Cosplay has been around for almost a hundred years, which is a really cool thing to think about. Tons of people love their fandoms enough to proudly show their love by wearing it (literally) on their sleeve. SDCC is widely regarded as a cosplay mecca and this is a fun place to join in on the fun.
How do I start cosplaying?
Cosplay is always a work in progress, so the easiest way for you to start is to just give it a go. There are tons of websites, Pinterest boards, and blogs dedicated to all kinds of different styles and types of cosplay. Lots of them will give walkthroughs, advice, and suggestions to their followers about how to build different parts and pieces of costumes, whether it’s something as simple as sewing or as complicated as building massive armor pieces and weapons. You can also find character models (especially for video game characters) that will give you a 360 view of the costume you’re looking to build. Give your character, show, game, or movie a quick Google, throw it into Pinterest, or Facebook and see what you come up with. Chances are, you’ll find some great suggestions.
From personal experience, I suggest starting with an easier project that would involve normal clothing, and then move into more complicated work. It’s easy to throw together an outfit from your favorite episode of Parks and Recreation, Doctor Who, or Gravity Falls, especially if you already own things like boots or jeans that look similar to what the character is wearing. Once you start to get the hang of things, you can move into more complicated builds, sewing your own pieces, adding in custom boots, helmets, and armor depending on the costume. Don’t get discouraged if something goofs up, either. You’re building something really cool from scratch, and you should be proud.
But what if stuff breaks
Everyone who cosplays runs into this situation at some point. Something gets stepped on, dropped, or just simply breaks (especially if you’re in the exhibit hall, where getting trodden on, bumped, and bruised is a right of passage). Don’t worry, you can prepare for this! You can always pack an accident, or “oh shit” kit to bring to the con. Packing your basics (super glue, shoe glue, a needle and matching thread, fashion tape, and safety pins) will usually cover your bases in the case that there’s a minor blowout. Depending on your particular costume, you may need to bring other things (like body paint and sealant for example). There are usually fantastic groups that wander the convention offering repair help, as well. In 2017 there was a SyFy booth that provided items (free of charge, too!) as well as carts that roamed the Gaslamp District assisting cosplayers in need. If you don’t want to (or can’t) find one of these, there’s always the stores around the area (Target, various drugstores, there’s even an Ace Hardware!) to buy supplies from.
Cosplay and consent
Even if you aren’t participating, cosplay is super cool to see at a convention. If you see a cosplay or cosplayer you like, please be respectful and follow a couple simple rules. Want a picture? Just ask. Instead of just snapping a photo, ask the person if you can have a picture. Try and step out of the flow of traffic and snap away! This is SUPER helpful on the convention floor, as you can clog up entire aisles with photos. You’ll run into this enough by the end of the convention that it’ll more than likely become a massive pet peeve when you bump into this happening as well as a safety hazard. SDCC also specifically has no stopping rules on the convention floor to ensure everyone’s safe exit in case of emergency. They can and will kick you out if you don’t listen to them. Also, don’t reach out and touch the cosplayer or their costume without permission. It’s not cool and it really freaks people out when they’re randomly touched, stroked, or grabbed. It’s also an easy way to get hit by the cosplayer and/or kicked out of the convention by staff. Most conventions have rules like this posted around the floor, so it’s really important to make sure you follow them to enjoy your on convention experience, as well as other people.