Cosplaying completely changes the convention experience. The crowds, schedules, lines, and costs are only more stressful once costumes are added to the mix. Here is a list of “must-haves” that will make your cosplay experience easier.
1) Emergency Repair Kit
This is a large kit that you keep in your car or hotel room for the length of the convention. It should include a sewing kit, duct tape, fashion tape, a hot glue gun, industrial glue, masking tape, permanent markers or touch-up paint in the colors of your costume and props, stain remover, and fabreeze. Crazy things happen at conventions and it’s best to be prepared for anything.
2) Business Cards
These make a cosplayer’s life a lot easier. Nobody wants to take time to spell out their Twitter handle or email address in the middle of the busy convention floor. You don’t have to spend money on these. Even if you just write your contact info on a bunch of post-its ahead of time, photographers and other cosplayers will really appreciate it.
PRO TIP: Be careful not to put your personal phone number or full name on these cards, unless you are willing to deal with stalkers showing up at your house. Set up a cosplay email account if your email address includes your last name… or if you have a crazy complicated email address.
Pockets are one of the most difficult things to build into a costume, especially women’s costumes. A place to store your cell phone, your ID, and a credit card are worth more than gold when it comes to working the convention floor. Whether it’s a hidden pocket glued into the top of your go-go boots, a small matching bag that you make out of extra fabric, or a significant other who is willing to follow you around with a backpack, it is vital that you have a way to transport your stuff. Make sure you at least have your ID somewhere on you in case something happens.
4) Floor Kit
This is the mini version of your emergency repair kit and should go with you around the convention. I highly suggest fashion/2-sided tape (the pre-cut strips are best), small tube of super glue, eyelash glue, and lipstick are the musts. If you have room in your bag or pockets, I also suggest masking tape.
5) 3 Different Poses
You will get asked to pose for pictures so put some thought into it before you arrive at the convention. Photographers will usually shoot a few pictures in a row, but they will lose interest faster if you stand frozen in the same pose for all of them. Try to hold a pose for a few seconds, then switch it up. Practice poses at home in front of a mirror, or have a friend shoot pictures of you. Most people at conventions are not professional photographers and they will do you no favors by setting up the shot or making you look good. Practice makes perfect!
6) A Posse
Conventions are big places where all manner of people are shoved into a high stress environment together. If you can, attend a convention with friends or other cosplayers. They will hold your props while you stand in the bathroom line, help keep an eye out for up-skirt camera pervs, and take pictures of you when you see your favorite celeb.
7) Snacks & Water
Dehydration and empty stomachs can ruin your day very quickly. It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when you are caught up in enjoying yourself. Suddenly you realize that you haven’t eaten in six hours and the line for the nearest food is 45 minutes long. Have a granola bar hidden somewhere on your person. Water is harder to transport (and bathroom breaks are a pain in some costumes) so be sure you hydrate extra in the days leading up to the convention.
8) Gum or Mints
Conventions are crowded. Bad breath sucks. Enough said.
9) Costume Check List
These will help you get your entire costume to and home from the convention. Nothing sucks more than getting dressed and realizing that the amazing belt buckle that you made is still on your sewing table. It’s even worse when you realize that you left a vital part of your cosplay at the hotel when you were in a hurry to head home. A check list makes sure every little bit stays with you. It’s worth the extra effort.
10) A Plan
Conventions are becoming very popular. Parking, tickets, hotel rooms, and panel lines can be a real nightmare. Trust me, there is NOTHING worse than showing up for a convention in costume and figuring out that the only open parking is six blocks away. Do your research ahead of time. Know where the parking is and how much it costs, buy your tickets days or weeks before, and know the costume and prop rules for the event. It will save you a lot of time, stress, and disappointment in the end.