hat is cosplay, costuming, historical costume, LARP, crossplay, and femme cosplay.
- Cosplay, short for 'costume play', is taking a character from an existing body of creative work and dressing up as that character, especially when the character is from comics, film, anime or manga. For example, if you are a guy and dress up as Superman every year for Halloween because you really relate to that character, guess what? You are cosplaying Superman. There's a bit of cosplayer in you.
- I am a costumer. A costumer is someone who goes through the process of designing, sewing, crafting, and otherwise creating a costume to wear themselves or for others to wear. This process is also known as costuming. Some cosplayers are costumers. So if you made that Superman costume yourself, then you are a costumer who cosplays Superman.
- There are costumes that don't fall in the cosplay category. The main intent of the costumer is to recreate clothing from a certain period of time. These are called historical or period costumes. Sometimes these costumes are worn to living history events where acting like the character is of importance. This is called reenactment. So your Superman cosplay won't get invited to participate in a Wild West reenactment. That's a shame, because you’d be the fastest gun in all the west!
- There are times when the purpose of the costume is to dress up and play out a story or game. There is no intended audience. This is called Live Action Role Play or LARPing. It's an audience away from dinner theater. I've never participated in a LARP, but I hear they’re lots of fun. So if you and a bunch of your friends all dress up as Superman to play out 'Who killed Superman…the parallel dimension game!', then you are all LARPing. Hint: It could be the smiling bald guy holding the kryptonite.
- Then there's crossplay. This is a variation of the words 'crossdress' and 'cosplay' This is when the character portrayed is of the opposite sex of the person wearing the costume. I've seen some awesome Doctor Who crossplays, and even a Jack Sparrow or two. So if you decide to ditch the Superman costume and dress as Lois Lane to the LARP because there couldn't be a Superman LARP without Lois, then you are crossplaying Lois Lane.
- There are times when a certain type of costume becomes a subculture fashion. Some costume genres that have gone the way of fashion are Lolita, Goth, and Steampunk. So let's say you and your friends make a habit of wearing your Superman costumes on the way to your weekly LARP event. A year later you see people dressed as Superman driving down the highway, waiting at the train station, or walking home to their hi-rise apartment buildings. Congratulations, you've started a fashion trend! Expect to see lots of Superman clothing in your local Hot Topic this fall.
- Sometimes a woman might cosplay a male character, but not as a crossplay. They'll make a female version of the male character. I don't know if there is an official name for it, but I know the term femme helps define it. So if you invite your girlfriend to your first Superman convention, and she dresses as a female version of Lex Luther, she's a femme Luther. She might wear a black jacket, silver vest, ruffled jabot, pencil skirt, black patent heels, and style her hair in a tight chignon. Now that's a nice looking couple right there!
- There are people who dress up in costume to present a story in front of an audience. These people are called actors, and are usually involved in theater, television, or movies. So if you've ever played the part of Superman in motion pictures or theater, then in all purpose you ARE Superman. Cosplayers dress up as YOU. You win!
- Finally, no matter what you wear or where your cosplay takes you the most important thing to remember is to have fun. Don’t take it too seriously because costume possibilities are endless.