Festivals are pretty awesome. Great music, exciting events, and huge crowds of people having a great time together are always fun, but the best part about going to a festival is seeing all the people in costume or, better yet, wearing a costume yourself!
Sometimes festivals, conventions, and other events become so well known for people attending in costume that the attendees become one of the main attractions. Comicon might be the most famous example, but most steampunk, horror, and anime festivals and conventions are known for the outrageous costumes people wear while they're there.
Wearing a costume is an excellent way to add a fun twist to your festival experience, but there are some things you should consider before you start shopping for accessories, like:
Is your costume safe? We all remember being taught the basics of costume safety as children on Halloween, but this is about more than whether or not the materials are flame retardant.
Can you breathe comfortably? Some costumes have full face masks or parts that go around your neck, so make sure they fit well and allow you to breathe with ease as you are walking around the convention or festival.
Does your costume have any sharp pieces, weapons, or other dangerous bits? Clothing that involves metal spikes and costumes with swords, or other dangerous gear can look pretty badass, but you have to be certain that nothing you wear or bring with you is actually harmful to you or anyone else. Make sure there are no sharp edges in case the worst were to happen and you were to be pushed into someone else or your weapon was stolen from you.
Also check - how is the temperature when you are fully dressed? If you are attending an outdoor festival in the middle of summer you might want to stay away from heavy fabrics that can cause you to overheat, and for winter festivals you'll want to make sure that your costume doesn't leave you exposed to frostbite.
If you are wearing a costume to a festival, the odds are good that you'll be wearing it all day. You want to wear something that allows you to move around with ease and won't prevent you from doing basic things like sitting, bending, or squatting. So don't go wearing an ill-fitting corset, or a pair of boots you haven't had chance to break in.
Also, keep in mind the temperature for the day and whether the festival is indoors or outdoors. Your Silent Bob costume might seem really awesome right up until that moment when you're stuck wearing an overcoat on a 95-degree day, while putting a Sherlock Holmes hat atop a Leeloo costume from 5th Element (for a truly epic "5th Elementary, my dear Watson" visual pun) in a heavily air conditioned convention center will leave you shivering and miserable for the entire day.
Exposure to the elements is also a concern, so make sure your skin is protected from the sun and that your costume won't become unmanageable if you get caught in the rain. Giant feathered wings are visually stunning, but you'll want to have a backup plan in case of rain or wind. A rain mack or even just a scarf stuffed into your backpack can work wonders!
Wearing a costume can be fun, but it can also be an expensive endeavor. Quality costumes don't always come cheap (that's why they're high quality costumes!), so you will obviously want to take your purchasing decition seriously.
Having said this, there are ways to help keep the cost of a costume low or, at least, help soften the financial blow. If you're crafty, you can DIY your costume or make pieces of the costume yourself with things you find in thrift stores and on clearance racks. You can also choose low-budget costume ideas to go for. After all, a basic serving wench costume to wear to the Renaissance Faire is much more affordable than a noblewoman's garb.
You can also reuse costume pieces to help justify the cost. Buying a costume for a festival and wearing it again for Halloween can be a helpful way to spread out the cost over multiple events. You can also reuse just pieces of a costume, like repurposing a corset purchased for the festival into your everyday wardrobe.
Depending on your costume choice, you may need to do some research to make certain it is authentic. People can be sticklers for detail when it comes to some types of costumes and they will let you know when you haven't put yours together correctly.
If you are attending a Renaissance Festival dressed a unicorn or a mermaid you probably won't hear a word from anyone about it, but a costume from an inappropriate time period might get you a raised eyebrow or two.
Going to a comic convention dressed like Spider-Ham means you probably need to get the details of that costume right or expect to endure comments from superfans the whole time you are there. Conversely, a pair of translucent wings added to pretty much any gold outfit makes you the golden snitch from Harry Potter, no other details necessary.
Wearing a costume to a festival is an excellent way to add another layer of fun to the day. With a little bit of planning, a costume can be one of the fondest memories you'll take away from an event, so make sure to really think about all the ways your costume can impact your experience.
Will you be wearing a costume to a festival this year?