So You Want To Be A Cosplayer? (Part One)

Salutations, fair readers!  This is Dash with an announcement and a fun new feature for A Tree Grows in Bookland ! In early Septembe...

Salutations, fair readers! 

This is Dash with an announcement and a fun new feature for A Tree Grows in Bookland! In early September I will be attending (and covering for this blog) Wizard World Pittsburgh. I'm going to be cosplaying at this convention, so I thought it might be fun to bring you guys some posts about cosplaying as a lead up to my convention coverage. Now, with all that out of the way...

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

When you first think of cosplaying you might envision some guy at a Star Trek convention wearing an old Captain Kirk Halloween costume. If you think that, you're not exactly wrong. However, a lot more work goes into a cosplay then throwing something on your body and calling it a day. 

Sometimes it can involve attaching half of a motorcycle to your body*.

Like all things, mileage with cosplay can vary. Some are incredibly elaborate and require hours upon hours to handcraft. Some are much less embellished and are easier to purchase or make yourself. Some require props and even binders. Some require wigs or heavy makeup. It really depends on the character you're trying to protray, your budget, and potentially your skills in crafting, sewing, hair, and makeup.

Some might even require two packs of bobby pins and an entire can of hairspray**. 

Since there's quite a bit that goes into cosplay, I'm going to give you a rundown of some of the basics that go into an awesome cosplay, a few tricks I've picked up, and some advice should you decide pick up this wonderful hobby for yourself.
To start us off, I'm going to break down what you should keep in mind if you want to do your first cosplay.  

1.) Strategize/Research Before You Start ANYTHING!


I cannot stress this enough. Before you start buying fabric or scoping out Etsy for a costume, you need to do some serious planning!


First and foremost, you should decide which character(s) you love enough to devote the time, money, and manpower into cosplaying. You also need to consider either what look of theirs you want to wear. 

For example: if you want to go as Ariel from the Little Mermaid-
 Do you want to do her mermaid look or walk around in one of the dresses she wears when she's human? 
If you want to be a bit more ambitious, how do you want to alter the character to suit your whims
Do you want to be a zombie Ariel? 
Do you wanna do a steampunk mermaid tail? 
Or do you want to gender bend and go as a merman?

The point is, there's many options to be had! Even if you think fins are too mainstream***.
Once you have an idea about the character you want to go as, you should decide when and where you want to portray said character. The event and the season in which it's occurring are really important to consider here. If you're going to a convention in the middle of August, you might not want to wear something that's lined in fur and covered with a lot of delicate appliqué that's going to fall off if you bump into someone. 

2.) Make a Budget
Regardless of whether or not you make or buy your cosplay, giving yourself a realistic budget is crucial. 
Depending on who you decide to portray and how detailed you wish to go, you might have to spend money on more than just a costume. 
For example: you might need a chest binder if you're doing a genderbent cosplay or a wig if you're cosplaying an certain anime character. This is not to say wigs or props are required for a good cosplay, but they do often give a look that extra oomph. 

Sometimes all it takes is an impractically large weapon to tie it all together****.
It's also important to keep in mind that, though it's incredibly possible to put together cosplays with secondhand pieces (or pieces you already own) and a bit of ingenuity, cosplays with one-of-kind pieces or fully-made professional costumes can get expensive. In addition, if you're making your costume yourself, it's important to remember that cost for materials can stack up. 
Overall, budgeting is super important, because if you can't make the cosplay yourself or have it made for you, you're going to need to work with what's available on the market or get creative with what you can find around your town which sucks up a lot of money.
3.) Make a Timetable
 Regardless of whether you make or buy your cosplay, a timetable is absolutely vital!
Allow me to give you an example from Camp Cosplay Maker. In April, I went to an anime convention as Koujaku from DRAMAtical Murder (which is a rather strange anime/visual novel) and, since I was pretty broke, decided to make my own cosplay.
Here's what Koujaku looks like...

And here's how my costume turned out...

My cosplay wasn't terrible, but it wasn't exactly stupendous either. 

I made that entire costume (accessories included) in about two and a half weeks and it was probably one of the dumbest decisions I've ever made. This was my first convention cosplay and I'd never made a whole garment in my entire life, so I was working up until the night before the convention, and I was stressed beyond belief trying to get everything finished in time.

My point is, even if you're a world-class seamstress, your costume and any props/accessories that go with it are going to take time to make so it's important to give yourself enough time to create your pieces to perfection. Furthermore, if you want to buy your costume (and this is very important if you're buying overseas) buy well in advance before your events. The mail can mess up or take longer than you plan, or your costume might need to be altered. So, to save yourself from a major headache, order early!

I'm sure Cinna would agree that you can't make something like this in a day*****!

So, that's it right? Research, budget, and timetable. Simple as that. Easy peasy...FALSE! This is only part one to preparing an excellent cosplay, my friends. Part two will be on its way shortly. In the meantime, what do you guys think of the art of cosplaying? Are you already a cosplayer or thinking of starting it up? Do you have any tips you'd like to see included in part two? Let me know in the comments! 

Until next time...I'm out! Catch you all later.

* Unknown cosplayers as the Shiva Sisters from Final Fantasy XIII.

** Bellatrix Aiden as The Flower Card from Cardcaptor Sakura.

*** Unknown cosplayer as Hipster Ariel.

**** Unknown cosplayer as Ruby Rose from RWBY.

***** Unknown cosplayer as Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games Series.

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