Cosplay Tips from an Outside Observer

I just finished up my fifth convention, the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. I go as an author to sign books, not as an attendee, so my experience is a little different. But as I’ve enjoyed the various costumes you see at these shows (and some are truly theater worthy), I’ve made a mental list of what I’d keep in mind if I ever decided to dress up for a con.

Now, these are just what I would do. Obviously, plenty of people would do it differently. But if you haven’t done a convention yet and are wondering what to consider when choosing a costume, here’s what I would keep in mind for myself.

1. Make it comfortable

Could I comfortably sit down in my costume? Including on the floor? Benches and chairs go fast, and with a lot of people in attendance, sometimes sitting on the floor is the only option available. It’s common to see hallways lined with attendees resting from their convention labors, right there on the floor.

If I’m wearing a hoop skirt or walking around in a Tartis box, I’m going to have difficulties.

Along with comfort, consider the shoes. I’ve seen girls in spiked high-heels walking the convention floor.

These floors are huge. There’s tons to see. There’s a lot of walking. That doesn’t even count the walk from your car (in a nearby parking garage if you’re lucky) to the convention floor, or walking from event to event.

This last time, I saw a guy literally helping a girl stay upright as she walked because she was, clearly, exhausted and in pain thanks to her four-inch heels.

I’d definitely pick a cosplay theme that allows for comfortable shoes.


2. Avoid bulk

I may be able to sit comfortably in my costume, but if I have elements that are bulky (including hats), I know it’s going to get tricky navigating the crowded convention floor.

3. Avoid props

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen someone fumble with their props as they’re trying to pick up something to look at (like my book). It gets even worse when they have to dig cash or a card out of their wallets.

I would skip costumes that call for swords or parasols or whatever. Special items are fun though, so I’d choose something with fun elements I could wear instead of carry (like steampunk bracelets).

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(This cosplay was so fun. I personally wouldn’t want to carry around a frying pan all day, but I’m glad she was willing to do it.)

4. Be awesome, but not too awesome

The best costumes get noticed. People want to take pictures of people in awesome costumes. They want to take pictures with people in awesome costumes. While this would probably be a nice ego boost, I’d think it’d get tedious after a while. I’ve seen people stopped literally every foot or two so someone can take their picture.

I don’t know how they get anything done. They’re constantly posing. I don’t think that would be my thing.

(If that’s your thing, that’s cool. But consider splurging for the 3-day pass. You’ll never see everything otherwise.)

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(Yes, there’s a person in there. I love, love, love the AWESOME costumes, but I’ll leave them to the experts.)

Bonus convention tip

The first time I saw someone at a convention with a rolling cart for their purchases, I thought they were crazy. A little on the excessive side.

After seeing people struggle to lug around their purchases (remember all the walking?), I now see the wisdom of a cart or a big backpack. If you’re going to do any shopping at all, it’s not a bad idea.

(You’ll probably do more shopping than planned. I go there to sell and I still end up with unplanned purchases.)

Do you have convention or cosplay tips? Have you never been to a convention but have questions? (I had all kinds of questions before my first con.) I’d love to hear your comments. :)

2 thoughts on “Cosplay Tips from an Outside Observer

  1. Loni Townsend

    That sounds like a lot of good tips. I love steampunk. I hope to someday go to more conventions, but I think I have to wait until my kids get older. I feel bad leaving my husband behind to handle them while I’m off having fun. At least my daughter loves playing dress-up, so I know she’d be more than happy to join me. :)


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