Vibrant colors, extravagant costumes, and characters who look like they belong on the pages of a comic book. These are the sights that greet you if you ever get the opportunity to visit a Comic-Con. Hordes of prop-wielding cosplayers invade the convention center and the blocks that surround it.

Where Fashion Meets Costuming

The hobby of cosplaying emerged from Japan and enveloped the world like wildfire. Who would’ve thought that an activity initially associated with nerdy teenagers would become not just a hobby or a profession but a lifestyle for many? While gaining popularity, cosplay has also evolved over the years.
It started off as comic-book fans dressing up like their favorite characters. Soon it encompassed other pop-cultural mediums such as film, television and even videogames. Recent years have seen another evolution in cosplaying trends.
As pop culture has grown in importance, so has its impact. Fans have turned into devotees, taking inspiration from the stories and strengths of their favorite characters. This has given rise to a new breed of cosplayers whom we refer to as casual cosplayers. Casual cosplaying is a less stringent interpretation of the hobby that has become the bread and butter of thousands. So what is casual cosplaying and how is it changing modern fashion?

What Is Cosplay?What Is Cosplay?

The term cosplay is a combination of two words, costume and play, and is a direct translation of a Japanese term. Cosplay is a form of art and a hobby. The activity entails individuals putting together and wearing costumes to represent iconic characters from books, films, and other pop-culture mediums. Sometimes these costumes are direct replicas of the characters outfit while other times they are an interpretation of the character’s appearance.
The activity of cosplaying gained popularity in the US in the 1990s with the introduction of Japanese manga and anime in the country. The popularity of anime led to conventions that attracted fans from all over the country. As a means to show appreciation and dedication to the characters that mesmerized and inspired so many, costuming became a central element of such conventions.

However, cosplay should not be confused with costuming as the two are distinctly different. Where costuming is a one-off activity, reserved for special occasions such as Halloween, Cosplayers are dedicated to the art. They spend several months putting together and planning their costumes. When they are done with one, they experiment with something else. They dress up as often as they can and give a lot of attention to how they look. Some even get paid for the activity.

What Is Cosplay
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What Is Casual Cosplay?

Now that we have a better understanding of cosplaying, let’s bring our attention to casual cosplaying. We’ve already discussed that cosplay requires tremendous dedication.

Casual Cosplay
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People that take up the hobby plan everything down to the last detail, continuously refining aspects of their costume that need work. It is an extensive and time-consuming process.
Does this mean that casual cosplayers are not as dedicated as cosplayers? Not necessarily. Casual cosplaying entails incorporating stylistic elements of a character’s costume into everyday clothing. Casual cosplay is subtle, yet it is prominent to the recognizing eye. It could be something as small as an earring or something as central to the appearance as the dress itself.
Casual cosplay doesn’t involve costumes. The beauty of a casual cosplay is that you could wear it anywhere and just fit in. People who are aware of the character you are casual cosplaying as will get the reference, while others will probably just write it off as unique dressing sense.

Why Do People Casual Cosplay?

The community of casual cosplayers is a growing one. Since casual cosplayers opt for a more subtle approach to costuming, they don’t have to limit their hobby to conventions and special events. They can casual cosplay every day and everywhere. In the morning they could be casual cosplaying to work and in the evening, they could be enjoying coffee with a friend doing a different cosplay.

This choice of fashion allows fans to showcase their appreciation of the characters they love. It also allows them the opportunity to represent these characters in a more acceptable fashion. For instance, a traditional anime cosplay would involve over-the-top and often skimpy clothing. This would turn heads and garner some frowns if you wore it to a coffee shop. However, if you casual cosplayed the same character, it would be hardly noticeable to the untrained eye. Not to mention, casual cosplay costs much less, but you do get the thrill of being in character.

People Casual Cosplay
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Is Fashion Cosplay
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Is Fashion Cosplay?

Let’s answer this question right off the bat and then we’ll go into the details. Cosplay is certainly a form of fashion, but not all fashion is cosplay. Fashion is the expression of an individual’s identity. It represents their nature, their character and even their feelings. You don’t dress the same on days you are feeling down as you do on days when you are ecstatic.
That being said, we can see the lines blurring between fashion and cosplay in recent years. With the idea of casual cosplay gaining popularity, cosplay is fast diffusing into everyday fashion. This phenomenon has been accelerated by several prominent figures embracing this new fashion sense. From the eccentric fashion choices of Kanye West to the often-bold costumes First Lady Melania Trump sometimes adorns, cosplay as a form of fashion is taking root in American society.

Conclusion

If modern fashion has taught us anything, it is that anything is acceptable as long as you can manage to pull it off. The marriage of fashion and cosplay may be the next step in cosplay’s evolution, but it is also much more than that. This brand of fashion is the newest expression of individuality.
That isn’t to say that this is the primary motivation of all casual cosplayers. Many see it as a way to stay close to the characters that inspire them. Others cherish the intricacy of their portrayals. Regardless of why anyone casual cosplays, the phenomenon has become a prominent element of not only modern fashion, but also of people’s lifestyles.