First and foremost, you’re dressing to create a persona. If you’re playing an elven mage, then you probably don’t want to dress like an orc with a giant club. Ask yourself what your character would wear when going into an adventure. Do they have a signature color? Do they want to blend into the environment or stand out? Are you good or evil? Typical good guys lean toward brown neutrals, and evil gravitates towards black. But have you ever tried playing an evil character in white? It messes with people’s minds.
The Game Environment
Where are you playing? If your LARP is indoors, you’re more likely to be playing with flat floors and controlled temperature. This allows you to wear nicer clothes because they’re less likely to get dirty. Ladies, sometimes we like to wear heels, yes? You can wear them during an indoor LARP, but heels and grass do not mix in an outdoor game. They will sink right into the dirt. Temperature is also something to seriously consider. It’s very easy to overheat in a layered costume. Pleather and polyester won’t breathe as well as real leather and cotton. Always listen to your body. If you feel too hot or ill, remove some pieces, take a break, and rehydrate.
Carrying your personal items
Aside from your weapon, you will likely need to carry a few personal items. You should always keep a timepiece on your somewhere. Maybe this is your cell phone. Or perhaps you need to keep medication, lip balm, or eye drops with you. Unfortunately, costumes tend to not have pockets. You can add some using our handy guide to sewing in hidden pockets. Another option is to find pouches or belt packs that compliment your costume. You can acquire them from places like Army surplus stores or Etsy. Thigh holsters work beautifully under skirts or over slim pants. They key is to keep the weight of your items on your hips or thighs where they will be the most comfortable.
Species, class, and weapon choice will affect how your character moves. Armor looks super cool, but it can restrict your range of motion. So can corsets. If you want to wear restrictive clothing, be prepared to suffer a little. If you’re playing a more acrobatic character, you will want clothes that move with you. If you plan on wearing a long skirt, be careful to avoid stepping on the hem and tripping. Trains will get stepped on and dirty, it’s unavoidable. However, you can remedy this for quick transportation by using skirt hitches, hair bands, or safety pins.
It’s all about Your Feet
Your feet will hurt. Just accept it now. You probably won’t even notice that your feet hurt until you stop moving when the game ends. Most likely, you will choose your shoes for your costume and not for comfort. If you’re willing to accept the pain, so be it, but there are things you can do to minimize your agony. First, invest in quality insoles for your shoes. I highly recommend Dr. Scholl’s P.R.O. Pain Relief Orthotics. You can cut them to fit your shoe, but you may have to adjust the tightness of the shoe to compensate for the additional material. Second, make sure your shoes have thick enough soles to absorb impact and reduce the shock to your feet. Another trick you can use is to make your own spats/boot covers and wear them over good sneakers.
Makeup, Wigs, and Contact Lenses
Makeup, wigs, and contacts can complete a look, but you have to wear them for a long time. Oil-based face paint can smear or sweat off easily. Look for options that will wear for several hours. (Side note: Make sure to give yourself enough time to apply your makeup without rushing yourself). A wig can give your character hair that you can’t achieve realistically, but again. you will have to wear it for several hours. Wigs trap heat and put pressure on your scalp which can lead to headaches if you’re not careful. Some LARPers like to wear special contact lenses with costumes. If you’re a novice lens wearer, practice wearing them a few hours each day for a few weeks before your LARP to allow your eyes to adjust. The last thing you need is for your eyes to bother you while you’re trying to enjoy yourself.
Make a packing list
There is nothing worse than arriving at your LARP to realize that you forgot an element of your costume. Several days before your event, make a list of the parts for each costume you plan to wear. You may not remember all the pieces at once, which is why you should start ahead of time. You can always add to the list later. Try on your costume and add items if you think it needs something more. When you pack your costume, check off each piece as you put it in your travel bag.
These are just a few tips about getting ready for a LARP. Let us know what else newcomers should keep in mind when building a costume in the comments!
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