  1. Under attire (under shirts, specific bras, shifts)
  2. Main outfit
  3. Make up, or mask
  4. Wig
  5. Shoes
  6. Gloves

There’s a lot of variation available there depending on your cosplay, but the general process is almost always the same. Make up will get smudged or smeared by your clothes if you put them on after. However, if you’re putting heavy make up on, try to get a sheet or jacket and cover up the front of your cosplay so powdery messes don’t get all over the important stuff. Unless it’s donut powder. That’s delicious.



Practice makes perfect

Ignis cosplay
Ignis had so many layers, then I added a wig. Which, of course, makes everything itchy.

Now’s an excellent time to practice poses. Think about your character and some of their signature moves. These are huge crowd-pleasers, and you’ll stand out if you work on a pose that both reflects the character and looks good on camera. Take practice pictures and really move around so you can see what you like. I thought I had a great pose, but when I saw a picture, I realized I’d given myself about 6 extra chins purely because I didn’t stick my head out a little. Remember, if you look good, it’s all good.

Strike a pose!
Change up your poses!

Once you’re ready, get to that convention! This is the moment where everything is rewarded, and you get to eat up all the love your cosplay is going to get. Actually wearing the cosplay in action is a little different than trying it on at home, though. You’re going to be wearing this thing all day, and it can get hot, hard to see, or painful in spots where it’s tight or where things sit on stressed parts of your body. If this happens, the best thing you can do is take a break. Sit down, take off the parts that are hurting, and drink plenty of water.

If any part of your cosplay breaks, don’t panic. Ok, you will panic, but try to at least think about not panicking. Almost every convention has a cosplay repair station. These are generally run by volunteers who are pros at crafting, and they’ll help you find the supplies you need that can give you a reasonable fix. Once you’ve gotten a repair, leave a donation if they accept them, so you can come back again if you need it and so other people can benefit from the wisdom of the masters.


Etiquette and protocol

Being at the convention and working on the cosplay is an amazing experience, but there are other things you have to keep in mind to make sure that cosplay is fun for everyone. These are relatively self-explanatory, but they’re important, and can get overlooked by new cosplayers or people who are just caught up in the moment.

  • Cosplay is not consent. This has been a big problem in the past, and it comes and goes depending on the con. Someone dressed as a character is not actually that character. Don’t touch them without asking first, and if they say okay, be respectful. Maybe they authorized a hug, but that’s not a butt grab, so don’t do it.
  • Ask for a picture. It’s gotten popular to take video as you’re moving through a crowd, which is generally fine. But if you’re on the street and you see a cosplayer, just ask. Taking a subtle, sneaky picture is a lot more weird than asking for one.
  • Try not to interrupt! If someone is shopping, eating, sitting down, or on the move somewhere, be respectful and give them room. I saw a girl sitting down eating, and I told her that I loved her cosplay. She asked if I wanted a picture, and she stopped to pose. That’s fine. Just telling her I want a picture while she’s eating isn’t. Let them volunteer.
  • Drink water. You’re going to need it. Drink so much water you can’t stand it.
  • Be cautious of other cosplay. Sometimes you get crammed into really tight lines or areas, and someone might have a big old set of wings they’re trying to keep safe. Try to do the same with your cosplay, but avoid breaking someone else’s cosplay too.
  • Ask questions! If you want to know how someone made something, go ahead and ask. Most cosplayers really love to share their process and all of their tips!

And with that, you are ready. You have graduated, and can go to a con knowing the general process and guidelines to make it freaking awesome. Get yourself pumped to start a cosplay, and think about who you’d like to be. This is a really cool and welcoming community, and you’ve got so many resources online to look at if you’re not sure which cosplay is a good one to start with.

Strike a pose!
Rule #1 – Always ask Godzilla for permission. He roared. Which meant yes.

As for me, this fishy business was one of my favorite cosplays, and a gimmicky one is an excellent way to get started. Next up for me: Zelda from Breath of the Wild, and more interestingly, Gerudo Link from the same game. I’m so ready it hurts.

About The Author

I'm a big ol' nerd, and I want to effuse that nerdiness for the rest of my life. I spend as much time as I can drawing and playing video games, and I've taken that to the career level now since I'm back in school to be a game designer. I'm the mom to three puppies and a fat kitty, and the wife to a fellow nerd.

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