Welcome readers to the next part of our journey into cosplay. For those that missed part one, you can catch up here. Now, let’s get down to business.
Before a cosplayer can even begin the costume fabrication process, they have to decide just what character to portray. My top advice when it comes to choosing is to pick a character you love and relate to on a personal level. Outward appearance is a part of the cosplay experience, but it is nothing without the heart underneath. Don’t take this to mean you have to know every little detail about the character or every comic issue they ever appeared in. What’s important is that there’s something about them that is appealing to you. If you ever run into trouble actually creating the costume, you’ll always have that driving you forward, and it can make the difference between finishing a costume and not.
After picking a character or characters, the next step is to really take a closer look at their costume(s). Many characters have variations in their looks depending on comic issues, television seasons, films, et cetera. Pick the one you like most and make sure you save an image of it to use a reference. Also make sure it’s an outfit you would be comfortable walking around in on a convention show floor. To clarify, I mean comfort by way of how confident you will feel it in. If you’re shy about what you’re wearing, chances are you will look awkward in photos and will not have a good cosplay experience. As for physical comfort, well, let’s just say a good number of costumes are not all that comfy. (Oh, how we suffer for our art.)
Okay, here’s where things can get tricky. You will hear a lot of cosplayers (and some non-cosplayers) caution that you should pick a costume suited to your body type. In theory, I’m inclined to agree with them. However, if you really want to dress as a character of a different ethnicity, gender, physical size, whatever it is, I encourage you to go for it. No one is ever going to be absolutely accurate in their portrayal. It’s impossible. The big problem, unfortunately, is that bullying and teasing are still alive and well, and most cosplayers have been a victim of it at one time or another, myself included. The good news is that there are also a lot of genuinely decent people out there who support cosplayers no matter what. Other people’s opinions of your costume should never be a deterrent, but there are times you may need to have a thick skin.
Enough of that and back to the fun stuff. Once you have your character and your costume picked out, you’re ready to start making your plans into reality, and that’s where we’ll pick up next time. In the meantime, don’t forget to leave your questions and comments below!
(Photo: Catwoman (Chrissy Lynn) and Black Canary (myself). Image by Shawn Lebert.)