Being The Worst Cosplayer

Image By Rebecca Angel

What defines the worst cosplayer? Perhaps not remembering much about the character. Not even their real name. That was me!

Image By Luke Maxwell

This is She-Ra, Princess of Power. In case you aren’t familiar with her, you might know her brother He-Man. When I was little, I watched He-Man on a regular basis, and then She-Ra too. I have fond memories of visiting my Grandma with my sister. First we got a snack of two cookies (never enough!) and a cup of milk (eww, but I had to drink it.) Then we would sit in front of the TV and watch those two cartoons.

Skeletor was seriously bad when I was six. The speedos didn’t faze me. I wondered why that scene of He-Man throwing a rock was in every show. I loved, loved, loved She-Ra’s pegasus. And she was so cool.

Flash-forward to now, decades later. My sister decided she wanted to be She-Ra for Halloween last Fall. Our mother made a fantastic costume. Getting ready for ConnectiCon this year, I remembered the costume and decided I could cosplay! I haven’t cosplayed in several years, and with no work involved getting it ready, I figured I was all set.

Forgot about the research part. Research? Yeah. I watched the cartoon thirty years ago, so my memories are really, really vague. It didn’t occur to me that I should review some stuff before going to a geeky convention where people might actually be FANS of my character. Oops.

It started the morning I was getting my costume on at a house crowded with people all going to the Con.

ME: (getting the headpiece on over the wig)
CON-GOER 1: You look adorable!
CON-GOER 2: That’s fitting since her name is Adora.
ME: No. I’m She-Ra.
CON-GOER 2: Right… and her real name is Adora.
ME: It is?
CON-GOER 1: (laughs)
CON-GOER 2: (sighs)
ME: Didn’t He-Man have another name too?
CON-GOER 2: Yes.
ME: Kevin?
CON-GOER 2: Adam.
ME: Damn.

I filed that information away in case someone called me Adora instead of She-Ra. I was all set! Except I wasn’t. The first person to recognize me unfortunately knew way more about the show.

REAL FAN: She-Ra! Yes! Great costume!
ME: Thanks!
REAL FAN: Watch out for (insert random strange name here.)
ME:…um…yeah! Yeah, I will!
(Walking away with my son)
ME: Was it obvious I had no idea who she was talking about.
MY SON: Yes.
ME: Damn.

I ran into the fellow con-goer from the morning and pumped her for more info. I couldn’t remember most of what she told me (should have written it down) but I did remember the power sword words: “For the honor of Grayskull… I am She-Ra!” Good for me. By the end of the day, I didn’t run into anyone who quizzed me, but I did get some thumbs up from fans, and one photo taken. Yay!

Next time I cosplay I promise to know a little more about my character before parading around. I really am a fan of She-Ra, just a very old one.

Do You Have The Cosplay Bug?

Whoops! Wrong bug. \ Image Flickr user pikawil100, some rights reserved
Whoops! Wrong bug. \ Image: Flickr user pikawil100, some rights reserved

Five years ago, the costume bug bit me hard. The only known cure was to build a costume of my own and wear it out to as many conventions as possible. What no one told me was that the cure was addicting. Once you built one costume, there was a good chance you would want to build another, and then another, and so on.

With five years of experience in the craft under my belt, I’d like to share with you some symptoms that you may exhibit if you too are bitten by the costume bug. If any of these sound like you, I suggest you immediately… do nothing. It’s a fun hobby and you could be doing worse with your time after all.

You know you’re a cosplayer when…

You have more reference pictures of your current build than you do of your own children.

You hoard JoAnn Fabrics coupons and know all the tricks to getting the best deals (including using competitors coupons).

Clip: Galaxy Quest

When you meet someone new,  your first thought is which character they would look best in.

Your friends no longer question how you cut yourself and instead ask what costume you were working on at the time.

Clip: Star Wars Episode V

You walk into Home Depot and see endless possibilities that have nothing to do with actual plumbing or home improvement.

Someone asks you what you think about a particular character and instead of remarking on their personality, you comment on how difficult their costume would be to build.

You know the true value of duct tape, super glue, and a sewing kit in an emergency.

duct tape
Clip: Mythbusters duct tape special

You’ve done household chores in various costume parts because you are testing out your mobility and comfort levels.

Your garage is filled with tools and supplies that have never been used for their intended purpose.

You have more costumes than work appropriate clothing.

arrow cool
Clip: The Flash series premiere

You openly admit to skinning leather couches you see on the side of the road for project material.

You have to advise your spouse that those empty bottles on the table are NOT trash & not to dare throw them out. They will eventually become rocket boosters.

You get excited for new costume ideas more than new plot lines.

Clip: My Little Pony – Power Ponies, The Hub

Your desk has been covered in partially painted deconstructed Nerf gun parts for the last six weeks.

Your spouse starts asking if this bronzer/eye shadow/nail polish is yours or mine?!

Special thanks to my Facebook friends and fellow GeekMoms for their contribution to this article.

Cosplayer’s Survival Kit

Cosplay Emergency \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Image: Dakster Sullivan

It’s not uncommon for something to go wrong while wearing a costume. The trick is learning how to handle it with what you have on you. I’ve worn a range of costumes from armor to body paint and they all require a few basic principles when out and about. If your character has a bag of some sort as part of their costume, you’re in luck. For the rest of us who have to make do with our pockets or utility belts, it can be a bit harder.

Sewing kit
Image: Dollar Tree

The Empire didn’t exactly issue your average backpacks to the clones, so when it comes to my armor costume, I have to rely on someone else to carry my emergency supplies. In this case, I get the individual sized super glue packs at the Dollar Store and I pre-cut some duct tape in the color of my armor. That’s really all you can do when you have a hard plastic build. Zip ties are great to keep on hand as well and are Empire approved.

If your build has some soft parts where you can store a few necessities, here is what I suggest you keep on you.

My personal favorite emergency kit item is an emergency sewing kit I found at the Dollar Store. It’s just small enough to fit into my Batgirl pouch, but large enough to hold everything listed below, with some room to spare. The clear bag makes it easy to check your supplies quickly.

A few things I added to this kit are:

– Hand sanitizer to keep the con crud away
– A contact lens case filled with paint for touch ups (get one that screws shut)
– Cotton balls (for applying paint)
– Small comb (you want to look your best in the paid photo ops don’t you?)
– Needle and thread in the color of your soft parts
– Pre-cut duct tape in the color of your costume (next to C4, it’s the most useful stuff on the planet)
– The individual use size super glue (your local dollar store should sell something like this).
– Rewetting drops / spare set of contacts
– Chapstick

When it comes to snacks, I like to keep beef jerky, gum, and small candy that won’t melt. It’s not much, but when you’re hungry and the lunch line is an hour long, it will make a difference in your stomach.

For hydration, I’ve discovered that the squeeze and go apple sauce packets double as disposable water bottles. Freeze a couple apple sauce packets the night before and store them in your pockets the day of the convention. Once you eat the apple sauce, fill it up with water from the water fountain and you have a nice little stash to keep you from dehydrating.

Do you have a go-to item for costuming emergencies? Share it with us in the comments. We’d love some ideas on what to add to ours.

Kick-Butt Disney Princess Cosplay, No Princes Needed, Thank You Very Much

Image: The Will Box

The thing with the Disney princesses is that parents, and especially moms, seem to take one of two sides. They’re either fine with the pretty princesses and their flowing locks and their penchant for getting into trouble that requires saving by a prince, or they find them horribly objectionable for those very same reasons. I fall into the first group.

Image: The Will Box

I’m totally fine with the Disney princesses and I loved it when my girls were young and wore costumes all day. One loved Cinderella and by the time she outgrew that phase, and the dress, it was nearly as tattered as Cinderella’s rags. I’ve often wondered if they’ll still like the princesses and have favorites once they’re adults.

Image: The Will Box

This group of women clearly never outgrew their fondness of the Disney princesses and decided to cosplay the characters as warriors instead of damsels in distress. I absolutely love this cosplay and the fact that these princesses are perfectly capable of saving themselves, their princes, and probably everyone in the land!

Jasmine: Gladzy Kei
Megara: Megan Langan
Elsa: Jessica Nigri
Anna: Vivid Visions
Cinderella: Jessica Roh
Snow White: Andy Rae
Ariel: Caroline Dawe

Photography: The Will Box

You can see even more pictures from the photo shoot over at Fashionably Geek.

Win a Free Costume Up To $75 From Costume Super Center!


Con season is upon us, so it’s time to decide what you’re going to wear, cosplayers! Although some of you may spend countless hours crafting just the right costume, for those of us not so creative, the folks at have got you covered.

They’ve even created some fantastic guides, like this Guide to Star Trek Uniforms, and they have something for every Trekkie (or Trekker, your call) no matter which show or movie is your favorite. You can be a redshirt from The Next Generation, or maybe you’d rather be in command with this Star Trek movie gold shirt.


The choice is yours, and now you have the chance to win the costume of your choice up to $75 value from CostumeSuperCenter! Simply head on over to my TotalFanGirl to enter. Good luck!

Halloween Make Up Tips

All images: Makeup by CG

You don’t need a full-blown costume to make a splash on Halloween, just a good make up artist. Connecticut-based make up artist Christen Gundersen, has been posting regularly on her facebook page since she first got the Halloween bug back in August! Take that party dress and transform yourself into a Zombie pinup, pull out that wedding dress for a Tim Burton-esque bride, the beauty is in the make up.


You can get inspiration of the spooky and Steampunk variety on pinterest, and on more basic makeup techniques for costuming on the Makeup by CG blog.

For the zombie look: Makeup by CG recommends the mixing of red blood and black zombie blood for a more realistic wound. After color has been achieved, the trick to making it look wet and real is Vaseline and blending. You can achieve that after life look by lightening the color of your face, whilst simultaneously darkening the eyes. Don’t be too liberal with the whitening, Zombie clowns just aren’t fun!

For the steampunk look: Contrast is your friend. Bright lips, dark hair. Light hair, dark lips. The opposing colors will bring out the juxtaposition of old and new that is associated with steampunk. If you aren’t afraid of a little adhesive, try attaching some small metal gears to your face, metallic is your friend.

SteampunkGeneral tips to keep your Halloween make up in place:

– First make sure your face is clean, oil-free but moisturized, then prime away.

– You not only need to prime your face, but your eyes too. Makeup by CG prefers powder blushes and shadows over creams. Creams can smear, melt, and run more easily.

– When lining your eyes, try liquid liner instead of a pencil. Pencils have a wax base, when wax heats up it melts, a no go for costume night. If you do use a pencil, it is a good idea to set your liner with a coordinating shadow color.

– Make sure that your lips are moisturized well and exfoliated before applying lip color.

– Line your lips before your lipstick. This helps to stain the lips, keep the color lasting longer, and helps keep color within the lines better.

– Once you achieve the look you want, make sure to use a setting, translucent, or blotting powder.

If it’s more than tips you’re looking for, and you are in the Connecticut area, you can book yourself in for a Halloween transformation party. Makeup by CG has a wide variety of props. You provide the main costume and they provide hair and make up to channel your inner monster.  You can bring friends and adult beverages to this event, music and atmosphere provided.

Felt Masks: A Quick Costume Change

All Images: Sarah Pinault

There are many ways in which people attempt to leave the narrow confines of their world. Some people read, these days most people blog, some like to sit in the woods looking for fairies, to each their own. I find that in my everyday normal life, I often have cause to step out of myself for a moment, and when I do it is handy to have a disguise on hand. Whether it be for a quick costume change to aid a getaway, or an impromptu street performance, I find the face mask to be an ingenious tool of disguise for everyday wear. My children tend to agree, my co-workers less so.

The base of the most flexible yet sturdy face mask is three layers of felt. Much like the perfect omelet, two will suffice but three is so much better. With a piece of elastic, some hot glue, and embellishments you will be ready to take on any situation.


You will need:

Felt pieces
1/4 inch elastic
A sewing machine and/or hot glue gun

Here are patterns for the masks I find most consistently useful:

Dapper Man
If you are called into afternoon tea unexpectedly, this can be used to cover up any misadventures of the morning.

Pirate—fully ocular
The addition of a patch would make this a 2-for-1 costume change. Be advised that your pet will also need a parrot mask in order to complete your disguise.

The placement of brains and scars should be to your preference. I prefer my frontal lobe to be exposed on the left side, but adjust according to taste. With the Zombie mask, I like to attach the hair piece with red thread, this more appropriately resembles the blood seeping from the brain.

A pattern has been provided for a very symmetrical robot, but this mask may be decorated as you will. Be warned that with the addition of too many controls, you run the risk of your own consciousness being assimilated into the robot hive mind.

DSCI0892There are several methods by which these masks may be constructed. Hand stitching would certainly be an option, but is rather laborious. Unless you are channeling your inner pioneer I would not advise this method. The sewing machine produces the most sturdy masks, ones that can be washed with more urgency—useful when on an undercover zombie killing spree. I find that a sewing machine/glue gun combo works best for me, even after accidentally gluing one of them to the table and burning myself rather badly.

The first step when making any mask is to print out the pattern and test it for size. The mask plans included here work well on a child or an adult, but if you need to space the eye sockets differently, or prefer more facial coverage, then increasing the size at which you print should give you your preferred look.

DSCI0905For the most part, the base of the mask will always be constructed first and independently of the details, though you can adjust this according to your preference for glue gun or sewing machine. In the construction of the base you will be attaching the elastic strap and defining the eye sockets.

Position the three layers of felt together. Begin to sew as pictured in the instructions, with a starting point three quarters of the way up your right eye (facing out).

When you reach the same position on the left eye, you will insert the elastic about a quarter inch in and continue to sew.
DSCI0893As you approach your starting point, insert the other end of the elastic and sew the mask together, ending your stitched over the elastic.

Sew around the eye sockets.

Trim any excess felt caused by shifting materials. With the Zombie mask be careful not to cut off the sunken eye, in this case excess is the effect you are going for.

Most of the details are best attached after the main mask has been constructed—by hot glue gun or by hand stitching if you have the patience. You can opt to run them through the machine, but the smaller pieces will often get stuck. Again all bets are off with the Zombie mask, as a crumpled up piece of felt with excess thread bunched up might actually be an advantage. For Dapper Man this will never do.

You are now ready for the Zombie apocalypse or afternoon tea, whichever comes first.