Cosplayers and Halloween: A Love/Hate Relationship

I have to admit: I really do love Halloween. It’s my favourite holiday throughout the year, mostly because it’s the one time of year that everyone cosplays (and it’s ok!) and as adults instead of rotting our teeth with candy we destroy our livers with alcohol.  And as most people my age are, I do really like my liquor.

However, there is a cringe worthy factor of Halloween to me as well. It was brought into light earlier today when I was roving the Halloween section of a popular convenience store with my roommate, who is a fellow neurotic cosplayer. The two of use were staring with distrust and disgust at the rows of wigs and costumes, turning up our nose and ‘poo poo’ing everything we encountered.

What caused this distaste in the two of us on this usually celebrated holiday?

Well, we’re cosplayers. And every serious cosplayer I have ever talked to cannot walk into a Halloween store without getting hives. In fact, you don’t even necessarily have to be a cosplayer to notice the shudder worthy costumes that are mass produced for Halloween – all you have to do is be a geek with some semblance of what characters SHOULD look like.

Below are my top reasons why Halloween is truly a conflicted thing for cosplayers.

The Wigs

One of the most important parts of a good cosplay or a costume is the wig. Usually, real hair cannot achieve the colours/volume/whacky styles that most fictional characters have, so a wig is generally necessary. I’m neurotic to the point that even if a character has the same colour hair as me, I’ll wear a wig anyway – this saves me styling time and I don’t have to worry about fixing my hair every half hour in a mirror to make sure it hasn’t gone flat.

Now, the really good yet affordable wigs are made with a synthetic blend called Kanekelon, and although SOMETIMES it is obvious that it’s a wig, these wigs can be very nice quality and give the impression of real hair.

Most wigs sold in Halloween shops are made from Synethic fibers instead of Kanekelon, which gives them a strange shine. One can also generally see the weave (the cap that the hair is sewn in to) of the wig on these cheap wigs, as they are made with as little hair strands as possible.

In my opinion, very few things can ruin a costume (even if it’s good!) more than a bad wig.

The Character Inaccuracies

Ugh. I cannot even begin to describe how irritating it is to me to see off brand knockoffs of characters I love, under a different name, with a different colour top or a slightly altered logo. If you’re going to be a character, BE THAT CHARACTER, don’t be its knockoff cousin.

The part that really gets me, however, is that some of the officially licensed merchandise is just as bad! I see costumes from DC and Marvel that I’ve never seen on the pages of a comic book. It makes me grit my teeth.



The People Who Wear The Costumes

Okay, this may just be me getting a little bit snobby, but on Halloween I’m going to see a million girls running around in a Batgirl costume calling themselves Batwoman, and I am going to silently snarl to myself, digging my nails into my palm as my nerdrage slowly rises. People who don’t know anything about comic books, who make fun of us “geeks”, can for one night don the garb of a vigilante and be okay with it – they’re just being “edgy” and “pop culture oriented”, whereas we dress up like these characters because we love them, and we don’t NEED an excuse once a year.


Despite my complaints, I still really love Halloween. It is definitely an exciting holiday to me because I get yet ANOTHER excuse to dress up in one of my various costumes, except this time it’s ok to go to a bar dressed like Black Widow.

I hope you all have a good Halloween, go into a sugar and or alcohol coma, and remember – GET A NICE WIG.


This has been a rant brought to you by Molly McIsaac. For more ramblings check out her twitter.


  1. Nothing grates me more than poor costumes. Maybe we are sad and need more lives. I turned up to a party recently as the Riddler. It wasn’t an official costume by any means but it was chosen from various incarnations I like and it was clearly something Nygma would wear (white shirt, green waistcoat, green bowler, dark suit, purple tie and gloves a cane and green ‘John Lennon’ glasses). A character who wears regular clothing I think can be toyed with more than one who always wears a costume and I thought this was a good move and I could actually look cool as well as semi-accurate. In recent years I’ve gone as DK Joker (and I hated the look that the hours of frustration resulted in). What got me most though was that both time people seemed to be amazed at ‘how good it looked’. I should have taken it as a compliment and left it at that I know but I couldn’t help but think ‘thats only cos you didn’t put the effort it’. Hi, I’m Rob and I’m a fancy-dress snob.

  2. Your Batgirl complaint, which I completely understand, reminds me of a funny story.

    A friend of mine was at a convention dressed as Princess Leia and a guy in a Storm Trooper costume walked past. She said to him, “Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?”, a quote which she assumed someone who had gone to the trouble of wearing a Trooper costume would know very well. The guy in the Storm Trooper costume gets annoyed and huffs, “I’m 6 foot 4!”.

  3. “Okay, this may just be me getting a little bit snobby, but on Halloween I’m going to see a million girls running around in a Batgirl costume calling themselves Batwoman, ”

    I don’t care what they call themselves, just as long as they show off as much skin as possible. 😛

  4. Also on that note by simply wearing black, buying a headband with furry ears on it and then drawing whiskers on your face and colouring your nose black you are not, I repeat NOT, in anyway Catwoman!

  5. Really, is it our place to judge others on what they wear on Halloween? Don’t we get upset when people do that to us at conventions.

    But I do agree with you about wigs Molly. Most uncomfortable things ever, and no one as yet perfected the fake mustache. Can’t ever keep those things on my face.

  6. Agreed with the last section nothing gets my goat more than people who dress up as comic book characters knowing nothing about who they are.
    Way back when I started college there was a girl wearing a very obvious Captain America T-shirt, I thought “great another geek like me” and finally plucked up the courage to talk to her, turns out she didn’t even know the character’s name just thought “it’s ironic, you know, some nerdy comic character from like the 50’s or something” then she mocked me for knowing who it was – FALSE ADVERTISING!
    At Halloween everyone is like that, you can’t tell who’s a nerd and who’s not, I just give up and assume people are just wearing a costume because it looks ‘cool’.

  7. Unless you’re going to have some radical cosmetic surgery, you are never going to be an accurate representation of your comic hero. Halloween is a celebration of the imagination, dark or otherwise. For one day a year, I say we let everyone into the club.

  8. I for one fully endorse sexy Halloween costumes, despite any inaccuracies.

  9. Not everybody is as gifted at the art of costume as cosplayers. If we want to sneak a taste of that intoxicating flavor one night a year, you must excuse our shortcomings.

    Like Ariel, we just want to be part of your world.

  10. I didn’t expect to see an iFanboy article saying “You’re enjoying it wrong”


  11. You know what really annoys me? Holier-than-thou costumers complaining about how everyone else is doing it wrong. They’re often the same ones who dress up at Con’s looking for attention, then complain about how people keep looking at them. Epic fail iFanboy.

    • Molly McIsaac should get together with Jordan Burchette this Halloween. They can have a blast mocking everyone who doesn’t live up to her costuming and his physical standards.

    • Okay. I apologize for the Jordan Burchette comparison. That was unfair and over the top. While the intent is clearly different, the tone still came off as superior and judgmental. Just let people have fun and participate in ‘your’ hobby at the level they feel comfortable. What’s so wrong with that?

  12. Everyone knows that Halloween is just an excuse for adults to get drunk and for women to be able to dress like sluts in public. Not everyone takes costume super serious, most people who dress up for Halloween do it just to have fun. This article simply makes you sound like a snob who needs to get off her high horse.

  13. I’m with stubble and nerd…seriously, you have to be a Captain America fan to be Cap on halloween? Or have an accurate catwoman costume? What happened to the judgment-free bit about fat cosplayers a week ago? Josh? Why do people always have to ruin fun (well, in Josh’s case, he hates fun, but that’s a different story…:)

  14. Eek! Well, I’m not going to be as…filterless…as some of the other commenting users….but I have to say, we don’t all have the money to support getting extremely accurate costumes for Halloween or for cosplaying in general. I submit my photo for the iFanbase halloween page every year, and every year it’s a costume compiled of mostly stuff I already own but hope conveys what I’m going for. I’m going as Batgirl this year. Not quite Babs, not quite Cassie (I wish!) but some hybrid of the character’s different incarnations over the years because I can’t afford a bodysuit and zentai mask and gloves with spikes and stuff. I can’t even afford Steph’s cowl. So I’m wearing my PVC leggings and shrug, a swimsuit with a logo sewn on, a metal wrist cuff that really has nothing to do with Batgirl but looks pretty superhero-y, shorts, and the two things I actually bought this year for the costume – the black domino mask and the yellow utility belt. That’s it. That’s all I could really afford. Last year, I bought a men’s t shirt and took it in for my Wolverine costume. Talk about character inaccuracies!

    Halloween is my favorite holiday, hands down. If it causes someone to have a love-hate relationship with the holiday when I wear basically my clothes assembled differently, well, I hope that someone can get over it and enjoy themselves. I can enjoy it enough for both of us!

  15. btw, i haven’t been made fun of/called a “geek” over comic books in years. seriously. maybe a decade.

  16. Wow people feel free to bash her to your hearts content! Every cosplayer eventually wants there costume to be exact and the one everyone takes pictures of so that will never change, its pretty much a cosplayers transition no matter what. If your into it you get serious. She has her opinion of halloween costumes which we all know are all cheap quality but we buy for fun and a fast way to get the costume done and over with instead of taking months to put together like for cons. She never said she hatted Halloween or that she goes out of her way to tell those people “your costume not accurate idiot” or “wtf your not a geek you can’t wear that!”. We all have that little voice that critiques other people and the way they dress, so don’t tell me you don’t do it either. Please continue thinking your better then everyone else because you obviously never think things like that. Just chill out, seriously.

    • The problem is, the people that she’s talking about aren’t cosplayers. They’re just “normal” people who want to indulge in dressing up and having a bit of fun once a year.

      No, she may not be telling those people “your costume’s not accurate idiot” or “wtf your not a geek you can’t wear that!” to their faces. She’s going behind their backs and bashing them to her ‘peers’. She’s acting like a teenage girl making fun of those who are too “uncool” to be in-the-know.

    • There’s a difference between hearing “that little voice” critique other people and writing an article about it for those people who are potentially being critiqued to read.

      For the record, I don’t critique the way anyone dresses. Ever. I think it’s childish. I think it takes balls to get up, put on clothing and leave the house knowing that someone, somewhere at some point will be judging you, but we all do it anyway and some of us do it with less reservation than others. I don’t care if you look like you stepped out of a J Crew catalog or a scene from the film Pretty in Pink; if you own it, you own it and I respect that.

    • Cosplayers are “normal” people no matter what people tell themselves. The only difference is that Cosplayers go out of their way to do it more often instead of just Halloween. Also everyone has a group of friends where they chit chat about everyone, even amongst themselves.

      Teenage girls are really harsh and we all know it but come one we are not in high school, most of us are graduated or already have a career. We got over those petty remarks and slanders, or at least should have by now.

  17. I’m pretty sure the article was tounge-n-cheek guys…. you can enjoy Halloween in your crappy loki costumes. I know I will.

  18. I don’t think Molly was as critical or harsh as some of you took it. It’s pretty common for an “expert” to get irked when some “layman” says something inaccurate or rambles on about something they know nothing about. Sometimes, as Molly pointed out, you just gotta let it slide, even though you know better. It’s the mature, tactful thing to do.

    On Halloween, cut people some slack. It’s not a competition. Sure, some commercial costumes are really crappy, but it’s often faster and more convenient to just buy one and be done with it. And some people don’t have a ton of money to throw at it. I would say that whatever you wear, OWN IT – whether it’s expensive and accurate to a fault or simple and home-made. Attitude goes a long way.

    Leave your nerd/OCD perfectionism at home for a night – you might even get laid instead of insulting someone.

  19. I might go as an Amalgam character now… if they wore sweat pants… and watched Jurassic Park on Blu Ray… and ate candy that they never intended to hand out. That’s my day and it will be amazing.

  20. There are some of us girls dressing up like Batgirl who love the character, but don’t cosplay the rest of the year…
    Just saying… 🙂

  21. I’ve never cosplayed at a convention. I’m not a ‘cosplayer’ but I do like fancy dress. Cosplaying isnt really a thing as much this side of the pond. If I don’t have cash I chuck on my blue jeans and Superboy T-shirt and its legit. I know not everyone knows the widest array of characters or care as much. however they do not need to. People are allowed to be different and that’s fine. Still it irks me which I know is irrational and I’m not saying I’m right I was just trying to express my opinion which is what Molly is doing. Plus her opinion may not be the same as everyone’s on the website so to address it as being written by ‘iFanboy’ seems a little odd. Its a genuine person’s thoughts about Halloween and I thought it was interesting to hear and connect with those feelings, as slightly unbalanced as they may be.

  22. Lately on this site there has been a lot of people leaping to the defense of Cosplayers, yet it is a Cosplayer here who is quick to rip other costumes she doesn’t care for. That is a bit of a double-standard isn’t it? While quick to point out her “favourite” (that spelling alone could be seen as condescending) outfits, the author is also equally quick to criticize things she doesn’t like in costumes. So she is more than willing to dish out but not prepared to take it? A LOT of people don’t care for Cosplay or the costumes, but the majority of them keep it quiet and to themselves, the author can treat those that she feels are lacking in “geekiness” or lack costumes that are to her lofty standards to the same ridicule that is frowned on if any poster makes a similar comment? Not cool.