Friday, September 20, 2013

In Defense of Casual Costuming

It's mid-September, which naturally means it's time to start planning for Halloween! I have this costume that I started working on a couple years ago. When I first started watching Doctor Who, one of the first episodes I saw was "Girl in the Fireplace." Aside from recognizing Sophia Myles (Reinette) from Moonlight, the most memorable part of the episode was the clockwork droids:

I've wanted to do a droid costume ever since. I got a plain mask from Michaels, which I decorated with Sharpie markers in a design similar to the ones seen in the show. I found a bridesmaid's dress at Goodwill which I thought would be good with some added lace at the neck and sleeves.

Yesterday I went looking for more pictures to figure out how I was going to modify the dress. Then I started looking for other people who had done cosplay droids, to see if they had any tutorials. In addition to some truly amazing costumes (see here and here and especially here) I kinda got the feeling that my idea wasn't good enough. It can be inspiring to look at other people's work, but it can be intimidating too.

There was one blog post in particular, which I will not link to, that left me feeling down. The guy who did the costume--which was honestly very good--was boasting about how his droid costume was better than all the others at the convention. He made a snide remark about someone else's costume, saying that her final mask was worse than his first attempt.

On the one hand, screw that guy.

On the other hand...well, screw that guy.

But at the same time, he's not the first person I've encountered to have that attitude, and he won't be the last. There are people in the cosplay community who feel a "casual attempt" at a costume is worse than no costume at all. "You think you can be the Eleventh Doctor with a just a suit jacket and a bowtie?" they sneer. "GTFO, noob. That's the wrong tweed fabric! Obviously! And your buttons are a quarter inch too small! And that shirt is all wrong! Don't know anything?" I won't even get into the problem of judging the person wearing the costume. That is another post for another day.

I have nothing against people who want to make their own costumes 100% screen-accurate. If that's what you want to do, more power to you. Just don't expect everyone to share your attitude. Most importantly, don't look down on those who take a different, more "casual" approach.

At its best, costuming is about showing off your talents and learning new ones along the way. The woman who decided to hide inside the dress and top it with a transparent head? Her costume is effing brilliant, and she deserves every bit of praise she gets for the hundreds of hours she put into it.

And the guy in the "wrong" jacket and bow tie? Maybe he's been too shy to cosplay before. Maybe this is his way of saying he's a fan of the show. Maybe he searched a dozen thrift stores to find that jacket because he can't afford the official replica.

Maybe he just wanted a costume he could put together in fifteen minutes. Is that so wrong? People cosplay for a million different reasons, and they're not always going to be the same as yours or mine.

In conclusion: If you can't say something nice about another person's costume, don't say anything at all.

I'll be posting progress pics soon on my own costume, so stay tuned!

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