Unwritten rules for cosplay at cons?


New Member
There's a smaller comic con in the northeast that I like going to since it's close by, but I've never attended in costume before. I finally put something together that I think I look good in, so I thought I might try going in costume this year.

The con's website doesn't elaborate much on the cosplay guidelines and basically says no real/sharp weapons and to just adhere to "the basic rules".

Other than just basic common courtesy for attending events, what are some of the unwritten rules I should know about that might be cosplay-specific as a cosplayer?

I also thought I might try entering the cosplay contest for fun. However, I've been under the impression only scratch-built costumes can enter, and that costumes that were essentially bought might be frowned upon--is that the case, or just an assumption on my part? Most of the pieces of my costume are pieces I've bought individually and arranged together--some screen used pieces, some retail pieces, some of my own minor additions. Would it be a faux pas to enter the contest and/or unfair to others, especially who may have scratch built everything? Should I skip the contest and just stick to enjoying the show floor?

Thanks :)


Sr Member
So long as you are open and honest about how your costume was made, you're pretty much good.
It all depends on what the contest is about, and what they're looking for for winners.

As for general rules/guidelines, off the top of my head:

If you're in a Morphsuit, wear a dance belt!
Always shower and wear deodorant.
Don't point weapon props at anyone without being specifically asked to do so.
Even if your character is known for being loud / obnoxious - Just don't.


Sr Member
The fact that you asked this question is enough to convince me that you'll be 100% fine. All con rules can be summed up with "Try not to be a super annoying ass"

If you're not stinky, endangering people, showing actual genitalia, or going out of your way to offend people or ruin their good time, absolutely no one has a problem. All the cons I've been to have been filled with nothing but people who dig sci fi/fantasy enjoying themselves and being happy that the world has so many people who like the same things they do.


Active Member
I also thought I might try entering the cosplay contest for fun. However, I've been under the impression only scratch-built costumes can enter, and that costumes that were essentially bought might be frowned upon-

Check the con rules, but I can't imagine that store bought costumes would be allowed in the actual contest
No idea of your costume, but have you considered toilet breaks? Going as a Transformer may be great, but less so when you have to <ahem> drain the oil tank

If you really get into it, try to think of an "in character" pose to pull if someone asks to take a photo

Have fun


Master Member
+1^ regarding the morphsuit; this is already something to keep in mind before you order it: custom fit it with one or multiple (hidden) zippers, separate gloves for hygienic toilet breaks, small waist bag for wallet & essentials instead of backpack, velcro for easy removal of foam costume parts, etc. That and respectful behaviour is pretty much it.
Sidenote: keel in mind that puff painting your suit will make it tighter or perhaps afterwards not fitting at all

James Kenobi 1138

Master Member
Not relevant specifically to your question about Con rules but about wearing a costume for the first time at a Con.

Definitely dress up at home and have someone take pics of you from 6-8 feet away and practice several different poses.

Seeing yourself photographed in costume will allow you to see if you need to make any adjustments to the fit or position of any parts and gives you a sense of how you will look when others take your picture.

Dr Jones Sr

Sr Member
About weapons/prop policies they vary widely from Con to Con, so as people said you'll need to carefully check the guidelines for each Con you attend. The polices can be oddly specific, for example one Con here allows prop guns but they can't have a moveable trigger. Another Con allows prop weapons as long as they don't fire or launch projectiles.

For my first few years of Cosplaying I only did Dr Jones Senior, who carries no weapons. Then during the Lockdown when I made my first costume that included a dagger and a sword I was VERY careful to make both in such a way that they would be allowed in Cons, and they have been.
The sword (foam) and the dagger (Sculpy) are one-piece props, the handles and scabbards in one piece, with no blades at all.

About costume contests I think all the ones around here require scratch-built costumes. Some have percentages like 80% scratch-built/ 20% bought allowed for example.

About unwritten rules, as an older man I work hard to not be perceived as a creepy old guy! The fact that women are often in revealing outfits is NOT an invitation to creep people out. They're the same age as my daughter (who also cosplays) and I treat all women as people, not as objects.

I take plenty of pics of the great cosplays I see but I don't take pics of women who are in revealing costumes. (Seems at every Con there's at least one creepy guy who ONLY takes pics of women in revealing costumes.)

One thing I didn't see mentioned above is costume durability. It happens at every Con: somebody shows up in a really cool costume, but as they walk around and the costume gets bent and stretched and struck and pulled while going through the crowds the costume starts falling apart.

I've seen beautiful elaborate costumes not last an hour.

Over-build everything! Twist and whack and pull your costume before the Con to make sure it will last.
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Master Member
Always shower and wear deodorant.

The fact that this even has to be given as a part of the “unwritten rules” makes me wonder where we are headed.

gross dumb and dumber GIF

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