What Are the Rules of Costuming & Cosplay?

What are the rules of #costuming & #cosplay? If you ask this question to any #costumer or #cosplayer, they’ll likely say that there aren’t any. While this is true in the sense that there is no universal costuming & cosplay group that has established any rules nor would it be possible for such a group (if it existed) to enforce them, there are rules that costumers & cosplayers should follow or face potential consequences for failing to do so, because some have.

What are these rules? Ones that apply to everyone (not just costumers & cosplayers) because they come from established laws or are established by venues, conventions, movie theaters, etc.

Wearing a costume or cosplay (including carrying props) in public does not exempt one from obeying established laws.

The Basic Rules That Apply to Everyone

1. Laws Governing Indecent Exposure

Indecent exposure is the deliberate exposure in public or in view of the general public by a person of a portion or portions of his or her body, in circumstances where the exposure is contrary to local moral or other standards of appropriate behavior. Social and community attitudes to the exposing of various body parts and laws covering what is referred to as indecent exposure vary significantly in different countries. It ranges from outright prohibition to prohibition of exposure of certain body parts, such as the genital area, buttocks or breasts.

Local, county, state, provincial & national governments have typically established laws defining indecent exposure that apply to everyone that is within their jurisdictions. If a costumer or cosplayer decides to go out in public wearing a costume or cosplay that violates indecent exposure laws, then there’s a good chance that the costumer or cosplayer is going to be arrested.

So, before wearing a costume or cosplay in public view, be sure that it doesn’t violate any indecent exposure laws that could apply.

2. Laws Governing the Wearing of Masks

Anti-masking laws refer to legislative or penal initiatives that seek to stop individuals from concealing their faces, who often do so to conceal their identities while committing a crime.

Now, while costumers & cosplayers have no criminal intent while wearing a mask (or other face-covering item, such as helmet) as part of a costume, many criminals do wear masks or helmets when committing crimes.

For this reason, if a costumer or cosplayer goes out in public wearing a mask or helmet that completely conceals their identity and it’s not Halloween or the intent of why as mask or helmet is being worn isn’t clear to the general public, then that costumer or cosplayer could find themselves being arrested or getting into trouble. We have reported multiple such instances on our blog & Facebook page. Here are 2 examples:

Here are other articles we’ve shared about people wearing costumes while engaged in criminal activity:

Thus, it is very important to know when it is and is not appropriate to wear a mask in public. 

3. Laws Regarding Civilians Wearing Military Uniforms & “Stolen Valor”

In the United States, federal laws concerning the wearing of United States Military uniforms by people not on active duty are published in the United States Code (USC). Specifically, 10 USC, Subtitle A, Part II, Chapter 45, Sections 771 and 772.

Section 771 states:

Except as otherwise provided by law, no person except a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, as the case may be, may wear –

(1) the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps; or

(2) a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps

Section 772 lists some exceptions, the most important of which that is applicable to costumers & cosplayers is listed below:

(f) While portraying a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, an actor in a theatrical or motion-picture production may wear the uniform of that armed force if the portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force.

Now, while on the surface, these laws seem pretty plain, the reality is that no court has ever really defined what a “theatrical production” is. Hence, is Halloween or attending a comic con a “theatrical production”? While this isn’t clear, the only court case where this topic has been addressed had a very liberal determination.

In addition to the laws cited above, there’s also the issue of stolen valor.

“Stolen Valor” is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds.

If you are going to wear a military uniform as a costume or cosplay, leave out any actual medals and don’t pretend that you ever served in the military. Otherwise, you can very quickly be seen as someone stealing valor. The U.S. government passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 to address issues of people attempting to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits by convincing another that he or she received a military award.

4. Laws Regarding the Wearing of Law Enforcement Uniforms, Badges & Insignia

Without going into a lot of detail, it’s generally not a good idea to wear authentic law enforcement uniforms, badges or insignias. To do so could be construed as impersonating a law enforcement officer. If you want to read on this subject further, we recommend starting here: Legal information and links to U.S. Federal & U.S. State Laws and regulations as well as Foreign National Laws governing Badges, Emblems, Uniforms, Insignias and Names.

5. Laws Pertaining to Weapons

As many costumes & cosplays include prop weapons, it’s important to remember that those prop weapons shouldn’t be carelessly taken out into public where they could be misconstrued as being real weapons. Not only could you be potentially arrested, you could imperil your own life should a law enforcement officer decide to fire his/her weapon if the officer feels that he or she (or the general public) is in some way threatened.

For specifics on laws pertaining to types of weapons, the following links are useful:

It also goes without saying that it would be highly unwise to be carrying a prop that looks like an explosive device in this day & age, especially one that looks realistic.

6. Zero-Tolerance Policies at Schools

Most public school districts maintain very strict zero-tolerance policies for weapons & drugs. Even toy weapons (that are often used for costumes & cosplays) fall under this type of policy, as well as masks & helmets.

The bottom line, don’t take any prop weapons or wear masks to or near a public school.

Venue or Convention Specific Rules

Venues and conventions often have specific rules pertaining to costumes & props. As these rules vary widely, it is the responsibility of any costumer or cosplayer planning to attend to understand the specific venue or convention rules ahead of time. While its true that some conventions change rules at the last minute, it’s very important to stay on top of them for that very reason.

Any costumer or cosplayer whose costume or props don’t meet the rules of the venue or convention won’t be allowed to enter, and these rules (especially with regard to prop weapons) have been increased considerably since the unfortunate incident of the armed man who entered Phoenix Comic Con earlier this year. Phoenix Comic Con still has very strict rules. We have written posts regarding venue & convention rules:

Movie Theaters that Ban Masks and/or Costumes

Most movie theaters continue to ban any costumes that conceal the wearer’s face following the unfortunate shooting incidents that have occurred over the past couple of years.

Concluding Remarks

No one likes being told what they can and cannot do when it comes to costumes and cosplays, but applicable laws and rules can impact what individual costumers and cosplayers are planning to do. The most important thing is to be aware of them ahead of time. If the laws & rules are too restrictive for what you were planning to do, consider doing something different. You’ll still have just as much fun without the fear of getting into trouble.

Cosplayers

References

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The Odd Direction for Kylo Ren in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” by Disney & LucasFilm

*** Spoilers *** For those who haven’t yet seen “#StarWars VIII: #TheLastJedi”, you may wish to not read this article yet.

The villainous character Kylo Ren was first introduced into the “Star Wars” franchise in the franchise’s seventh film, “The Force Awakens”. In this movie, he is usually seen wearing his now well-known black helmet as depicted below.

Masked Kylo Ren

Masked Kylo Ren

Now, here’s where the spoilers start. If you started to read this article, but haven’t yet seen “The Last Jedi”, you should stop here.

While Kylo Ren did show his face a few times in “The Force Awakens”, in “The Last Jedi”, Kylo is verbally punished & ridiculed by Supreme Leader Snoke in his throne room aboard Snoke’s massive ship. When Kylo leaves the throne room, he enters an elevator where he has a temper tantrum (he had several temper tantrums in “The Force Awakens”). During the temper tantrum, he smashes his beloved helmet (which Snoke had criticized) into tiny pieces by slamming it against the elevator’s walls several times.

(While one of the trailers showed Kylo Ren destroying his helmet, the reasons weren’t shown. This was the spoiler that we wanted to warn people about.)

Kylo Ren Holding His Helmet

Kylo Ren holding his helmet in the elevator in the movie “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi” before he destroys it.

Since this scene occurs early in the movie, Kylo Ren is never seen with the helmet on again; he’s only seen with his face.

This appears to be an odd decision by Disney & LucasFilm, which had poured tons of money into marketing Kylo Ren-based products, including costumes and helmet replicas. Most #cosplayers & #costumers who donned a Kylo Ren #costume included what had become his iconic helmet. By destroying the iconic helmet, it’s not clear whether Kylo Ren costumes will remain as popular, especially since the film has had a mixed reaction from fans. Only time will tell.

It will be interesting to see where Disney & LucasFilm go next with Kylo Ren in Episode IX.

Trailer from “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi”:

All Kinds of EVA Foam Explained by Punished Props

Bill Doran of #PunishedProps has posted a fantastic video on #YouTube explaining lots of different kinds of #EVAFoam used by #cosplayers. If you make #costumes with EVA foam or are thinking about it, you should watch this video.

He focuses primarily on types of EVA foam available in the United States, but does touch one some types in Europe and a few other places.

We’ve also shared the links to various sources of EVA foam below the video.

EVA Foam Sources:

 

Wil Wheaton Wore a “Star Trek” Costume to See “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

Life imitated art Thursday (Dec. 14, 2017) when actor Wil Wheaton wore a #StarTrek #costume to a screening of “#StarWarsVIII: #TheLastJedi”! He also tweeted about it:

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Wil Wheaton dressed in a “Star Trek” costume at a “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” screening.

Wil Wheaton & friends at the “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” screening.

Wil Wheaton, who starred as Wesley Crusher in “Star Trek: #TheNextGeneration”, appears as himself regularly in the long-running sitcom #BigBangTheory, in which he did wear a “Star Trek” costume to a screening of “Star Wars VII: #TheForceAwakens”.

References:

$5000 Stolen from “Walking Dead” Cosplayer in New Jersey

$5000 was stolen from a professional #WalkingDead #cosplayer while at the Walker Stalker Con in Edison, NJ. The money was inside a cash box where cosplayer Cecil Garner kept his money earned while taking photos with fans on “Walking Dead” character Rick Grimes.

“It was devastating,” said Garner, who left his job as a banker in 2016 to become a professional cosplayer. Edison police are investigating and have reviewed security cameras from the convention hall.

A gofundme has been set up for Garner to help him recover from the loss.  So far over $2600 has been raised.

Anyone with information about this theft is urged to contact the Edison, NJ police department.

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References:

DIY: How to Make a Santa Claus Costume

With #Christmas just around the corner, a very popular #costume at this time of year is a #SantaClaus (or #FatherChristmas) costume. While there are a variety of off-the-shelf Santa Claus costumes available, quality and cost can vary widely. There’s also the option of renting a Santa Claus costume.

Basic Components

The basic components that are needed for a Santa Claus costume are as follows:

  1. A red coat with white faux fur trim at the bottom of coat, along the coat opening and at the ends of the sleeves. Ideally, the sleeves should be wide.
  2. Matching red pants, ideally made from the same material as the coat. (There are common variations for the pants.)
  3. A wide black belt with a large rectangular open belt buckle worn over the coat at waist level.
  4. A red stocking style hat with white faux fur trim and a white cotton ball at the end. The hat should be the same material as the coat and pants.
  5. One pair of black boots. Ideally, the boots should have round toes (not square toed or pointed) and probably 12 inches tall. The boots should also have black soles. The boots can be shiny or matte. (There are common variations for the boots.)
  6. A long white beard and mustache.
  7. A red toy bag.

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Common Variations

Not all Santa Claus / Father Christmas costumes are the same. Some common variations are listed below:

  • White gloves are a very common variant, but aren’t required. Red, black or even dark brown gloves are also possible.
  • While it is common for the red pants to be tucked into the black boots, the pants can also be worn over the boots. If the pants are tucked in, white faux fur that matches the trim on the coat and hat can be used to trim the top of the shafts of the boots. If the pants aren’t tucked in, white faux fur can be used to trim the bottom of the pants legs.

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  • Coat length can vary from standard coat length (below the waist) to knee length or ankle length. Older versions of Santa Claus typically have longer coat lengths. Father Christmas is more common with a long coat length.
  • Shoulder flaps on the coat are another possible coat variant. These are typically made of the same fabric as the coast itself and should also be trimmed with the same faux fur as the bottom of the coat and coat opening.
  • Pudginess also varies quite a bit. While the traditional Santa Claus is seen as being rather pudgy, other versions (often with a longer coat) aren’t as pudgy. If you’re going for the traditional pudgy Santa Claus, you’ll want a fat suit or some other kind of stuffing to create that appearance. You’ll also need to adjust the waist & chest sizes of the coast to accommodate the amount of desired pudginess.
  • Coat and pants don’t necessarily have to be red. Some versions of Santa Claus / Father Christmas show him wearing a green coat and pants. While any color can be used, red is the best, followed by green. Once you choose a color, make sure that the pants and coat are the same color; they should not be different colors or different shades.

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  • Another variation involving the coat has it kept open with a gold-buttoned red vest being worn beneath. For this style, the vest isn’t made from the same material as the coat and can be embroidered. Also, both openings of the coat should have white faux fur trim. In this variation, the belt should be worn beneath the coat and not over it.

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  • Gold embroidery on the coat can also be added.

Materials

  • The best fabric choice for the coat and pants is velvet, but any cotton fabric can also be used. The fabric should be woven, not knit, which could stretch. Use the same fabric for the pants, coat & hat. A vest (if used) can be made using a different fabric.
  • The belt can be faux leather, not necessarily real leather.
  • White faux fur for the trim. It’s best to be consistent with the type of white faux fur being used throughout the costume.
  • Patterns for the coat, pants and hat.

Pick a Style & Have Fun

The best thing to do is to pick a style for your Santa Claus costume and then follow it to create the desired look. Then go out & have fun!