Princess Cosplay

As a princess lover, I like to imagine what it would be like to live a day in the life of my favorite princesses. Thanks to the magic of cosplay, this is possible. The term "cosplay" is a mash-up of the words "costume" and "play." It originated in Japan in 1984, referring to fans who dress up at anime conventions. I learned about it through my high school's anime club, when its popularity grew heavily in America around the anime craze of the '90s. My first attempts at cosplay were feeble, to say the least. My skills took off when I studied a "Fashion Design" elective class at my school. I learned how to sew properly by both machine and hand using Simplicity patterns. After I bought a crinoline skirt at a Renaissance Faire, my gowns started to look perfectly princess. Since then, I have cosplayed as several of my favorite princesses.


Cosplay is a very expensive and time-consuming hobby, so I don't recommend doing it often unless you have a lot of free time and money saved up. I made some of my earlier princess dresses by machine. Once I started moving around, I didn't want to take the bulky machine with me, so I started doing everything by hand. Sewing machines take a while to set up and require maintenance because you have to oil them every so often. Before I took the sewing class in high school, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Simplicity patterns gave me an idea of how the fabric should be cut for the bodice and skirt. I bought patterns that looked similar to the princess dresses I wanted and then made small modifications on them. Now I can cut the fabrics into the right shapes without using any pattern as long as I have the proper measurements. The three basic measurements you need for patterns are bust, waist, and hips. After that, it's a lot of math to make sure the fabric is cut to the right length to account for the seams and breathing room.


My favorite thing about cosplay is experiencing everything as the character I'm cosplaying. I love doing fun poses that capture the character's personality and responding to events at conventions like my character would. I also enjoy when people ask for my picture. One time, I went to a hotel at Walt Disney World dressed as Silvermist from the Disney Fairies for one of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties. A little girl recognized me and got really excited. I stayed in character the whole time and did my favorite Silvermist pose. At another Not-So-Scary when I was dressed as Ariel, something Tarzan and Jane said to me reminded me of an episode of The Little Mermaid series, so I began telling them about the time Flounder and I went to the frozen north and freed the dinosaurs with Daddy's trident. They were so taken aback by the story that they couldn't figure out how to respond. Jane was left completely speechless! I guess they never saw the show.

In recent years, there have been some breakout designers who make princess costumes for people who might not have the time or resources to make the costumes themselves. One such breakout designer is Nezia Garcia, more commonly known as "Designer Daddy." He has mastered the art of creating dresses that start out as a peasant dress and magically transform into an iconic princess ballgown when a little girl spins around in it. In my Labyrinth post, I mentioned how much I love the dresses created by Firefly Path. JoEllen Elam Conway, who runs the site, has reached the status of cosplay goddess. Not only does she create tons of original faery, princess, and bridal gowns, but she also makes historically accurate versions of famous princess dresses that are more detailed and intricate than the original design. Her costumes are commonly worn for the Labyrinth Masquerade, fantasy photo shoots, or weddings for very fortunate brides.

Traci Hines has modeled Firefly Path's gorgeous re-imagining of Ariel's pink tea dress in her amazing live-action music video of "Part of Your World." Traci is one of several famous princess cosplayers who is known for her love of dressing up as Disney characters, especially Ariel. She even runs her own business, called Adorkable Apparel, where she sells Disney-themed street clothes. Another famous princess cosplayer is Richard Schaefer, who is a master of makeup and "crossplay." He can transform into lovely princesses just as flawlessly as dashing princes. Richard makes all of his own costumes and does his own makeup. Cosplaying has become so popular that there's even a reality show about it on the SyFy Channel.

Cosplay is strongly discouraged at Disney parks except during Halloween. To counter this, Disney fans created a concept known as "DisneyBounding," in which they dress up in outfits that are reminiscent of Disney characters based on color or design but are not actual costumes of those characters. DisneyBounding has exploded in popularity over the past five years or so. People enjoy bounding as more obscure characters and seeing if anyone can figure out who they're supposed to be. They think it's a fun guessing game or a secret that only other Disney fans can figure out. Personally, I'm not a fan of it because I think you should either go big or go home. If people have to guess who I'm dressed up as, I'd rather not dress up at all and just wear something nice when I visit the parks.

Dressing up is no longer just for kids. Wearing a princess dress and tiara for a day is a great way to feel beautiful and empowered and to forget the troubles of reality for a little while. Sewing is a fun hobby if you have time, but there's also no shame in wearing something made by a professional seamstress, like Firefly Path. I've slowed down on my dressmaking over the past few years, but I will take any excuse I can to wear one of my costumes, whether it's for a convention or a party.

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And the ✨Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders✨ community is alive with its cosplayers too! In our "Magic Made by Hand post (http://www.jewelridersarchive.com/posts/magic-made-by-hand/) we highlight several of the costumes fans have shared over the years.

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