Wiggity Wiggity Wack!
Back in my day... maybe I should start all these segments with that line to really emphasize that I've been here for awhile.
This week I'm looking back at how the use of wigs has changed in the past 10 years for cosplayers.
I went from "au naturale" to almost mandatory wig purchases for every project. We've come a long way costumers, so let's look back.
For more info on the costumes shown, visit my Costume Page.
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 |
I started cosplaying in 2004 and I was weary about using wigs with my costumes. I thought "Why bother. I'll just pick characters with black hair and use my own." At the time it worked to a certain extent. Many people didn't use wigs with their costumes. The main reason being that wigs were hard to come by.
You would see many people with shiny thin Halloween wigs because that was all they could find locally. If you were lucky you could maybe get a wig or supplies from an ethnic hair store. If you needed coloured hair you would go without - the hell with hair accuracy - or use coloured hair spray or gel. I still have a crate (12+ bottles) of red hair gel from 2006, I ordered 2 but they gave me more, much more. Time to find it and throw it out.
There were some online sellers but availability and diversity was the issue. You might be able to find the right style but it was only available in 2-3 colours, and if you found the right colour then the shade was wrong. Most online retailers were tailoring their wigs for other markets, mainly performers such as drag queens or people with hair loss. As a result most of the wigs were natural colours and they were expensive. To get the right colour and shade most wigs had to be custom dyed, although not many people bothered. The wigs were also thinner (they had less fibers or wefts) and short wigs were hard to find unless you found a store tailored for men with hairloss.
I used to have to spend $60 to get a decent wig and it usually came from a drag store on eBay. The quality was great but it was not a purchase I could do often as a high school student.
Now there is a rainbow assortment of colours and styles. For any one colour you can get 10+ shades and find the one that works for you. Lace fronts, skin tops, parted (centre, side, front to back), multi-coloured, clip-ons ponytails, bangs, & wefts, and heat-resistant wigs, all at affordable prices, what is this sorcery! Those were rarities reserved for the few die-hards and they would break the bank. There are even pre-styled or specifically made for certain characters. There is even availability and diversity within regions or countries and options to order from abroad. The overall quality is pretty good even when it comes to $10-20 wigs from China - although always check the seller feedback before ordering.
Because of the ease of getting wigs, it has become a staple of any costume. Many people opt for a wig even though their hair can do the trick. I still got a wig for Korra even though I can use my hair in case I don't have the several hours it takes to straighten it... or if it rains.
Wig styling is now a regular activity with every costume. There has also been a move toward exact accuracy in wigs, where the placement of every hair is seen as another way to bring that character to life. For example, precisely placing the spikes on a wig for a character with messy short hair. Throwing on the wig and running your fingers through it would work too, but more people are now going that extra step.
Q: What has been your experience with wigs over your cosplay history?
MeltingMirror's Cosplay Blog
Learn more about my experiences in the cosplay world, from conventions to photoshoots and everything in between.