Your local convention is coming up! Whether or not you’ve been before, the mere fact you are interested in going means you are probably familiar with cosplay. You’ve probably heard from friends that cosplay is amazing. You might even know that the first cosplay happened before the first Comic Convention. But now is the time for you to join the ranks of cosplayers!
You Want to Cosplay
Cosplay is like dressing up for Halloween. You choose a costume, sometimes you get some makeup, and you have fun! However, I’ve noticed there are there are a couple kinds of Halloween costumes that don’t work for conventions very well.
The first is the generic concept, as opposed to character. “Zombie Lumberjack” and “Sexy Nurse” don’t work very well, whereas “Zombie Deadpool” and “Sexy Pikachu” DO work well. You can edit a character however you want, but you will feel like you fit in if it’s an actual character.
The other Halloween costume that doesn’t really work for conventions is being an object, like an Oreo cookie, again because it’s not a character.
Lastly, even if you do pick out a character, don’t just grab a full costume from the costume store, and just be that. While becoming a character is half the fun of cosplaying, creating the costume is the other half. I’m not saying you’ll be the only one there in a costume store outfit, but you won’t get the full scope of how much fun cosplay is.
Find Your Interests
The first step in picking out your first cosplay is to find your interests that fit within FanCons. What fits at FanCons? Usually it can be defined by characters that dress weird. Whether it’s wizard robes, Jedi Tunic, or a red, white, and blue circular shield, the characters you want to look for are dressed in a way you don’t see on the street. Avoid suits, or jeans. The only exception I can think of is if you are wearing a suit, it could be The Doctor from Doctor Who, or if you are wearing jeans, it could be dirty and ripped like a character from The Walking Dead. Get a list of four or five movies/TV shows/video games/books/comics where people aren’t dressed like you in your day to day.
Find Some Characters
Now that you’ve got your interests picked out, time to narrow it down to some characters. What characters have you identified with? Who are your favorite characters from each of those interests? As you build your costume, and try it on, you want it to be from a character that you really enjoy, not just one that looks the coolest. Looking cool always helps, but that shouldn’t be your primary decision for your first cosplay.
Look At Difficulty
Now that you’ve narrowed it down to a few characters from a few different properties, look at the complexity of their outfits. Again, you want to avoid the jeans or the suit, but at the same time you don’t want to worry about full sized wings or stilts on your first time. If it can be boiled down to a handful of items that aren’t heavy or take up a ton of space, you won’t get as frustrated with it. Granted, that does mean that sometimes you’re going to get frustrated with any cosplay, because that’s just what happens. But find one that you think is within your ability to put together, either from buying pieces online, to sewing pieces together. Again, don’t buy an entire costume from online, half the fun is constructing it. Thrift stores are a great place to go to find random pieces.
Don’t Mind Body Type
Some people will only cosplay characters that already look like them. While that is helpful for Cosplay Contests, for your first time around, don’t worry about that. Whether you’re a different height, weight, skin color, gender, whatever, don’t let that stop you from choosing a cosplay that you would really enjoy. Cosplay is about self-expression and idealization.
At the end of the day, cosplay is all about having fun. Be proud of your work. Bond with other cosplayers. Build your excitement as you prepare for your local convention. It doesn’t matter how screen accurate you are, or how difficult your costume is, or even if other people know who you are cosplaying as. You should be happy with yourself, and your work.
P.S. Bringing a few safety pins is always a good idea, in case you give your outfit a bit more wear-and-tear than it’s prepared for.