This blog details some of the advice I give at panels for cosplay beginners such as "Cosplay 101" or "How to start cosplaying" since not everyone can make it out to Canadian events. I hope you find it useful.
More blogs in the 10 year Cosplay Retrospective Series:
Week 1 -Wigs | Week 2 - Make-up | Week 3 - Armour | Week 4 - Cosplay Closet Purge | Week 5 -Planning | Week 6 - Inventory | Week 7 - Cosplay on a Budget
How are you getting to the event? How much luggage or trunk space do you have available while accounting for your travel buddies? How much extra will it cost to ship an item to the event or to pay for additional luggage while flying?
This is an important factor for non-local events. Parts of the costume may have to be made detachable to fit in luggage. Certain props may have to be made in multiple separable pieces. Keep this in mind while you draft out patterns and plans your props.
Knowing the properties of the fabric you need to buy for a costume will help you narrow down which one you need to purchase. Here's what I consider before I settle on a fabric.
Charmeuse silk would be classified Shiny (somewhat)> Light > Opaque > Smooth > non stretch > Solid and/or pattern (depending on the costume) > dyeable > high budget.
Compare to satin which can be heavier, have slight texture, can be stretchy, can be dyeable (only with polyester dyes), and low budget.
If you can determine which attributes best describe your fabric, someone at the fabric store can probably help you pick something out. Having a reference photo handy always helps, especially if you have a hard time naming fabrics.
Dressing / Undressing
How do you get in and out of the costume? How will the costume stay on your body? How long will it take to put on? Will you need assistance getting it on? How long will it take you to remove the costume?
These questions are linked to your material choices and determine how your costume is held together. You need to decide on the right notions to pieces you costume together: zippers, snaps, buttons, grommets and lacing, hook and eyes, elastic bands, etc.
Keep in mind that the fasteners you choose can alter to look of your costume. If your costume is based on a certain era (historical) consider using the fasteners available for that time period.
If you need assistance be sure to get a friend to commit to helping you ahead of time so you are not inconveniencing them or looking for someone at the last minute. Also, budget your prep time accordingly so you are not late for important events (masquerades, shoots, etc). If you can manage it, do a test run before going to an event to determine the time it takes to put on and take off the costume.
Comfort & Assistance
Is your costume comfortable or uncomfortable? Will you need assistance getting around the event? Is your vision limited?
The comfort of you costume will determine how long you can wear it, so you should budget your time accordingly. Prioritize your events (gatherings, panels, etc) to make sure you can attend and enjoy them.
Inconvenient or awkward costumes may require you have an assistant (aka handler) to help you navigate the crowded con floor. Be sure to check the convention policy on large costumes, as some events require you have an assistant for large or vision impairing costumes.
Consider some back up options to deal with uncomfortable costumes. I often bring a pair of flats if I'm wearing painful high heels. Also, you can make certain costume parts easily removable for maneuvering through crowds, such as wings or armour. I sometime bring a tote bag with me to carry certain costume pieces from one event to another.
Can you go to the washroom in this costume? How much time will it take you to go to the bathroom in this costume?
This is very important because with cumbersome cosplays where you need to set time for washroom breaks. Respect your bladder and go to washroom whenever you have a window of opportunity.
My Shiva costume was 30+ minutes ordeal to go to the washroom and that's not including putting everything back on again. I made sure to capitalize on some free time while waiting in the greenroom when I was competing in the masquerade.
MeltingMirror's Cosplay Blog
Learn more about my experiences in the cosplay world, from conventions to photoshoots and everything in between.