Costume Tips and Tricks I have learned over the years. Take them or leave them as you choose but these are things I have found important that I wish I knew for my first costume(s) or have heard from others. Sometimes it is better to learn from the mistakes of others. 😀
1.#1 rule, always have fun!!!!!!!! If you aren’t having fun why are you doing it!
2. There is nothing wrong with buying costumes or costume parts! Sometimes it is easier based on the amount of time or cost involved. In other words sometimes it just makes more sense to purchase an item or costume!
Example: My twi’lek head tails. I purchased these because the cost and time involved in learning this skill was too great.
3. Patience is a virtue. The moment you start rushing you will mess up. And most likely h ave to start all over!
4. Give credit where credit is due! If someone helps you, like they pretty much tell you how to do the project, make sure to thank them and give them credit publicly. Same goes to photography!
a. This builds your reputation with other costumers and makes them more likely to help you with future projects.
b. You don’t want to be known as a “user”. If you aren’t aware the costume community can be very gossipy.
5. Make sure to eat and hydrate while in costume. It is surprisingly exhausting to be in costume all day. If you don’t want to eat in costume make sure to have a big breakfast before you suit up! And take a break!
6. Medical adhesive remover can make your life a lot easier! It can take spray paint off your fingers or adhesive off of products (I also use it when I rip a label off of kitchen ware).
7. If your purpose is to get amazing photos of your costume make sure to take a picture of the fabric before committing to it. Even if it is perfect for the character it may not look so perfect on film. Some fabrics look very different with a flash than with the eye. This is also important with paints.
Example: I am working on an R2D2 umbrella and got blue paint spots on other area of the white material. I used white paint to cover it but since the material had a shine to it the cover up spots show like a sore thump at some angles. I still need to figure out how to fix this for a photo shot.
8. Make sure your underwear doesn’t show. Personally, and maybe because I was a dancer growing up, I HATE panty lines! They now make seamless underwear (and thongs)! These are very comfortable and blend well with any costume. I have found them in all sorts of colors but I save my nude ones for costume because this blends into any bodysuit I wear.
Example: No black bra with a pink body suit, you will hate yourself later when you pictures. Trust me!!!!! It looks trashy and unprofessional. I didn’t even think to check this and showed up to a charity event. When I saw pictures later I was so embarrassed and annoyed with myself that my bra was so noticeable.
Another example: If you are wearing a short skirt make sure your underwear fits the character just in case it is seen!
9. Patterns are always worth making AND saving. You never know when you may have to start over or the costume will break and you need to make a new one.
Example: I had to make my Ms. Marvel three different times before I was happy with how the adhesive attached the lightning bolt. The only reason I no longer have this costume is the zipper broke and I called it quits after that!
10. Sometimes making your own pattern is easier than modifying or combining patterns. This is an advanced skill set for sure.
11. Storing your costumes in individual bins saves a lot of time when it comes to collecting everything when you need it.
a. Add a check list to each bin so you always know what you need for that costume and what is in that bin. It also helps if you want to see if an item can be used for another costume.
b. Don’t over stuff the bin because this can damage your costumes.
c. Be careful how you store your latex and masks. If stored incorrectly this can cause damage or morph the item.
12. Always dig through things you have collected for your costumes because you may already have what you are looking for and not remember that you do. This happens to me more than I should admit.
13. Always test your makeup before the day you need it (even the night before can be a bad idea).
14. Never go anywhere in costume alone. It is safer to move around with other costumers or a handler (someone there to help you). The only time I have run into issues while in costume was when I was alone.
15. Accept that not everyone has the same ideals or opinions about a costume as you. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT!!! We are all different and there are many ways to accomplish the same costume. We all have different skill level, ideas, and money to invest in our costume; which means they will be different.
16. Youtube videos can be your best friend!
17. Working with others can be more enjoyable than alone, less productive, but it builds friendship.
18. Shoes and wigs will make or break your costume so don’t skimp out on these. High quality wigs are worth the money because they look better in pictures and will hold up better if you want to style it.
19. Educate yourself on fabrics and the level of maintenance they may require.
Examples: Does it wrinkle easily and if so do you have to iron or steam it out every time I wear it.
20. Sometimes trying to save something isn’t worth it and its better to start over.
21. Test your paints before you paint anything (prop or fabric)! Especially if you are using layers to complete your project. Different colors of paints (body or ink) can have different thicknesses and adhere differently to a layer of paint than it does the fabric. You may have to add the color in small layers to get the intensity that you are going for.
22. Sometimes costumes are not appropriate for the climate a con is in.
Example: When I went to Dragon Con in 2013 I took my twi’lek costume. A friend of mine also brought his. However, it was too hot and humid that we didn’t wear them. He put his on for about 30 min before calling it quits. Dehydration is not worth it!
23. There is no problem with upgrading a costume over time. This will save you money and your skills will improve with each upgrade. This is something I have done with my Batgirl. I love my cape, boots, and gloves. However, my first suit and belt were cheap and I plan on upgrading these as I can due to the cost and not being able to make these myself. Maybe one day I will be able.
24. Things from China will take forever to get here and 90% of the time you will be disappointed. Even though it saves you money the first time you usually can’t return these items so it would have been better to spend more money the first time! At least from my experience.
What have you learned?! Share your tips and tricks with us below or email me at AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com. You may be featured in the next installment of tips and tricks! Please include your website or Facebook page to be credited!