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How to Prepare for a Hall Cosplay Contest [Or Masquerade Pre-Judging]

Hall cosplay contests can be a bit intimidating, especially for first-timers, but they don’t have to be. Here are a few tips to make your experience run smoothly.

  1. Bring reference photos. Even if you are cosplaying a popular character, not all judges may be familiar with your costume. Print out some reference photos of your character from multiple angles to help with the judging process. I like to also include pictures of the processes I used to make the costume to highlight my work in case I forget to mention it while speaking to the judges. Some cosplayers take this a step further to make a fancy folder including fabric swatches and detailed photographs. While you could use your cell phone for references, not all conventions have good service and you don’t want to be fiddling with your phone during your judging timeslot. Another bonus of printing out your references is you can give them to the judges to keep for further deliberation after you have left the room.

  2. Do a test-run of your cosplay. Put all the pieces on and walk around a bit. If something seems loose or comes undone now is your chance to fix it before you go in front of the judges. And if you can, iron your costume!

  3. Arrive early. Arriving early to your judging time gives you a chance to make sure all pieces of your costume are in place before you enter the judges’ room. You can also use this time to take a deep breath and gather your thoughts.

  4. Practice your speech. Upon entering the room, the judges will greet you and ask you to tell them about how you made your costume. This is a very broad question and can get confusing if you pick and choose pieces of your costume to talk about. The best advice I have received for this situation is to start from the top of your head and work your way down. Start by talking about your hat/wig and then talk about each piece of your costume as you work your way down your body toward your shoes. Put on your costume and practice your explanation in front of the mirror until you feel comfortable with it.

  5. Emphasize your good points. When telling the judges about your costume, point out the parts you are proud of. Tell them about any special or new techniques you used. Don’t bring attention to the parts of your costume you don’t like. If a judge asks about those areas, tell them the truth, but don’t intentionally bring yourself down.

  6. When it’s done, it’s done. After every single contest I’ve been in I can always think of something I forgot to say or something I could have explained better. This just happens. Take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of the convention. There is nothing more to be done. The fact that you put yourself out there to be judged is awesome! I’m proud of you for going out there and challenging yourself! Now relax and enjoy the con!

misa amane cosplay

Even popular characters can have obscure outfits. My Misa Amane cosplay was based off of a manga artwork and is not something she wears in the series. Even if you think a character is super popular, bring references anyway. (Photo by Nibley Photography)


Want to learn more about cosplay sewing? Check out my e-book: (currently available in Kindle format, though can be read on other devices through the free Kindle app).

cosplay sewing for beginners

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