Every year as Halloween draws near, people often consult with their cosplay friends to help them decide on a costume for their Halloween festivities. As someone who has considerable cosplay experience, I am often consulted by my friends for help in choosing and executing costumes. While on my long morning walks with my dogs I was thinking about this very subject, and I realized that many of the same motives that I use when choosing my own costumes for cosplaying at conventions throughout the year can be applied to choosing costumes for Halloween.
One of the foremost reasons for choosing a costume is the popularity of the subject at the current time. Whether it be the #1 TV show on right now (Walking Dead), the top grossing movie of the summer (Guardians of the Galaxy), the latest social media viral sensation (ice bucket challenge), or the hottest costuming trend (sugar skull makeup).
You look like them
I’ve seen these people at conventions… the tall, lanky dark haired man with a strong resemblance to Leonard Nimoy, he is cosplaying Spock. The older man with a salt and pepper beard wearing a flannel shirt, he is cosplaying George Lucas. The man with an uncanny resemblance to Will Ferrell, he is cosplaying Buddy the Elf.
If you have ever been told that you look like a celebrity or a character, this is the perfect match for you and your costume. Half the work and effort is already done for you!
Favorite character – new or classic
We all have a favorite character, movie or book. There is usually someone or something that really strikes a chord inside of us, causing an unbridled passion. It could be your much loved character from a classic book or TV show from your childhood, or your latest craze today. It is always the easiest and most fun to create a costume of something you love.
“Urbanites” love Karl Urban. “Pine Nuts” are nuts for Chris Pine. “Barrowmaniacs” adore John Barrowman. “The Cavillry” are fans of Henry Cavill. “Hiddlestoners” are obsessed with Tom Hiddleston.
Chances are if you are a member of a fanbase with its own nickname, you are a fan of one or several of that artist’s works. Creating a costume of a favorite character brought to life by an artist is a good way to pay homage to them while expressing your admiration of that work.
One of the best ways to get the assistance and motivation that you need to complete a costume is to be a part of a group costume. Not only do you have the incentive to complete the costume, as not to disappoint your friends by leaving a void in the group, but you can work together and help each other along the way. You might not be good at sewing, but another friend is. They might not be great at makeup, but that is your forte. Sharing the journey with your friends is a lot of fun along the way, and very rewarding at the time of execution.
One of my favorite group costumes was at Dragon Con 2011. I joined a group of 4 girls, a few that I had not previously met, to create costumes of the five main characters from the movie Sucker Punch. We helped each other along the way, sharing tips and ideas, and being each other’s cheering section. The end result was amazing. We were cornered in the back of the Marriott’s Atrium level for 2+ hours with hundreds of photographs taken of us.
Meeting actor / director / creator
Sometimes I get stuck with the decision of which costumes I am composing for an upcoming event or convention. My problem might be different than most, and that is narrowing it down to a manageable number of costumes rather than coming up with them. I have a decision-making process to help me narrow my scope. Often, this is driven by the guest list for an upcoming convention.
For Dragon Con in 2014, I was preparing my costume line up. I had been struggling with the decision to either work on Sif from Thor: The Dark World, a costume that I have been anxious to do. But I also had been eyeing Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy. But Guardians had not been released yet, and photo references were far and few between. The decision became very easy for me when James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy, was added to the guest list for Dragon Con. I dropped everything and went to work on Gamora. James was also the scriptwriter for the Lollipop Chainsaw video game, so I quickly added one of my Juliet Starling costumes to my Dragon Con line up as well.
I am an artist. I have drifted between traditional mediums (drawing and painting), to crafts (scrapbooking and cake decorating), to textile arts (sewing). I consider cosplay a form of art, and the beauty of this art form is that it can encompass any practical art that you can think of. I have chosen which new costumes I want to construct based upon a new technique or medium that I wanted to try. I have always wanted to learn chain maille weaving, and Sif’s armor gave me the opportunity to do so. (And it is not as easy as it looks!) I was very excited when I discovered Worbla, a thermoplastic modelling material which can be shaped using hot air. This opened up a myriad of new possibilities!
Cosplay is also a great way to involve your friends and family. If you are not good a something, maybe you know someone who is. One of my favorite memories was preparing my costumes for Dragon Con 2011. I spent many days over at my grandparents’ house, which is the central hive for my family’s activity. My grandmother helped with the patterning and cutting. My grandfather helped with the sewing. My uncle helped with leather making and props. My aunt stopped by, and soon she was hammering grommets and installing snaps. It was a family effort.
I’m also a champion for trying new techniques. My motto is, “you will never get better if you don’t do it.” There has been a lot of trial and error, and much frustration along the way. But I enjoy it, and it has resulted in some pretty spectacular results in the end.
Costume appeals to you
Sometimes there is just a costume that speaks to you. The fabric is gorgeous, it hugs the body just right, the wig is amazing, the prop is bad ass… if something appeals to you, whether you are part of the fandom or not, go for it!
Bottom line, when it comes to cosplay and costumes, the first rule is THERE ARE NO RULES.
Go for it, have fun, and if you love what you produce, it will show.
Shanon (a.k.a. “Super Muffin Girl”) has been cosplaying for 10 years. She attends several conventions every year, and has recently been expanding her cosplay wardrobe by experimenting with new mediums and techniques. Her work is showcased at www.facebook.com/supermuffingirl, and she can also be followed on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr (user name: supermuffingirl).