Amanda’s Monthly Cosplay Tip: Explaining Cosplay

Hello cosplayers, and Happy December!

One thing that makes December so special to me (other than my birthday lol) is all the time you get to spend with friends and family. I remember when I was younger, we have company over, and it would always come up in conversation at one point or another. “So what kind of hobbies do you have?”  Whenever this happened to me, my mom would always go on and on about the crazy costumes I make and wear to conventions and sometimes, would even tell me to go “Put one on to show off.”  So, I present to you, some tips on how to explain what cosplay is to people who have no idea what you are talking about!

1.       Explain the meaning of the word cosplay.  Cosplay is a word, that is made up of the words “costume” and “play”,, which explains why it’s not just all about wearing a costume, but embracing the character as well and acting like them.  The word cosplay was coined by a man named Nobuyuki Takahashi when he first visited the World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) in Los Angeles in 1984.  He saw all of the people dressed up in costumes and he wrote an article for the Japanese magazine My Anime about what he saw.

2.       Create the setting.  Many people who aren’t familiar with the art of cosplay or even the convention scene itself will be confused on why someone would want to do this sort of thing.  Explaining what conventions are like, including the different panels, shows, concerts, guest interactions, and cosplay contests can set the tone for why people enjoy dressing up the way that they do.  My parents were always confused on why I enjoyed anime and, by extension, cosplay, but they were always supportive when I told them how inclusive of a place a convention can be and how so many of my friends were involved as well.

3.       Show off your skills.  If you sew or craft your own costumes, don’t be afraid to bring out a couple of your newest or best pieces to show off.  Tell them about the different techniques you used or materials you chose and explain how you made the piece and what it is for.  If you don’t craft your own costumes, show off your photography poses or even a few photos of you in a group setting with other characters or a video of you performing in your costume.

4.       Own it!  Don’t let people make you feel silly for the things you do and enjoy.  Just because they may not understand or enjoy the same sorts of things you do, be proud of your work and your passions!

Have a wonderful holiday season everyone and we will see you in the New Year!  Otafest is only 5 months away, so happy cosplaying!  ;)

Amanda’s Monthly Cosplay Tip: Cosplay Comfort

We’ve all been there. You pour hours and hours of work into making your dream costume, but 2 hours into wearing it, you want nothing more than to take it off and never wear it again.  Whether it’s too hot, it pinches and squeezes your limbs, or you want to scratch your head off, cosplay costumes can be super uncomfortable and frustrating to be in for long periods of time.  Luckily, there are many ways to help make your costumes more comfortable and easy to wear, like a good pair of shorts ;).

  1. Choosing a costume for the season:
    Wearing a costume with multiple layers of foam and fabric, to a convention in Florida in August isn’t the greatest plan. Likewise, wearing a spandex bodysuit and nothing else here in Calgary in January, won’t be the most enjoyable experience.  Many characters have different variations to their outfits to fit the different seasons, so try and plan your costumes around when you will be wearing them and have ways to warm them up and cool them down, either by removing or adding a layer, or changing up the fabrics and trims.
  2. Think about mobility:
    Yes, the 14 foot wings you’ve made look stunning, but how on earth are you going to go to the bathroom?  Make sure that you can remove, collapse, or even hide away bulkier parts of your costume so you can not only enjoy the convention offerings, but can still perform normal human functions!
  3. Wigs and head-wear:
    This can fall into multiple categories, including being way too hot, as well as being awkward and large, but head-wear and wigs can also be difficult to wear for hours on end.  Make sure you take time before the convention to wear your wig around the house for a bit , to become comfortable wearing it. Use a good wig cap, and, if you have long hair, braid or tie it up neatly instead of just shoving it under the cap.  Another fantastic tip I learned recently, is to carry around a little can of dry shampoo, so if your head does get hot and itchy, you can head to the bathroom (or cosplay green room), take the wig off, and give your hair a spritz.  It works wonders!! If your head-wear or wig is heavy, make sure it’s not so heavy that you strain your neck and back.  Take breaks, and try and make any head accessories out of light materials.
  4. Wear a comfortable base layer:
    Yes, this can add to the “too hot” situation, but make sure that you are wearing good, sweat-wicking clothing under your costume, like a tank top, fitted shorts or leggings, as well as good socks inside your shoes.  This layer should stay out of sight, but in the case of accidents, or if you do have to take a break in the bathroom or green room, you can remove layers, easily.  Also, make sure you are wearing appropriate undergarments, such as a dance belt or brassiere if you are wearing a tight fitting outfit. Not only will it be more comfortable for you, it makes the costume look more complete and professional without any unintended lumps and bumps.
  5. Range of Motion in the costume: 
    You never realize how hard it is to do things with your arms bound to your sides. When patterning out your shirts and tops, make sure you leave enough room in the shoulders for a range of arm movement.  This also goes for pants as well. Leave enough space in the inseam so that you aren’t waddling like a penguin down the hall, and you can comfortably bend down, or squat.  This will make sure that nothing is too tight to comfortably do anything needed, like snapping a quick selfie, or doing a in-character pose!
  6. Storage and pockets:
    Not everyone is blessed enough to have a cosplay assistant or a group of friends who are willing to carry your stuff around for you while in costume.  A couple of super easy ways to help with this, is to put a hidden pocket or two into your costume or take some extra fabric from the costume and fashion a quick bag with a strap.  Both are really easy solutions and can help you keep those most important things close by, like your phone and wallet, and make sure you have a place to carry that impulse buy from the Vendors Hall.
  7. Self Care:
    Stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep, and make sure you eat.  Your costume will only be seen and appreciated if you are healthy enough to be wearing it! And don’t forget, the better you feel, the more fun you are going to have, which is the most important part!

Cosplay shouldn’t be uncomfortable and just taking an extra bit of time in creating your costume in comfortable ways, as well as being mindful of your body during the convention, can make cosplaying a most enjoyable hobby.  The outward appearance of the costume may be super important to you, but we don’t call it cos”play” for nothing. Your happiness and comfort inside the costume also lends to the authenticity of the character, and adds to your experience and good memories!

Happy cosplaying and we will see you next month!