I was playing around with my Jedi Consular costume today to see what I could change. I really wanted to try a longer, darker tunic underneath my sleeveless white one to give more layers and add some depth to the look. The original costume is what I think of as my Jedi’s battle outfit. The shorter hem, sleeveless, no hood design allows for good movement and there’s no flowy robes to get in the way of any “aggressive negotiations” I might need to conduct.
I wanted the longer tunic to go underneath my white one so that all the work I did to hand-embroider the symbol of the Old Republic Jedi on the back would still be visible. I had an idea to go with something floor-length with bell-type sleeves. Less practical, but befitting a Consular who spends her time healing and studying artifacts in the Jedi Temple archives. I debated colour, originally thinking to make it out of the same fabric as the white tunic since I still had lots of leftover fabric from it. Then I thought about making it a different colour, perhaps some shade of brown to match the leather belt and bracers and make the white pop out a bit more. With this in mind, I dove into my fabric stash to see what I had. I really didn’t want to go buy more fabric and was determined to use something I already had on hand.
I found nothing that fit the picture in my head. I flopped on the couch in defeat to ponder my predicament. Then I remembered that I had made a robe to wear over top of my Jedi costume when it was cold. I suffer from the tiny-girl ailment of always freezing, so I made the robe to offset my sleeveless battle outfit.
Alas, another tiny-girl problem is that when a pattern says it makes a size small, it is usually still too big on me. This robe drowned me in its folds and also hid my lovely embroidery work. Because of this, I did not wear the cumbersome robe with my costume very often. On top of that, I had made it out of a lovely brown-coloured bed sheet that was exactly the sort of fabric I had searched for to make my other tunic out of. Sigh. Such wasted potential.
Or was it? What if the robe was cinched in with a belt? That would make its over-sized volume more manageable. And what if I wore it under my white tunic so that the embroidery was still visible? It even had large bell sleeves! I pulled out the robe and realized it was just a really large tunic with a hood. Getting excited, I decided to test my theory. I put on the robe, crossed it over in the front to overlap and close it, then put on the white tunic, then the green tabard, then the belt and bracers. The robe certainly added bulk and it was a little challenging to get everything on over it by myself.
Here’s a cosplay secret: Costumes often require another person or even a whole team of people to get into them. Sometimes I feel like putting on a costume takes just as long as it did to make the whole thing. It doesn’t, but it can certainly seem like it sometimes.
Once I had everything layered on, I took a look in the mirror and saw a totally different Jedi. Rather than battle-ready and mobile, this Consular was more regal and patient. I certainly believed that the Jedi in the mirror spent more time inhaling dust than dueling Dark-siders. I was very pleased with the overall effect, and spent some time swooshing around the house in it. For scientific reasons, of course.
This story showcases one of the things I love about creating costumes. There is no such thing as a final product. There is “acceptable to wear in public” and “I probably won’t get arrested for this” and even “I’m kinda proud of this one” but there is always something to fix, improve, or re-design. I find this way of thinking very freeing. I tend toward perfectionism in the things I make and it is very difficult for me to deem something ‘perfect” or “finished”. Instead, I look at each incarnation of my costumes as one form it can take, among many possibilities. Keeping this fluidity in mind is what allows me to proudly wear an outfit to a con or event knowing it may not meet my definition of “Final form”, but it is a form that is worth showing off.