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Costuming at DragonCon

Page history last edited by Garand 10 years, 3 months ago Saved with comment


The tradition of costuming at conventions is a long and respected one. Dragon*Con's annual attendees put thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours into their costumes each year rather than putting that time or money into more common pursuits, like social interaction or sex. And while any psychologist could tell you that the root of it is an unhealthy, deep-seated need for escapism or sublimation, the fans know the real story: it's all about trying to impress members of the opposite sex vis a vis dressing up and then gathering to snark about the poor quality of the costumes of others. A proud and noble pastime!


Newer attendees, or those too despondent to wish to attempt to attract a mate through these means, may have difficulty with knowing where to start putting such plans into action. We can help!


Choosing Your Costume

Brilliant costuming ideas are a dime-a-billion (brilliant costuming ideas nobody else has done yet are way more expensive), but not all of those ideas are feasible, appropriate, or in any way worth your time. It's important to work out the correct blend of the three before rushing headfirst into the depressing black hole of the costuming nightmare.


All sorts of annoying things can completely torpedo your brilliant costume plan. Before getting too attached to an idea it's important to consider a few things:

  • Skill: That electric wheelchair-based Dalek might be neat, but if you don't know the first thing about electronics, welding, or Doctor Who, it might be a huge waste of time.
  • Body Type: Yes, the new Cylon Centurions are really friggin awesome, but unless you're fresh off the boat from Ethiopia, you're not going to be able to pull off the costume. 
  • Portability: Some costumes can get a little bulky and would be awkward to get to the convention, or awkward to wear at the convention. Will it fit into the elevator, or on the plane? Or on a city street? That full sized AT-AT replica won't make it under those habitrails you know.
  • Available Resources: You're probably poor, so think long and hard about your financial situation before getting your C-3PO gold plated for that extra special shine.
  • Popularity: Not in the sense of 'how popular is the source material'. Popular as in, is it such an awkward, unpleasant costume that people won't like being around it. Superman costume = good. Pizza The Hutt costume with real dripping/rotting cheese = bad.
  • Your Health: This one can be touchy but it's a serious one. If you have any chronic health concerns it may make certain costumes a very bad idea. We'll leave the interpretation of that up to you.


Once your idea has passed all of these particular tests, you can move on to the planning phase. It's important to point out here that once you're in the middle of construction you may still discover that the idea won't work for you: perhaps there will be an overrun of expenses, or your l33t sewing skillz that you haven't exercised for 30 years since that semester of home economics in middle school may fail you. Remember always that a life of costuming is a life of disappointment and misery.


Making/Building Your Costume

Right, your idea has solidified and you're ready to get started! Now before you go digging around in the closet for spare fetish gear to turn into your custom Sith Lord (Darth Ponyplay in da HOUSE!), you need to carefully plan your attack. Proper planning for a worthwhile costume tends to begin immediately after Dragon*Con, although many of the more extravagant ones can take years to complete. You've got to decide what materials you need, what materials you'll buy and then throw away so you can replace with better materials, you need to have a selection of tools handy, and you have to make sure that the friends you've guilted into doing the real work are available to do so and not busy, say, giving birth when you need that jumpsuit ready to go.


For those of us in the digital generation it may be helpful to create a personal website, or better yet a personal wiki, to help you keep your plans organized. You can readily update it with information as it becomes available. You can link to sites, forums, or pictures that provide information specific to your costume. If your costume is based on existing characters from cartoons or TV or video games for instance, you may want to gather as many pictures from the source material as possible (and probably plenty of Rule 34 examples so you can better envisage your hormonal motivation in the long run, am I right?).


Because the construction specifics of any costume could vary massively it's difficult to provide advice beyond that. Planning is key, though, and if you suck at that then cash is key so you can pay others to make up for your failures. Expect many.


Donning Your Costume

So you have a costume, you've gotten it to the convention, and it's time for the big reveal which will surely have you knee-deep in swooning <sexual preference gender>. It's time to grease up and slip into that latex bodysuit and hit the crowds!


But don't go rushing out there yet, kid! A few things need to be addressed first. Like have you gone to the bathroom yet? That can be the killer of dozens of costumes, save, of course, for those involving diapers (you sick sick freak). If you're in a costume from which you can't see very well, do you have a friend who can act as a spotter and laugh at you as you make an ass of yourself? If your costume is completely assembled, will it even fit into the elevator or should you carry part of it downstairs for later assembly? You've got to start considering things like this.


Costuming at DragonCon

Once you're down in the melee of the lobbies, it's time to get noticed. If you're lucky, or skilled, or largely nude and female without visible rolls of fat, you'll probably be noticed for the costume alone. Otherwise you may need to show off a little.Try posing with other people in costume, uninvited. People do love to mix and match odd combinations of genres in their photos, and you'll surely be welcome in such a friendly atmosphere. Alternatively, try to get into the background of as many people's pictures as possible.


Alternatively you could attempt to act "in character", provided you have any acting skills whatsoever. Which you don't.


The Dark Side of Costuming

Let's not mince words here: you're ugly. Gross. Nasty. A right minger. Fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. It looks like someone set your face on fire and you tried to put it out with an icepick. And you probably built a crappy costume too.


You can expect to hear a lot of that, unfortunately (but it's true so, you know...). Costuming is a very snobby sort of business. Fans of the genre from whence came your costume will pick apart every detail, up to and including the fact that it's not made from real <fictional species>. People who hate the genre will be even more harsh. Other costumers will belittle you and degrade you, which will prove arousing for 3% of you if fetish studies are to be believed. Security guards at the hotels will hassle you and in some cases, grab your props and declare them dangerous weapons. People will come in off the street and form a line to grab their crotch and spit at you. And on that cheerful thought, on to the next section.


The Perks

You'll get SEX. Hahaha, no, not really. There are no perks unless you're delusional enough to take pride in the abortion of cloth and plastic you've assembled, which you will, because costumers always do. There's an associated little buzz you get whenever the flash goes off and it turns out the camera was pointed at you, even if the photographer is busy laughing at you at the time. The cry for attention that is your costume will actually pay off, to an extent. Possibly. Yay! For one brief, shining weekend, you can pretend not to be a miserable failure by instead pretending to be a minor character in a bad TV show, and at the miniscule expense of your bank account, your time, and your dignity. That's as good as it gets.


Living With Yourself Afterwards

As you return to your home following the end of Dragon*Con, and put your costume into the attic, never to be worn again, you may find yourself suffering feelings of depression. Partially because the convention is over, but also because taking that costume off and putting it away brings you painfully back into reality. Which is to say, it reminds you that you're not as cool as a minor character on a TV show or movie, that you've never accomplished anything and probably never will, and that you're a miserable failure with little to live for. This is why so many costumers will work on costumes year-round: it helps alleviate the depression with anticipation of next year's brief, shining moment in the sun.


But that sort of coping mechanism isn't for everyone. In fact it can be rather difficult to cope with life outside of the convention. Many will self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. Of course the problem with these options is that you can only consume so much of either before it inevitably becomes tomorrow, at which point you're back to square one with your miserable life. Many will turn to rampant sex with dozens of anonymous partners, by which I mean instead that they will return to their life of involuntary chastity in their parents' basement.


Unfortunately there's really not a suitable replacement for Dragon*Con, as pharmaceutical companies have not yet developed a ridiciously expensive pill to compensate. Like all convention attendees you're just going to have to slog through the drudgery of being a normal human being for the next ~360 days until it rolls around again.


Hope your costume is ready by then!


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