Fandom convention season is coming around the corner. Creative fans work hard every year building props and costumes to bring our favorite heroes to life. At first, cosplay was just an eccentric hobby for the geeky exhibitionist. Fans were delighted to see Batman arrive at their own comic or anime convention, and the art form has picked up in popularity. Cosplay has gained so much popularity it borderlines mainstream within the convention scene. We are now delighted to see ten Batmans, and Jokers, and Harley Quinns roaming the convention halls.
I have Uni-Kitty and Delirium costumes hidden in the back of my closet. But, a single fandom convention is usually three or four days out of the year. I need something to wear on the other 362 or so days. Going out in the world in a color blocked rave costume or a tattered suit never crosses my mind, but it would be nice to have the option to bring these characters to life more often.
Fortunately, I discovered fandom fashion, casual cosplay, or closet cosplay. The idea is that one can dress as a character using regular street clothes. This means I can cosplay every day and maybe people will know and maybe they won’t. We can go from just seeing Batman at cons to seeing pseudo Batman shopping at the mall.
I work at a trendy retail chain in my local mall. Part of my job is to dress in a way that brands my company’s aesthetic. This means dressing in clothes that are fun, feminine, and trendy. But, sometimes my inner nerd wants to rebel and bust out the Sailor Moon merch. Sailor Moon does not happen to brand my company’s aesthetic, but the clothes Usagi Tsukino wears kind of do. Maybe I can dress like Sailor Moon without being Sailor Moon and get away with it all at work.
Thus, I conducted a social experiment. I ‘cosplayed’ at work to see if anyone noticed. I dressed in the spirit of my favorite characters whilst adhering to my company’s dress code. I did not say anything to my coworkers like “Hey guys! I’m cosplaying a pokeball today. Don’t I look like a pokeball?” Instead, I just showed up dressed as a pokeball and waited for someone to notice. If they did notice, I would say “Why, yes; I am dressed as a pokeball. Thank you for noticing.”
Here’s what happened:
Day 1: Ariel
I started my experiment with what I thought was my most obvious cosplay, Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I wore a hat that read “Maybe I’m A Mermaid.” I wore colors of Ariel’s lavender seashell bra and her turquoise fin.
A little girl looked at my hat and said that maybe she too, was a mermaid. She happened to wear a shirt that said “Mermaids have more fun.” Two people liked my shorts because they are fashionable. But, no one made the mermaid connection or said anything about my hat.
Day 2: Luna
I chose to cosplay Luna from Sailor Moon at work because wearing cat ears to work was a subject I wanted to address.
Ears are usually accepted as a costume piece, and by that logic would not be allowed at work except on Halloween. But, cat ears are trendy and you can buy them from my company as well as other stores in the mall. Ears are allowed at work as long as they are trendy and not costume-y. I got my cat ears from my company, so they were definitely safe.
I got compliments on my ears from a girl who was also wearing ears and from Angel, a co-worker who wears cat ears to work more frequently than myself. I was little bit uncomfortable in this outfit, partly because the ears pinched the side of my head, and partly because I spent a good deal of my time worrying about whether or not I could pull off cat ears as well as Angel does. I chose the galaxy leggings because Luna is from outer space, and also to balance the quirkiness of the ears.
I wore a necklace set with a crescent moon and stars to suggest the Sailor Moon theme. Nobody cared.
Day 3: Piglet
You can’t see it in the picture, but I have my hair in pig tails too. A lot of people liked my outfit, especially my choker set. No one looked at me and said, “Hey, you’re Piglet!” Not that I expect anyone to. My thesis remains strong; you can cosplay in the world and completely blend in.
Day 4: Pokeball
This is my favorite outfit because it is the most elegant. I got a lot of compliments on my clothes, although no one called me a Pokeball.
Day 5: L
I had fun dressing as L from Death Note. I felt most accurate out of all my costumes because I wore eye makeup like L. Also, L is so dang sexy. Leslie, an assistant manager, noticed my necklace had an L instead of an A for Alison. But, she justified it as an L for Lee, my husband. My manager, Amber (shout out to the best manager ever!), did ask me why I had an L on my necklace. Finally! Someone asked my a question about my clothes.
I told Amber it was an anime reference about a detective code named L. We talked about my project and she told me that my costumes looked like normal clothes from our store. Hooray! I cosplayed at work and totally fit into the dress code.