Costume Tips

When it comes to Costume, we've been there, done that, now serving 388 tips in 30 categories ranging from 1920s Costumes to Togas.

Know Your Cosplay Community

Wondering who’s notable in the cosplay community? Here are five women famous for their cosplay skills.

Jessica Nigri

In 2009, Jessica Nigri wore a Pikachu getup to San Diego Comic-Con International. A photo of the costumed beauty went viral, and Nigri has been a cosplay star ever since. Jessica has modeled for Lollipop Chainsaw, Elsword, and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Yaya Han

A professional model and costume designer, Yaya Han has been a fixture in cosplay since attending her first convention in 1999. Han has attended over 100 events worldwide, and she also appeared on Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay.

Victoria Schmidt

Victoria Schmidt got into cosplay in high school and became famous for her costumed portrayals of characters from the Star Wars, Star Trek, Disney, DC, and Marvel fandoms. Schmidt is the co-founder of the fashion style blog Set to Stunning and a former Heroes of Cosplay participant.

Ricki LeCotey

Ricki LeCotey hails from Canada, but moved to the United States to pursue a career in costuming. The moved paid off as LeCotey landed work on such films as Big Momma's House: Like Father, Like Son and X-Men: First Class. Ricki has appeared at conventions worldwide and joined Yaya Han and Victoria Schmidt on Heroes of Cosplay.

Chloe Dykstra

Actress and model Chloe Dykstra has appeared in Spider-Man 2, Drag Me to Hell, and Inappropriate Comedy and is the daughter of a Hollywood special effects guru. Dykstra also starred in Heroes of Cosplay.

As cosplay grows more popular, more celebs are bound to emerge. Who will be next?


Where To Start For a Career In Costume Design

Although they don’t receive as much fanfare as the men and women who wear them, costumes are one of the most vital ingredients to the success of any film. Without even realizing it, seeing what someone is wearing can take you back or forward in time or to any place on this earth or beyond.

Without proper costumes, it would be pretty hard to convince an audience that they were watching a scene in seventeenth century England if the main character is wearing a maxi dress or a pair of jeans.

Just like any profession there are many ways to become a costume designer. There are colleges and universities all over the country that offer special classes for aspiring designers. Some vocational schools also offer design programs that you can get certificates from. Another way of getting your foot in the door is by contacting groups, organizations, professional associations, and online forums where you can interact with professional costume designers and other aspiring designers.

You should research the profession as much as you can by reading books, magazines, watching interviews- whatever material you can get your hands on.

Some costume designers are so masterful in their craft that they manage to make the wardrobe the actors wear into its own character in the movie. Costume designers aren’t just seamstresses or fashion designers, they are historians, curators of knowledge about art, literature, textiles, what fabrics were popular in what time period, whether you had to be rich or poor to wear a certain garment. etc.

Costume designers must be willing to do extensive research, they must be prepared to motivate, direct, and supervise their crew. Costumes don’t stop at clothing. Costume designers should also have knowledge of the styles of jewelry, shoes and other accessories for the time period they are capturing.


Pay Your Dues and Become a Costume Designer

The costume department on a creative production has a costume designer at its head. Reaching this pinnacle of artistic expression and fashion takes time and dedication. Nobody can walk onto a Hollywood movie set or a Broadway theater stage and find employment as a costume designer without some time spent in the trenches of unpaid internships and entry-level work.

However, if you adore design and your friends call you the next Edith Head, your dreams of costume design can come true with some education, luck, and experience.

To Enroll, or Not to Enroll

The life of a costume designer doesn't always begin in school, but learning the subtleties of design may be easiest in a classroom setting. If terms like "color wheel," "breakdown," and "flat drafting" sound like a foreign language to you, some time spent with a book on costume design is advisable.

It's not necessary to enroll in a four-year or bachelor's degree program, but a few classes at the community college level or a technical design school will help you learn common terminology, as well as industry design standards.

Finding the Jobs

Costume designers require the creative environment of a movie set or theatrical production. Certain locales will offer more work in these areas and will be vital for finding internships and assistant positions near the beginning of your career.

Check out the geographic profile from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see what states offer the best chance at employment. If you live in an area where jobs are sparse, you might want to start by volunteering with a local community college's theater department.

Costume designers learn every facet of the design process and will work through the night to get that last stitch finished. If you put in the leg-work, you can become a successful, working costume designer.


How to Become a Theater Costume Designer

A great theater will have a host of talented individuals that work on incredibly tight budgets and time lines, in order to be ready by the opening curtain. There are the actors, the directors, the musicians, and the costume designers. This last talent is hard to break into, but very gratifying.

To become a costume designer for the stage you must be ready to work hard and diversify your talents. A costume designer is expected to be able to stitch, sew, mend, and tear all sorts of different fabrics. They will also be expected to do it on the fly. (It's not uncommon for an actor's weight to fluctuate and thus render the costume unusable- unless the costume designer is able to save it!)

How does one learn all of these abilities? Well, it is possible to do independent research and practice in your own free time but it won't prepare you for the rush of the theater.

Costume designer hopefulls should break into the field by working for their local theaters. Many times a theater will take on interns. This hands on experience is the best way to learn the ins and outs of becoming a great costume designer. It's truly the best way to learn.


How to Find the Best Cosplay Convention

The world of cosplay is constantly expanding. Twenty years ago cosplay may have been seen as a niche thing but now it reigns supreme. What exactly is cosplay, though? Cosplay, an amalgam of the words "COSTUME" and "PLAY", is when a person creates a costume designed after a pop culture character and then they act out that character for fun.

The biggest gathering of these fans occurs at cosplay conventions. While it's true that there are conventions all over the world, some of the best conventions are in the US.

Probably the most famous cosplay convention is Comic-Con. Comic-Con is a convention designed for all of the different comic book, television, anime, and book fandoms to meet together. These are typically attended by celebrities and host the best of the best cosplay characters.

The most famous American cosplay convention is probably the San Diego Comic-Con. Anchored in sunny and warm California, and featuring an already huge populace, this Comic-Con is on the highest tier. Many cosplayers will plan their entire year around their attendance of this event.

If you aren't in California, or don't plan on making the trip, you can always take to the internet to find the best conventions around. A simple search for the right message board can lead an anxious cosplayer to many different events.

In fact, many cosplayers are now going into business for themselves and they are using the internet as their business platform. Checking out websites like: DeviantArt, Reddit, or even through Facebook can lead one to many of the best cosplayers and the conventions that they will be attending.

"It's already Halloween and I need a costume idea!"

Stumped for Costume Ideas? Start with a Mask.

You know how it goes: You spend all year dreaming about the cool costume you're going to put together, and then before you know it, it's already October 30th and you don't have a thing to wear! Here's an idea to throw together a makeshift costume that doesn't look so makeshift.

First, grab any cool mask you can find at the local drug store or department store. Second, raid your closet for clothes to match.

Roll your old suit or dress around in dirt to get that zombie look with your ghoul mask, or toss on an old apron splashed with red food coloring and go as a crazy old butcher with the geezer mask you found.

It doesn't matter what the mask is. Chances are you've got something in the closet, attic, basement or garage that will turn it from a cheap costume into a genius one.

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Sherril Steele-Carlin