the geek life

Bang for your buck: finding multi-tasking cosplay items

Cosplay multi-taskers

I love cosplay. I should qualify this by saying I love costuming, and very rarely dress as a specific character (though I’m hoping to change that in the coming year), but I have found over the years that such hobbies can get to be pretty expensive. I’m terrible at sewing but I’m very good at finding and collecting, and I have accumulated an entire wardrobe of pieces. That being said, there are definitely some that were more expensive than others, so how do I manage to stay within my budget? By investing in pieces that can multi-task.

If you look in the pictures at the top, you’ll see that both costumes on the left use the same green bodice, as a fairy and as a witch. That same bodice is actually reversible, and the other side looks like a tapestry with leaves and animals for when I want to change the look (the fabric matches the pouch I’m wearing in the pirate photo). It set me back about $125, but it has lasted for almost 10 years as a staple in my costuming wardrobe. I’ve been a fairy and a gypsy, a witch and a hobbit, and of course I’ve done renaissance festivals for years. It’s a versatile bodice and, because it’s in a basic green, goes with almost everything.

The other workhorse in my closet is the black dress on the right. It’s similar to the green bodice (made by the same tailor) and I’ve used it dozens of times as the base of a great cosplay. There you see it as part of my pirate costume, though it’s been a vampire and a witch, not to mention a princess (with the right accessories!) and a general merchant’s wife look.

You may notice that there are three different tops in those outfits. I find that having basics like white and black are most useful, though the short-sleeve orange peasant top has been a fun addition. My black and white tops are actually designed for men– those are generally more affordable, plus look fantastic when you gather the sleeves, or if you want to wear pants instead of a skirt.

 breaking the fourth wallHere is another example of the multi-tasking items: notice I’m wearing the same white top as the pirate costume, and though it isn’t visible, the green skirt was also part of the fairy costume (although hitched up to make it shorter). J is wearing the same top and brown jerkin as in the fairy picture as well. This photo was to showcase the pieces we acquired in April: the pants for him and the corset for me.

The next thing I want to point out is that the colors we use for our costuming are mostly interchangeable. Having pieces that all basically go together makes putting them in new combinations much easier. I stick with greens, burgundy, and black mostly, while J tends to wear black, brown and gold. Because any given top, skirt, or pair of pants will go with any of my bodices or corsets, I can mix them up into many more outfits and therefore more costumes.

Cosplay cloaks

And that brings me to the last point. Successful costuming is really all

about the accessories. Having the basics for multiple costumes is essential, but the way to make each one different (so that it doesn’t look like you’re wearing the same thing every time) is to find accessories that are specific to each one, and don’t have to cost a

fortune. The pirate scarf and some skull jewelry came from Hot Topic and made that costume pop, and I found

black boots with large buckles at a thrift store for about $7. I got to reuse the black boots for my witch costume, and will probably find many other uses for them in the future. Multi-taskers. Makeup is important, too, but that will have to be another post entirely. ^_^

Where I got my pieces:

Bodices and dress by Felix Needleworthy
Pirate scarf from Hot Topic (though it’s been a while ago, so no longer carried)
Skirts and blouses from Felix, and from Ophelia’s (I like the split-front skirt because it’s fun for layering)
Corset from Pendragon Costumes (steampunk/neo-Victorian section)
Flower headpiece was homemade by a friend.

Jewelry came from a variety of sources; I always keep an eye out for pieces that would work and get them when I see them. For instance, necklaces with coins on them work for pirates, gypsies, belly dancers, and more.
Honorable mention goes to Texas Body Hangings for the exquisite cloak I have, though they don’t seem to have a website anymore.

joanna irl, the geek life

Arizona Renaissance Festival Weekend, aka roadtrip through desert

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Two weekends ago, J and I took a roadtrip to Arizona to go to the renaissance festival that’s just outside of Phoenix. This one is the sister festival to the Carolina one (owned by the same company) and since J hasn’t been in town for one in a while, we decided to do the six hour drive and enjoy the weekend in a new state.


I’ll show you more of Actual Arizona in another post, but the thing that surprised us most was that, once we’d trudged across the sand and gravel parking lot in the middle of a desert valley, blinking in the sunlight and peering at the distant mountains… once we were inside, it was like we were in a different place entirely. There were still openings in the edges where you could glimpse the outside world, but the festival village was so well designed (and planted with trees) that it was like stepping into one of our home festivals.


Interestingly, the Arizona festival has the best design and layout of any we have attended. Both of us were impressed with how well done the whole thing was. It helped that all of our favorite performers were there, but the details were just right. The whole place was laid out in a doughnut shape, so that once you’d walked through, you were back at the beginning. The interesting thing was that there were about three different paths to take through the circle, so you could loop several times and always see something new.


The jousting arena was attached to a stable area you could visit and a castle-like structure at the back of the circle, which was impressive in its completeness (stables where you can SEE the horses during the day! the royal court has an actual place to live and not a random tent!) but also in that since it was at the opposite end from the entrance/exit, you didn’t get caught in a mob of people when jousts ended.


They even had a “reenactment” area, with people simply sitting around having lunch, singing and playing music, and watching the adjacent blacksmith demonstration. All in all, the amount of detail in creating the actual village itself was fun.

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We had a very good time wandering the grounds, going to shows, and people watching. I got my photo with Twig the Fairy (I have several now from over the years, she’s so much fun!) and then found a stand selling fairy wings… so of course that was my festival souvenir. I just have to figure out where to store them. I suspect they will get their own clear plastic bin.

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That evening we left tired but happy. We went back to our hotel and changed, then got a recommendation for a local Mexican restaurant down the street and had what is probably the best Mexican food we’ve ever eaten. You know the place is good when you compliment the server on the salsa, and he says, “Thanks! It’s my grandma’s.” Green tamales are my new favorite food.

So that is all. Look for more desert-related adventures tomorrow… ^_^