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Dragon Con Survival Guide


Survival Tips for Costumers
Cardboard costumes: not breathable or flexible
Cardboard costumes: not breathable or flexible

Costumes are a big deal at Dragon Con. Some costumers have worked for a year or more on what they plan to wear. Organizations like the 501st Legion even have precise standards for members' costumes. Good costumes can get a lot of attention at the convention, but they can also create unexpected headaches for the people wearing them. Here's how to avoid some of the more common issues.

Carry an emergency sewing kit with you. This should include:

  • A needle and thread
  • Safety pins
  • Spare buttons, preferably matching the buttons on your costume
  • A bottle of Fray Check or other seam sealer
  • A stain-remover pen, unless the fabric you've used in your costume won't tolerate it

Do what you can to make your shoes comfortable. Comfy shoes are a natural part of some costumes. When this isn't the case, use cushioned insoles to add a little extra padding under your feet, and break your shoes in thoroughly before the convention.

Remember the practical side to wearing a costume. At some point during the day, you'll need to eat, drink and visit the restroom. If your costume is inflexible -- or inaccessible -- this may be a challenge. You'll also need to be able to get up and down stairs and escalators. Dress trains, dragging hems and fringe can catch in escalators. If your costume has exceptionally long sleeves -- like the dresses from the "Lord of the Rings" films -- you may want to pin them out of your way while eating or taking pictures.

Full-body costumes require careful planning.
Full-body costumes require careful planning.

Stay cool. Large, heavy costumes can make a big impression at Dragon Con. However, many of these costumes become very hot, very quickly. Here's how to lower your chance of overheating:

  • Use pockets inside your costume to hold cold packs or ice packs.
  • If your costume covers your head, make sure it's well ventilated -- otherwise, all of the heat escaping from your head will stay trapped inside your costume with you.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Have a noncostumed or less-costumed friend stay with you. Competing groups like Making Mischief usually have several costumed handlers who get water, food and ice packs and to make sure the other group members stay safe. This is especially important if your costume blocks your field of vision in any way.

Bring Febreeze or another odor remover if you plan to wear the same costume more than once. Atlanta is hot, and it's virtually guaranteed that you'll sweat in your costume. If you're going to wear a costume for more than one day, either wash it out or spray it down, and let it air out overnight.

Be creative when it comes to bags. Many costumers are tempted to leave their bags behind in order to make their costumes more accurate. This makes it harder to keep track of everything from your wallet to your pocket program. Another option is to find a bag that complements your costume. For example, military bags like Alice packs or olive drab messenger bags might look good with Battlestar Galactica or Stargate uniform costumes. A silver pitcher can be a suitable bag for a Galadriel costume.

Don't overpack. While it may be tempting to bring all of your costumes, you probably won't have time to change into many of them. If you have lots of costumes, a good rule of thumb is to bring no more than one for each day, one for each evening and one for each competition you plan to attend.

To learn more about costumes, Dragon Con and related topics, see the links on the next page.