The characters we read about in science fiction and fantasy books impact our lives. We take from them courage, compassion, wit and wisdom. We try on their philosophies and their outlook on life.
Sometimes, we even dress like them.
Thatís what cosplay is all about!
Granted, we donít have to wait for a convention to try on the persona of a new or favorite character; we can adapt our wardrobe to accommodate subtle changes to our attire. A tunic in place of a blouse. Braids instead of pony-tails. Cat-eyes makeup instead of the simple blush and mascara. Motorcycle boots instead of the simple loafers. Any change that puts you in the mood and mindset of your favorite character will boost your confidence and excite your world!
One of the concerns you might have is the cost of your costume. The best changes are one item at a time. The best places to find these items are thrift stores and charities. My favorites are Goodwill and Salvation Army, not to mention the Catholic Thrift Shop and the Peace River Mental Health Thrift Shop. Each one offers gently-used, high quality brand name items at a fraction of the cost; so your subtle changes donít have to be permanent. If something works Ė great! If something doesn't work, it didn't cost you an arm and a leg and you feel that you must keep it forever. If it didn't work, you paid $6 for a $100 item; give it away and take that off your taxes. You still have $94 worth of mental-credit to spend until you find the right look and the right outfit.
Now, get those Science Fiction and Fantasy books which have the characters you would really like to imitate. Re-read the descriptions of his/her clothes and hair. Jot down ideas on what you would like for your re-creation of that character. She wears orange but you look peaked in orange Ė change it to brown or yellow. It doesnít have to be an exact match Ė make it your own.
A word about costume contests at cons Ė each one has their own criteria, but most of them expect the costumes to be hand-made. As a matter of fact, some cosplay participants can be quite snippy about store-bought attire. If you are just wearing your favorite characterís outfits to put on their persona through osmosis, donít worry about it. However, if you are planning to participate in a costume competition, you need to know exactly what the criteria are.
I usually go to conventions dressed as a belly dancer because I am a belly dancer. The outfit is authentic, but not hand-made by me. (I can sew a straight line; at least, Iím pretty sure I can.) However, I do not compete in the costume competition in my normal gypsy tribal skirt and peasant blouse. I do have an outfit that Iím making out of items I bought at Goodwill which I plan to re-purpose into a bellydancer skirt and choli. So if that one works out the way I hope, Iíll enter it into a cosplay contest. The outfit I bought at Goodwill to wear to the Carolina Ren Fest when I was a guest author in 2011 though was a hand embroidered and sewn tunic from Russia with leather moccasin boots. Great as a replica of what someone from Orchidea might wear, but not original enough for a cosplay contest.
So, as you read these wonderful Science Fiction and Fantasy books and admire the incredible characters which are sometimes braver, smarter, prettier, sexier and/or more honorable than we are, go ahead and try dressing like them. Just try a little piece of jewelry or a scarf or do the whole thing and dress as the character down to the last stitch! Have fun! Play dress-up as a normal part of your every-day life. Donít be afraid to be a little different. Isnít that why you like all those SciFi/Fantasy novels anyway?