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Top 10 Cosplay Tips for Beginners
by Ashley Hasna © 2014 Salt Lake Comic Con

Click here for Cosplay highlights from 2013 Salt Lake Comic Con

Salt Lake Comic Con CosplayIf imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, no one should be more flattered than comic, sci-fi, and fantasy actors and artists. As Comic Con gathers dozens of such celebrities in one venue, imitators, also known as cosplayers, abound at such events.

Cosplay, short for “costume play,” refers to wearing costumes and accessories to imitate a character or genre. In recent years, cosplay has become its own form of art. Hard-core fans not only spend hundreds of hours and dollars to create their own costumes, they have their own websites and travel to multiple conventions to show them off. As much fun as it is to see others in costume at Comic Con, wearing your own can enhance the experience even more!

Every cosplayer starts as a beginner, so here are 10 tips to begin your own journey:

1. Don’t Get Intimidated
The first goal of cosplay is to have fun! Famous cosplayers aside, a hand-sewn costume is not a requirement to participate. From rental options to store bought costumes to t-shirts, it has never been easier to show your love. Consider starting simple and adding something new to your costume each year

2. Comic Book Characters Are Not Required
Although Comic Con’s roots run deep with comic book fans, dress options are not limited to those characters. From anime to favorite sci-fi television and the latest Disney characters, expect to see everything from Doctor Who to Lord of the Rings. Choose a character that suits your own personality and style. Savvy?

3. Do the Twist
Creativity in portrayal is always welcome. Cosplay isn’t just about portraying the original character; it’s about embodying the essence of a favorite character. Push the limits with gender-bender, steampunk, and burlesque projects. A lesser-known character outfit is also a good original option. What about Belle’s blue village dress instead of her yellow ball gown?

4. Online Resources Are Essential
Whether you want to make a piece yourself or are just looking for ideas, the Internet is your best friend. The cosplay community is generally very supportive and there are entire blogs dedicated to providing information and pictures on past projects. Need to know how to piece together armor? There’s a tutorial for that. Want to know how to style a wig for an Elsa costume? YouTube is there. Don’t underestimate these resources. They’re as close to the Hogwarts library as we’re going to get.

5. Consider Comfort and Style
While the character options are vast, some of them are easier to portray than others. Convention centers are hot no matter what season, and you may not always be inside, so consider the fabrics and size of costume needed to portray that character. Wearing Sherlock’s famous coat in July? Use some strong deodorant, and be prepared to wash the sweat out of it.

Carrying and transporting large props can also become quite difficult if they’re too heavy or too large. Look for or create pieces that come in parts, and consider a change of shoes—especially women. Wonder Woman is gifted with flight; mere mortals are not. Those four-inch heels will begin to hurt!

6. Create a Costume Contingency Plan
No matter what the costume, spend some time in your costume before wearing it in public and create a plan for emergency situations. The more elaborate the costume the more planning will be required. A touch-up kit is a must for anyone wearing make-up. A sewing kit, extra items, or even a full change of clothes are also important. You don’t want to miss out on the event due to an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

7. Details Deliver
Details make you stand out from other people playing the same character, and they don’t have to be complicated. Aside from finishing details such as buttons, texture, and ribbon, even small props and additional elements can make your costume more memorable. Consider adding a plush Flounder or Sebastian to your Ariel costume. Notice how fangs complete this weeping angel’s look. You can’t look away!

Cosplay Tips

8. Friends Forever
Cosplaying doesn’t have to be a solo activity. While Iron Man is great, why not bring all the Avengers with you? Group costumes allow an entire world to be represented instead of just one element. Since one is the loneliest number, grab a group and try your shot at the Justice League, Labyrinth, or any other fandom. Looks like there’s an opening for Professor X and Magneto in this group:

Cosplay Tips

9. Play It Safe
Props are important. Who could imagine Thor without his hammer? However, that doesn’t mean all props are allowed in the venue. Never bring real weapons, and be sure to check any additional venue restrictions before you choose to perfect a piece that isn’t allowed inside.

Also, be prepared for extra attention—some of it unwanted. Most of the feedback will be positive, but there are always naysayers, and some may become antagonistic. Be polite, try to stick with a buddy, and learn where security is before you get inside, just in case.

Iron Man Salt Lake Comic Con

10. Prepare for Pictures
People will love to see your costume and effort as much as you do, so plan for pictures—lots of them. People have even been late for panels because their costumes were so popular. Have fun with it and remember that personality counts as much as appearance. Using your character’s mannerisms will really sell the costume. Strike a pose!

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