Look at those nerds, walking around in their weird costumes. Those who aren’t involved in cosplay think it’s just all about nerds dressing up as their favorite characters in conventions, but cosplay is actually a beautiful art form that brings out potential in people. Cosplay tests many skills including design, modeling, and acting. It’s also so much fun to do. A lot of effort and heart is poured into cosplaying and it’s really sad when one doesn’t turn out the way you planned, or it gets ruined before a convention starts. Here are some tips to help prevent a cosplay malfunction and stay a happy con-goer.
Wear Comfortable Shoes That Fit the Character
We’ve all seen those characters with ridiculous high heels and pointy boots who can still fight ninja armies without problem. Elaborate footwear can be very pretty but also uncomfortable to walk in. Intricate shoes are definitely not good for walking around at a convention. If your feet hurt you will be miserable and that’s not fun at all.
For girls, try using thick wedges or lower heels instead of the tall and thin high heels. I find that brands like Madden Girl and Kelly & Katie to be more comfortable than other brands.
For guys, try on shoes in the mid price range for a more comfortable fit. I’ve heard feedback from my guy friends that expensive brand shoes aren’t very comfortable and neither are the cheaper shoes.
For both men and women, I found investing $20 in gel insoles to be a lifesaver. I have athletic gel inserts from DSW and they feel so great! I’ve also worn Smartwool socks used for hiking whenever I can. They really help protect my feet from getting blisters and they’re comfy too.
I believe that there’s no wrong way to do cosplay but I do find that some cosplayers neglect the footwear part out of their outfits. It’s a little odd to see Batman wearing tennis shoes at a convention and it would be a shame to have your hard work undone by inappropriate footwear. Wear something comfortable but pick shoes that will match your cosplay even if it’s not the exact same pair of shoes. Boot covers are an extremely easy and affordable way to get the look you want. There are a lot of great tutorials out there for making fabulous boot covers to fit any cosplay and they can be used for other shoes as well.
Bring Safety Pins and Emergency Sewing Kits
Let’s face it; a wardrobe malfunction will happen at a convention. It’s not a matter of if it will happen, it’s when it will happen. That’s why I recommend to always carry safety pins at conventions. The best cosplay purchase I’ve ever made is a $3 mini sewing kit you can get at Michael's or JoAnn’s. I’ve used it at every convention to make little fixes and help hold pieces together until I can make proper repairs to my costume. It’s perfect for taking with you into panels while re-stitching a button or if you need to make fast repairs for emergencies.
Drink Lots of Water and Eat Properly
No one likes a sick or moody cosplayer. That’s why drinking plenty of water and eating proper meals throughout the day is very important. Pocky and energy drinks do not count! Also, drinking a lot of water in one sitting won’t help much either and might actually make you feel worse. Drink water throughout the day, most cons will have water available for free or have fountains. If you’re at a convention that doesn’t offer free water, take a bottle and some snacks with you to avoid the outrageous hotel and convention center prices. You’ve already spent enough on cosplay. Granola bars and energy bars are great snacks because they’re packed with protein and help keep your energy up. Fruit snacks are also a great choice to keep blood sugar up.
I’ll admit the aspect that I need to work on in my own cosplays is posing. I thought just doing an awesome sewing job would be enough, but looking back on some of my older photos, I definitely could have improved the cosplay if I spent more time on the posing itself.
Some of the best advice I’ve gotten on posing was from one of my photographers, and that was to treat posing like professional modeling. In other words, if it hurts, you're doing it right. Sucking your stomach in looks really great for posing even if you have a skinny frame. It forces you to have good posture and makes you look more confident in pictures. Just remember to breathe as well.
I definitely recommend looking at modeling tips online and being aware of where your hands are when posing. It is amazing how much of a difference shifting the position of your hands makes in a photo. Also, practicing in front of a mirror or asking your photographer for posing advice will make your cosplay look even more amazing.
Please Wear Deodorant
This tip really goes for everyone, not just cosplayers. If you’re wondering why people are avoiding you at the convention, it’s probably because you smell. There is a reason why every convention has a plea for everyone to bathe and wear deodorant, because unfortunately, not everyone does. Running around in a hot costume amongst a sea of bodies can make you pretty sweaty, so I like to keep a bit of deodorant with me. If you have to think about showering or using deodorant then do it. Spare everyone around you from the horrifying smell of con funk.
Also, using body spray usually works well too. Just be careful not to spray too much of it because sometimes that’s worse.
Have a Theme When Cosplaying with a Group
My favorite part of cosplay is cosplaying with a big group. I just love the look on other convention attendees faces when they see my friends and I dressed as their favorite series. I’ve found that we get the most pictures taken when we’re wearing outfits from the same arc, especially if we’re wearing uniforms. Using a themed outfit for group cosplays not only gets more pictures at cons but they also look nicer. Plus, they’re so much fun to make together!
Be Aware of Your Big Costumes and Props
This is both an etiquette and costume safety tip. I know how hard it is to walk around a crowded convention hall with a very large prop or long costume. I myself am sometimes guilty of accidently whacking other con-goers in the face with my Soul Eater Scythe, so I try to minimize the damage to other people by carrying it over my head like I’m waving a flag. It works but I still unfortunately manage to hit people when I’m not paying attention.
Paying attention to your big props and costumes is not only courteous to people around you, but it also helps protect your work. There is nothing worse than having your long and elegant cape get footprints all over it, or have your amazing armor crack when you bump into a corner. Conventions are really unforgiving on outfits but I found a few useful techniques to help minimize the damage.
One material that I like to use for my props is cheesecloth, because it’s super cheap and provides great protection especially if foam is the main material you're using. Also, adding 2-3 layers of modge podge to a prop will help protect from cracking and keep paint from chipping. That stuff is tough. For costumes, I think the best way to protect your work is to keep any lengthy material close to you at all times. Keeping extra material can be handy for large rips. You can use a smaller version for things like capes and veils to walk around with then save your masterpiece for contests and photoshoot. That way you’ll be a bit more comfortable walking around and your work will be safe.
Always Have Fun
Personally, I believe the only wrong way to do cosplay is to not have fun. You're pretending to be a character that you love amongst a bunch of people who like the same things. Why shouldn’t that be fun? Also, don’t be afraid to add your own style to your cosplay outfits. I personally like to use buttons with pretty designs for my jackets that fit both the character’s style and my personal tastes instead of using plain ones. It adds a little bit of me to the cosplay. I know other cosplayers who like carrying plushies and others who like making original outfits in the character’s style. However you like to cosplay, just be sure you're having a good time with it.