My name is Colleen. I have loved cosplay since I learned what it was. I always felt more confident when I was dressed as a fictional character. My biggest obstacle to cosplay was, and still is, finances and a lack of any actual knowledge on how to make clothes. I could always make my own accessories for the most part, but I probably did it in ways that would cause physical pain to professional cosplayers.
But when I could afford it, I loved throwing on some regally blended fabrics bound together with thread and wandering around a giant building to see what everyone else was wearing.
One of the days of Ohayocon 2014, I went as Dean Winchester alongside a friend who was my Sam.
Every part of that cosplay was something that I had pulled out of my own closet and (for the most part) would wear on a daily basis. The denim miniskirt is the exception to that because it limits my ability to do high kicks and the pockets are way too small.
Throughout the day, I reveled in my ability to sit normally, eat without worrying about ruining extravagant makeup and my ability to breeze past bathroom stalls that were struggling to contain more than one human as a small army would be helping one person try to figure out how to pee in 8 layers of costume.
I felt so confident that day. Even though they were so simple and so practical, our clothing made us instantly recognizable as the Winchester Brothers and we actually had people wanting to pose with us for pictures. It was one of the greatest feelings in the world.
I started creating more of these characters from clothes I already owned. I began to solely create cosplays from street clothes. Every now and then, I would purchase a specific piece for a specific character, like I did for my Wayne’s World cosplay with my best friend:
But for the most part, if I know I’m going to a convention, I’ll raid my own closet for ideas before I go spend a bunch of money I don’t have on something grand.
The moment that ended up being the fuel for this blog actually happened about three years ago. I had just gotten my first office job after almost 9 years of working in customer service and I was shopping for clothes to wear to work. I was so excited that head to toe black clothing and an apron would no longer be a required part of my outfit and was celebrating by picking brightly colored everything.
In a stunning twist of fate, I found this shirt:
I thought to myself, ‘That looks like a Captain Mal shirt” and seized it instantly. I also made sure to get a pair of khaki dress pants to complete the look. Mal Reynolds ended up being my second ever office outfit (Day one was obviously a nice dress and shoes for that good first impression.) and when I walked in that day, I realized I was feeling this weird sort of confidence similar to what I felt at conventions even though no one but me knew who I was channeling. I was wearing this for me and that boost of confidence made me feel incredible.
After Mal Reynolds gave me so much unexpected self-confidence, I started paying more attention to what my favorite characters wore and thought about what I had in my own closet that I could wear to give me that same edge, aesthetic or attitude.
It was like I had unlocked a brand new, magical world. I could subtly transform myself into these strong, confident and brave characters and wear them like armor on days when I knew I would need a little extra courage or determination to get me through the day. “They can’t get me down,” I’d catch myself thinking. “I have on a blue skirt and a red shirt. I’m Wonder Woman and by Hera, I will win this battle”*
It became a fun, creative outlet for me as well, picking the small details to go with the clothes to make the whole ‘lewk‘ come together. I started adding hairstyles, jewlery and makeup to the clothing and going out in public wearing a character head to toe. To everyone else, I just looked like a well put together and fashionable lady (all of my friends should get a laugh out of that) but in my head, I was Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons.
Since doing this made me feel like a more confident person, I started sharing these looks with my friends. When they didn’t immediately tell me that I was nuts or that this was a really dumb idea, I began to entertain the idea of writing about it and sharing what I do with more people.
The goal here is to share the top to bottom character idea and the process of putting them together and maybe inspiring everyone to start becoming the characters that make them feel powerful and confident.
I would love to help as many people as possible become warriors with armor from their own closets.