Cosplay Guide for Newbs!

steampunk Belle

Cosplay is something I’ve always been passionate about.  Even as a young kid dressing up for Halloween my costumes had to be completely accurate, and I just so happen to have a mom who is awesome at making costumes!

Fast forward to my adult life.  The following are words spoken by my inner voices (yes plural):

“I need to plan on going to as many Halloween parties as possible so I can show off my costume!”

“What is this cosplay people speak of?”

“OMG you mean dressing up isn’t just for Halloween!?”

“I could dress up as multiple characters!  Must cosplay ALL THE CHARACTERS!!!”

(end scene)

I get a little excited…anywho, I thought I would offer some tips and tricks for cosplay newbies, or even veterans who are looking for hacks they never thought of before.

1. Choose a character you are passionate about.  Cosplay is called such because you are not simply dressing up as a character, you are portraying that character; you are representing that character; you are PLAYING as that character. So if you pick a character you know very little about, you’re not going to convince anyone.

2. If you really want to cosplay as a character despite your gender, size, or race, then you cosplay as that character! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be a certain character because you’re not skinny enough, or that character is white and you’re black, or that character has blue eyes and you have brown eyes, or even that character is male and you’re female.  Who cares?

3. Don’t buy cheap Halloween costumes unless you have no other option.  Think about how long you will be wearing the costume and if the quality of fabric or the stitching will hold up.  If you are on a budget that is totally okay, but don’t just buy a cheap costume because it’s cheap.  You get what you pay for.  If you don’t mind it looking a little fake then that is cool, but if you really want to be accurate you should really try to upgrade the quality a bit.  Which brings me to my next point…

4. When you go to the convention, be sure to pack a cosplay emergency repair kit in your bag.  I will cover exactly what you should pack in your kit in another article (Below is an example, though some essentials are still left out).

repair kit 1

5. Touchup makeup.  Chances are you’ve done at least some kind of makeup for your cosplay and when you get sweaty and hot your makeup may start looking a little…worn.  Below I have pictured an example of a touchup kit.  I also included a small can of hairspray but you may also want to bring some extra bobby pins, and if you’re wearing a wig you should bring a wide-toothed comb.  It will get a little snarled throughout the day so it’s a good idea to gently comb through those tangles to keep it looking less…wig-y.

makeup kit

6. Youtube is your friend.  When I am researching a character, makeup technique, hairstyle, or cosplay accessories, I turn to my old friend: YouTube.  There are tons of YouTubers who have great advice on achieving different looks.  Try to find as many resources as you can so that you can figure out what will work for you.

7. Prepare yourself: People will ask for pictures; people will probably ask who you are supposed to be; people may even try to critique your work if you made it or critique your choice of buying a pre-made costume.  Either way, it does not matter.  It is no one else’s business. You own that cosplay! And when you pose for pictures try not to be stiff.  Get into character! And don’t be offended if someone doesn’t know who you are supposed to be, that has nothing to do with how good your cosplay looks.  Just remember that not everyone is as passionate about that character as you are.


8. Always pack street clothes in your bag to change into when your cosplay starts getting the best of you.  It is normally very hot at conventions and sometimes costumes can make that even worse.  If you have worked really hard on a costume you wanna show it off for as long as possible, but don’t torture yourself! Plan on not only having street clothes and comfy shoes, but also have a plan for storing your costume.  Will it fit in your bag without getting damaged? Or should you make the trip back to your hotel room to unload? Last year my Lady Loki helmet I made started falling apart in the middle of the Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton panel at Nerd HQ.  Even though I had a repair kit I knew that it was going to be difficult to save my helmet…so I ditched it in the restroom garbage can.  It was a difficult decision but it made my day a little easier not having to worry about hauling it around.


9. Most important of all…HAVE FUN!

That’s all for today nerds! Tune in next week for more cosplay tips!

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