Why costume?

Committee costumes

So what is the definition of costume? According to Wikipedia it is defined as follows.

Costume is the distinctive style of dress of an individual or group that reflects their class, gender, profession, ethnicity, nationality, activity or epoch.

The term also was traditionally used to describe typical appropriate clothing for certain activities, such as riding costume, swimming costume, dance costume, and evening costume. Appropriate and acceptable costume is subject to changes in fashion and local cultural norms.[1]

As a member of the gaming community I can clearly see how costume makes an impact on adding texture and richness to the games we play, from descriptions used in RPG’s to visual representation of your character in a LARP. How many of us have been told for example by the GM detailed descriptions of a non player character so we get an understanding of who they might be and what purpose they fulfil?

“ He was a tall gentleman, richly dressed in midnight blue velvet. A nobleman’s garb indeed, embroidered with golden threads. The colour  provided a beautiful contrast to his well groomed blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. He also had an exquisitely made rapier hanging from a finely made leather belt at his side. Your eyes fall upon the crest emblazoned on his doublet. If his physical description alone wasn’t enough, the crest confirmed it. You know who it is that stands before you and what his mere presence here means for you and your party.”

As a LARPer and someone who has always had a keen interest in costume, I embrace the opportunity to use costume as a visual expression of the characters I currently and previously played. From my half-Orc who mainly wore mud brown clothes and faux fur and generally looked like she had been dragged backwards through a hedge each morning, to a political larp where I played a well-to-do lady in a black satin dress and heels. Or even the U.N. delegate who looked like a businesswoman on a mission.

Costume is not just the clothes you put together, it’s an ensemble of items to create an overall visual effect. Everything from face paint, make up, accessories, wigs and props can be added to your clothing for richness and texture to the character you are trying to portray. And it’s really fun! Gamers are awesome for complimenting each other when they appreciate the work you have put into your character. Your efforts often help others to get more into the headspace of a game and make it more immersive.

Some people find patterns scary and daunting to work with (myself included!), but there is a great sense of achievement and pride in making your own character kit.

That’s why so many choose to make their own costumes. It doesn’t have to cost an arm or a leg and no great skills are necessary – it’s all about creativity, ideas and fun! I recently made a norse style apron dress from a tablecloth which I had picked up in a charity shop for three quid – talk about a bargain!

When comes to looking for inspiration, I really like this pinterest page. It is a visual feast of medieval style clothing.

Gaelcon 2016 will kick off with a Halloween Party including a Costume and Cosplay competition. If you have a costume or cosplay in your closet or want to pull something together in the next few weeks – Go ahead! Give it a go! There are prizes to be won and fun to be had. Whether you want to get your glam on or rock some creepy rags or gorey garb, do it!  Break out and have some fun!  I will be there in costume and up to no good, you can be sure of that! And as you can see from our pictures the rest of the committee will be joining in too.

For more information check out our website.