(Reposted from what I had saved. I'm sure there are some things missing, but they can be added as we go.)
This FAQ is by no means exhaustive, but simply seeks to answer some of the questions that have been frequently asked on the boards. More questions and answers may be added as seen fit.
Q: What is cosplay?
A: "Cosplay" is short for "costume play." The broadest definition of cosplay can refer to anyone wearing a costume, but most commonly cosplay is used when referring to people dressing as characters from manga, anime, or video games and sometimes movies, live-action shows, or musical entertainers. Cosplay is different from the dressing up people typically do during Halloween in that cosplay tends to be much more detail oriented, with accuracy being a critical aspect to many.
Q: Who/What should I cosplay?
A: The general answer for this is to cosplay whoever you want to cosplay as. A lot of time and/or money often goes into a costume, so you want to make sure that it was worth if for you in the end. Good places to start looking for inspiration are your favorite anime or games. Some people like to cosplay more obscure characters so they will have a more unique costume while others like to cosplay from a more popular series so that they will be recognized more. If you're going to sew the costume yourself, it's good to keep your skill level in mind. If you're a beginner, you probably don't want to attempt something too elaborate. If you're going to commission a costume, your budget may be a deciding factor in what costume you decide on, as more elaborate or detailed costumes will cost more for another person to make.
People often ask what character they look like. While many people like to share at least a passing physical resemblance with the character they are cosplaying, for others part of the fun is the challenge of being able to pull off cosplaying a character with which they may not really have that much physical resemblance. When it comes down to it, it all depends on what you, the cosplayer, will find the most enjoyable.
Q: Where can I buy a wig?
A: There are a variety of places online that you can buy wigs suitable for cosplay. Amphigory and Cosworx are two sites that are geared towards cosplayers. There are options on Ebay, however, as always when dealing with Ebay sellers, do your research first. Make sure that the wig is made from high quality fibers (such as toyokalon or kanekalon). If you need a skin top, make sure it has a skin top. Often wigs on Ebay will be thinner than wigs you might buy from another site, so if you are planning on pulling the wig into any sort of up do, it might be better to go with wig you know will be thicker.
If you want to buy a wig in person, locally there are a few venders that carry high quality wigs. Some of the known ones are Hino Hairstyles in the Century Center and Ala Moana, Hair One Beauty Salon on Pensacola, and Codi Club on Makaloa.
Q: How do I color/style a wig?
A: Unless your wig is made of human hair, wigs are made of synthetic material that does not behave quite the same way as human hair does. You cannot use hair color or bleach on a synthetic wig, and while you can color a wig, you can only go from a lighter color to a darker color. You cannot go from darker to lighter. Cosplayers often use sharpies to dye their wigs, either coloring directly onto the wig or creating a dye at home. Keep in mind that certain wig fibers will be more difficult to color than others.
Styling a wig can be similar to styling your own hair, however often times you will need heat and product to help keep the wig in the shape you want (especially for some of the crazier styles out there). Be careful not to melt your wig when using heat on it!! This is very important! There are a number of wig styling tutorials out on the internet (including youtube, where you can see the process better); just google.
Q: How do I make ____ costume?
A: A good place to start when trying to figure out how to make a costume, especially if you're a beginner, is checking to see if there are any existing clothing patterns that match or are similar to pieces of your costume. If you know how, you can also use pieces of your own clothing to draft a pattern for a costume. If you are stuck on very character specific details, it can be good to browse around and see how other cosplayers have tackled the problem you're having. Cosplay communities are great places to ask advice from other cosplayers.
Q: How do I make ____ prop?
A: Again, there are a number of prop making tutorials on the internet that you can use to figure out how to piece together a prop. Some materials that cosplayers will often use to make props include (but are by no means limited to): wood, Sculpey, Crayola model magic, foam, wonderflex, resin, cardboard, or fiberglass. Look around and see what materials might best give you the look you want (within your budget and skill). It's good to keep in mind that if you are bringing the prop to a con, you'll want to make sure that it passes that convention's weapons policy. It would be a shame to spend so much time on a prop only to not be able to bring it with you.
Q: What's the difference between a cosplay group and cosplay gathering?
A: While the two are similar, there are some key differences. Both involve a number of people wearing costumes from the same series, but while cosplay groups tend to plan and make their costumes together, sometimes ensuring that they have only one cosplayer for a character in their group, cosplay gatherings are simply that: a planned gathering of people who are cosplaying from the same series. Gatherings may and probably will have more than one person cosplaying the same character, and they are much more temporary in nature. After a planned gathering, individual cosplayers and groups tend to go their separate ways to enjoy the rest of the con.
Cosplay gatherings are a good way for people to meet others with similar interests with whom they can share their love of a particular series. Cosplay groups tend to be a much tighter-knit group, involving a lot more planning and cooperation. So while you can think of a gathering as an event, a group can be better thought of as an organization or entity.
Q: What's the difference between the Hallway Contest and the Cosplay Showcase?
A: A major difference is that the Cosplay Showcase involves getting up on stage and presenting your costume. Winners are chosen by a panel of judges. In the Hallway Contest, pictures of you in your costume are taken by event staff and people can vote for their favorite. Winners receiving the most votes will be called up during the Cosplay Showcase to accept their award.
The rules for entering the Hallway Contest and the Cosplay Showcase differ. Historically at Kawaii Kon, there has been more leniency towards the costumes allowed in the Hallway Contest. Contest rules will be posted on the Kawaii Kon website, so double check the rules if you are planning on entering any contest!