Seriously though, I have so much respect for cosplayers who put incredible amounts of effort into choosing their materials carefully or put such effort into fabricating their costumes that their final product looks “easy.” I don’t know if it’s an actual named psychological phenomenon, but I’ve noticed on multiple occasions that I’ll look at a really cohesive-looking costume, be like “oh wow that’s pretty neat,” then look at it closer and be like “HOLY FUCK YOU HAD TO DO WHAT TO ACCOMPLISH THAT??”
A few examples:
- My friend Stellawind has been working on her Bilbo Baggins housecoat for months and months and months. All the fabrics were painstakingly selected and dyed to match the reference pictures as closely as possible, and she even had to correct for the fact that the coat in real life appears much different than the coat that’s in the movie because the post production people have corrected for the fact there was ELECTRIC GREEN greenscreens everywhere that reflected light onto the coat. I know how hard she worked on it and I’ve cleaned up scraps of that coat from almost every room in my house.
And the closer the coat got to being finished, the more unimpressive it seemed at first glance. My brain started processing it as a single, cohesive unit instead of the patchwork monstrosity of labor and pain that I knew it actually was. When it was finally done, it looked to me like she had just found an old patchwork quilt at a thrift store and made a coat out of it. I had to remind myself that no, actually, everything was carefully calculated and planned out to produce that effect.
- The color selection on Dessi Desu's Elsa dress blows my mind, and I probably wouldn't have even noticed it if I hadn't been wracking my brain on how to do the exact same thing for over six months.
Do you see how the color transition between the skirt and the bodice is almost seamless despite being made of different materials? And how there’s a slight gradient within the bodice as well, with paler sequins towards the top? That’s because it’s like that in the actual movie and so far I have not seen anyone else get that detail nailed down, not even me.
Holy shit, please hold me. But I would bet some hard cash that the majority of the people who see this costume will not notice how fantastic the color match is, because they’ll be seeing the entire costume as a single functional unit.
- Amanda's hand embroidery on her Anna coronation gown was another thing that I saw get waaaay less attention than it deserved. The skirt and bodice were embroidered entirely by hand, and there were multiple people at Gen Con that came up to talk to us while we were in Frozen cosplay together that gave the general impression they thought her skirt was machine embroidered.
Even our craftsmanship judge for the masquerade had a fairly muted response to the skirt. Any time a passerby would commented on how they her outfit and grind their faces into it while hissing “one hundred and fifty hoursssssss” into their ear.
But that would have probably gotten facial oils on the dress and really weirded out Amanda, so I didn’t.
TL;DR - I have so many feelings about materials selection and little repetitive tasks. It’s like the most tragic part of craftsmanship, because if you do it well then causes people to cross some sort of psychological threshold where they don’t notice it anymore.
All of these.
I remember very vividly a girl who cosplayed Yuna at Katsucon like…. 2004 or 2005. Almost 10 years ago now. She did a skit where she was the only girl in costume, and she was surrounded by people in black morphsuits doing poi with pyrefly props as she did the Sending. When she won best-in-show, the crowd literally booed her, because they had seen other skits with more people in costume, more showy. The Emcee shut us all up and shouted, “SHE EMBROIDERED EVERY SINGLE FLOWER BY HAND.” and everyone made this choked gasp sound. They had a handheld camera, and went up to look at her skirt in-detail, and sure enough, she not only had done the vines by hand, but each blossom was done in RIBBON EMBROIDERY. It was fucking beautiful.
It’s something I try to think about with strangers’ cosplays. It might not look impressive from a distance, but get closer, and you’d be amazed. And, don’t just assume, “oh, they did it with a machine.” I know ceruleancynic does all her costumes by hand.