Costuming and Cosplay

For the average American, Halloween costumes cost $28.65 in 2012. Not an exceedingly daunting number. However, there are people who are willing to pay much more.

“I personally spent a max of $800 in the lifetime of a single outfit,” fifth year Computer Science major, Joelle Scarnatti explains. Luckily, this was for both the constructing and upkeep of her Brawl Princess Peach Costume, but she knows of others who have spent far more on their costumes. “I’ve heard of people spending thousands of dollars where they buy extravagant fabrics that you can only get in New York City.”

For Scarnatti, Treasurer of the RIT Cosplay Troupe, these costumes are more meaningful and useful than your average Halloween costume. With anime conventions throughout the year, there are plenty of opportunities to go beyond simply dressing up in a costume and on to the realm of cosplay.

Cosplay – short for costume role playing – involves taking on not just characters’ looks but their personas as well. That’s why many cosplayers choose to role play as characters that they have a personal connection to. When asking Brook Kallstrom, fourth year Animation major and cosplayer, about her favorite character to cosplay as, she cut off the question with, “Definitely Korra.” Kallstrom explained that the television show “Legend of Korra” was her favorite to cosplay, saying, “I cosplay her the most and put a lot of heart and dedication into her mostly because I love her character. I think I relate to her character a lot and it’s just… she has an upbeat personality, very spunky and I like it.”

Scarnati also mentions that appreciating the character’s costume is extremely important given the extensive time that many cosplayers put into hand crafting their creations; Scarnatti herself reports spending anywhere from 30 to 100 hours per costume. She wears each of her costumes at least two or three times, and sometimes more: She has worn her favorite costume, Princess Peach, five or six times. Kallstrom dresses up even more frequently: every Friday to watch the new episodes of Legend of Korra.

“I just walk around campus for the evening in my Korra outfit,” Kallstrom said. “I get a lot of unusual stares for that.”

Kallstrom was inspired to start cosplaying in part due to her love of Halloween. For Kallstrom, “Halloween is a totally different category” of costume wearing in part because it only happens once a year. However despite the differences between the two, Halloween is still a source of excitement for many cosplayers.“I cosplay or dress up as a different character every single day of that week because I just love Halloween so much” said Kallstrom.

Third year Chemistry major and president of RIT’s Cosplay Troupe, Emily Sekera first began cosplaying on the Halloween of her senior year of high school.

For those who love Halloween and begin cosplay starting this holiday season, Kallstrom and Scarnatti recommend starting simple. Many cosplayers rely on thrift shopping and glue guns in order to save time and money. For the rest of your props, cardboard and foam are their top recommendations.

“Foam can be used to make just about anything,” says Scarnatti. And the same goes for cardboard if enough time is spent on the project. Kallstrom spent last summer constructing a gun as tall as she is for a costume of Yoko from “Gurren Lagann.”

“There was a lot of detail because it was a sniper rifle. It had a huge magazine plus the trigger, the scope and a silencer on it so it was just very complex and all made of cardboard,” Kallstrom described.

As far as what skills you will need: “Patience is a skill,” states Scarnatti. She emphasizes that it is possible to learn how to sew and to construct a detailed outfit as long as the time and effort is put in. For her, patience and focus are key. But if the time, energy and money are going to be spent on something so detailed, passion is what one really needs. Luckily for these cosplayers, that has not been too difficult to find.

“I just love being a different character and acting as that character,” explains Kallstrom. “It’s not like I’m completely ignoring myself in being this costume; I embrace [my personality] more to be the character and that’s what I love about it.”