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September 7, 2011

Bento Bako Lite: My First Cosplay

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Written by: Kristin
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I’ve been wanting to try cosplaying for quite some time. But aside from not really having the guts, the skills, or the materials, I don’t attend a lot of conventions. I don’t do well in compressed crowds. However, this year I decided to attend Anime Fest again (having last gone several years ago, in 2004, as my first convention). Anime Fest is one of the oldest running conventions in the country (it began in 1992), and also one of the longest cons in terms of days held. Held each year over Labor Day weekend, this anime convention makes use of the holiday to stretch itself out for four days instead of the typical three. Although it’s located in a large metroplex area like Dallas, Texas, it’s a rather small convention, presently averaging around 5-6,000 attendees (in comparison, Dallas’s other major anime convention, Project A-Kon, averages around 15-20,000). However, because it’s smaller, it’s a well organized and pleasant affair. This time I even decided to stay at the hotel for part of the con to make things easier. It would also make it easier to cosplay. I did, however, attend as press, so I didn’t want to do something outrageous; I wanted to look at least slightly professional if I was going to dress up. So I racked my brain for characters with a similar appearance to mine (glasses and long blond hair are really my only criteria), and came up with a character from one of my favorite video games. The cold and calculating Mitsuki Konishi from Square Enix’s Nintendo DS RPG The World Ends With You.

Take a breather with me and follow my process from conception, through construction, to execution.

When I started out, I had to evaluate my crafting skills. They’re not much to speak of. I took a costume class in college, where I learned how to use a sewing machine, and even managed to crank out a couple of skirts and a pillow. That was several years ago, however. These days I can manage some simple patchwork and sewing buttons back onto shirts and pants. So obviously, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible. I began to scour the Internet for pieces I could use that would only require some minor modifications. It’s remarkably hard to find a bib or overall dress. I searched and searched for one. Finally something popped up in a search that directed me to a dress on Amazon.com. From Hot From Hollywood I found something called “Career Woman High Waist Sexy Suspenders Pencil Skirt.” Lo and behold. It was perfect. It was cut the way I wanted, and it draped and fit the way I wanted. It just had those annoying buttons, but they weren’t a deal breaker, especially since it was perfect otherwise. I just had to sew some ruffle on the bottom, which I had to go a bit out of my way to get, as the nearest store to sell that sort of thing was a Hobby Lobby a few towns over. Fortunately, I found something that would look perfect once attached.

So I got it ready to be sewn on, which I figured would be a pretty simple task.

It ended up not being all that simple. The material of the dress is thick, making it hard on my basic sewing machine, and even giving my mother-in-law’s standard machine a difficult time. But we got it on.

Next was the shirt, another difficult thing to find. I wanted something I’d have to modify as little as possible, so I went looking for collared dress shirts first. Women’s dress shirts tend to open up into a v-neck rather than buttoning up all the way to the top like men’s shirts do. Then I started looking for something with a ruffle down the front, which I figured would be the hardest thing to replicate. Well, there’s stuff like that all over the place, but rarely in white, and almost never in anything that buttoned up. Then I started looking for something with ruffled sleeves, and had little luck there, as well. Finally I stumbled upon a shirt from Esprit that buttoned all the way up, had the tuxedo-like ruffle on the front, AND had ruffled sleeves! The only thing missing was a collar, which I figured I could attach myself. So I went out on the hunt for a men’s white button up dress shirt, and with a little help from a friend, found one that fit my neck, and remarkably ended up being a perfect fit for the Esprit shirt once it was cut off and pinned together.

With the main part of the costume figured out, I went hunting for the accessories. Bangles are a surprising pain to shop for, as they come in lots of colors and huge bundles, but finding a bundle with similar shaped bangles in the right color balance was difficult. I didn’t want to have to buy two or three separate sets to get the couple of bracelets that I needed. Fortunately I found one that included enough of them together to provide what I needed. I also had to decide what sort of socks/hose/tights to wear. My mainstay are Hanes silky sheer black thigh high hose, that have a silicone lining on top to keep them from sliding down the leg. However, it’s clear Konishi is wearing some sort of non-sheer sock, so I also pulled out some thigh high tights I own. These won’t stay up on me for anything though, so I found some sock glue to order, which works amazingly well. The shoes were a bit hard to find, given that I had waited so long to hunt down white shoes. Wedding season was over, and Labor Day was around the corner, so I was lucky to find any at all, really. But I found some with a perfect look, that weren’t too high, but did have to be stuffed with various insoles to keep my feet from sliding around. The barrette shown below I ended up not using, as I found something far better that gave me a better look and actually held all of my hair (for the barrette I would have had to make a pony tail with a rubber band and bobby pin in the barrette over it).

After a lot of help from my mother-in-law, I ended up with this as the base for the costume:

Just about perfect! And just about ready to go. I ordered a western neck tie off Amazon, which unfortunately was pretty cheaply made. One of the bows tore immediately, and I had to sew it back on. I also couldn’t get the hook on it to, well, hook. So I ended up using a safety pin to attach it around my neck under the collar of the shirt.

Then there was my hair. My hair was nearly long enough to sit on, so the first thing I did was chop off about five inches. It hadn’t had a good cut in a while, so the ends were a dry, split, ugly looking mess. The trim did wonders, making my hair look a lot more healthy, while still leaving it long the way I like it. It was also a more perfect length for the cosplay. Now, Konishi has some soft curls or waves in her hair, and my hair has never taken well to any sort of…well, anything at all. It’s very fine, and its length makes it heavy, so it’s hard to style. I bought a medium curl curling iron, but because I have so much hair, I was having a really hard time getting it to hold a curl. So I decided to go with an old trick – braid it, sleep in it overnight, undo it in the morning, and hairspray the heck out of it. Which…ended up not working as well as I had hoped, so I had to take the curling iron to it anyway, and even that only lasted a few hours. After some safety pinning here and there, and liberal use of sock glue, this is the finished product, just before hitting the convention floor on Saturday for the day’s activities:

I ended up being recognized twice (to my face), and one of those times I was nearly glomped by some excited girls who wanted a photo. I did not manage to find the others who were cosplaying from the same game, but I was sequestered away in the press room for a good bit that day. I did see a Neku late Sunday night on my way back to my room, but I was not in costume, and was too exhausted to say hello. It was fun to dress up, though it was not easy to walk in. And taking a bathroom break was a 5-10 minute affair is unpinning, squeezing in and out of things, and repinning. Also, my feet entered the unbearable pain territory sometime in the afternoon, and I had to give up on the heels and wear my sandals instead. I should have given in sooner, because that night (and even now, on Monday) my legs and ankles were quite sore, and my feet hurt. So, lesson learned!

We will get back to our regular schedule here…sometime. I have several voice actor interviews to go through and edit together, and about 100 photographs to organize (and a few to mooch from a friend), so that will be coming up as soon as I’m able to learn how to use the audio editing software I have. Manga reviews will resume soon, and I should have my monthly manga picks from the Previews catalog by Friday. Hope you all enjoyed the long weekend!




  1. Very cool! The final result looks great.

    I was actually in the Dallas area on Labor Day weekend and Anime Fest was in the back of my mind. I’m glad that you had fun!

  2. Kristin

    Thanks! It was a lot of fun. 🙂
    My official con write up will go up on Monday, and my voice actor interviews some time next week. The best part was…everyone was fabulous.
    Too bad I didn’t get to meet you while you were in the area! Let me know next time you’re going to be up here.

  3. […] just a couple of panels, as I was frequently returning to the press room for interviews. I managed a simple cosplay for Saturday, understated so I could wear it to the interviews I was conducting. I even managed to […]

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