Wearing Cosplay Outside of Conventions

Cosplay has seen a huge surge in popularity these last few years. The art of dressing up as your favorite fictional character has become a worldwide phenomenon and is an essential part of geek culture. For many people, cosplay is nothing more than a fun hobby; but for some people, it’s how they make their living. As the subculture continues to grow, so too do commercial opportunities for cosplayers. Especially for those who enjoy cosplaying as popular video game characters.

If you’ve ever attended a convention like New York Comic Con or Dragon Con, or have seen photos of cosplayers at conventions, you’ll know just how much dedication and hard work is put into crafting these works of art. The level of detail in some of these costumes is simply mind-blowing and serves as a true testament to how these talented individuals are able to bring these iconic characters to life.

Not Just for Conventions

It’s not limited to the confines of conventions either. Professional cosplayers can often be seen at sponsored events, fashion shows, kids’ parties, and even the front row of a Rihanna Concert. While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cosplay, there are a couple of things you should be aware of before you take to the streets dressed as your favorite video game or superhero character.

To the casual onlooker, cosplay looks like nothing more than an eccentric Halloween costume. But to those who know better, cosplay takes serious dedication. Cosplayers invest a lot of time, money and resources into crafting these splendid costumes. It’s also a great way for die-hard fans to express their love for a certain character or franchise. Cosplay has grown so popular that we’ve even seen celebrities and sports personalities dressed as iconic characters at major sporting events. One of poker’s most colorful personalities, Phil Hellmuth donned Thor’s signature red cloak and armor, and was accompanied by models dressed as Wonder Woman at this year’s World Series of Poker. And while it may not be canonically accurate, it’s definitely one of the coolest entrances to a sporting event we’ve ever seen.

Phil Helmuth as Thor Phil Helmuth as Thor (Photo by Pokerstars)

Cosplaying in Public

It goes without saying that you should always be respectful of other people’s personal space and property. Spatial awareness is key. If you’re wearing a large costume, make sure you know how wide you are and be aware of your surroundings. The last thing you want is to be an inconvenience to the people around you. As long as you’re having fun and remain respectful at all times, pretty much everything else is fair game.

Remember that if you’re cosplaying a beloved character you need to be prepared to hear the same quotes from that character shouted at you again and again by people passing by. It can be a lot of fun at first, but it gets stale very quickly. You’ll just have to grin and bear it. You may have heard it a thousand times already, but for many people, it’s their first time seeing it.

Where you can do it

Some of the best locations for wearing cosplay outside of conventions include malls, parks, and libraries. These places are known for having special events where cosplay is welcome, but even if you’re just going on a whim there are bound to be excited children (and parents) who will be happy to see you. They can also have great photo shoot areas, though malls can vary on how welcoming they are to cameras. Wherever you go, be mindful of rules and don’t get in anyone’s way or do anything risky just to take a cool photo. 

You may also want to take your cosplay to the movies- namely the opening night of a relevant film. Be careful though, as most cinemas have rules against masks and of course, weapons. Most places will be okay with lightsabers, but anything resembling a firearm should be left at home. 

Some people organize group cosplay outings with friends when cons aren’t in season. If you have some like-minded friends, they’ll likely be happy to join you on your costumed adventures. 

Staying in character

Cosplaying is fun, and it can be even more fun if you decide to really get into character by acting out some of your favorite scenes. Try not to take it too seriously, though, as you might make some people a little uncomfortable. And if by chance you happen to run into another cosplayer who is dressed as the same character you are, just roll with it and give them a high five for sharing the same enthusiasm for the character that you have.

Be prepared for a lot of people asking questions and taking photos with you. And possibly some strange looks.

If you’re worried that your best superhero pose isn’t heroic, then make sure to check out our tips for how to take better cosplay photos.

Now that you know what to expect when cosplaying outside of a convention, remember to have fun and stay safe when you’re out there portraying your favorite characters.

About Kyle Williamson

"Captain" Kyle Williamson is a cosplayer, actor, writer, fan and author of "The Elements of Cosplay: The Costume and Beyond." He has also interviewed hundreds of actors, authors and cosplayers and has moderated panels for conventions such as Wizard World, Retro Con, Terrificon, Farpoint and Shore Leave to name a few. You can follow him on Twitter @captainkylepa and Instagram @captainkylephilly.

View all posts by Kyle Williamson

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