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Your Last-Minute Costuming Guide for Comicpalooza

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Comicpalooza, Houston's biggest comic and pop culture convention, starts at 10 am on Friday. The six-year old convention keeps growing in size and popularity. This year, it spans four days instead of three. (Hopefully, you already have Memorial Day off and don't have to call in "sick.")

So, what if you want to go to Comicpalooza but didn't plan on wearing a costume?

Option 1: Don't Sweat It

First off, it's absolutely fine to not wear a costume or cosplay. Speaking from experience, costumes can be hot, uncomfortable and--if you make your own--require hours, days or even months of work to achieve a high level of quality and authenticity. Based on my own observations at cons, a third or fewer attendees actually cosplay (although it is growing in popularity every year and more and more people are picking it up as a serious hobby). In fact, I strongly recommend to first-time con attendees to NOT cosplay. Just come see what it's all about first and then decide if you want to cosplay for the next one.

Option 2: Nerd Couture

The easiest way to dress in the spirit of the event is to visit your local comic book store and check out the assortment of branded T-shirts. You can probably find one that sports a character that you love. At larger comic book shops, like the Bedrock City Comics on Washington Avenue, there's a lot more than just T-shirts to choose from. These days, the fashionable geek can choose from hoodies, jackets hats and wallets. Gussy up your jeans and jackets with iron-on patches. There are even some extremely cute Doctor Who dresses for the ladies.

If your heart is absolutely set on wearing a costume (or you have a child who is going to be heartbroken to not have one) you still have some options--if you hurry.

Option 3: Amazon Prime

If you order a lot of stuff online, the $99 Amazon Prime membership comes in really handy. It is a lifesaver if you need something in a day or two and have no time to go shopping in person. There are several costumes and accessories available for second-day and (for an additional $3.99 per item) even next day shipping.

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Option 4: Frankel's Costumes 2801 Polk St, Houston, TX 77003 (713) 228-9445

Frankel's is Houston's biggest, year-round costuming store. As far as scifi and superhero genres go, the usual Star Trek/Star Wars garb and well-known superheroes, like Batman and Superman, can be found here. There are more and bigger options though, for those who want to pull together a steampunk or Game of Thrones-esque costume.

There are also several "slutty Disney" options available for the ladies. (Who knew Sleeping Beauty and Tinkerbell could be such hotties?)

Make sure to cruise around the store. Something might catch your eye that stirs up your creative juices and an awesome idea may come to mind.

There are also several costumes available for rental. The store didn't have a catalog of them to look at during our visit yesterday, so you'll have to ask one of the friendly store employees to help you. The same goes if you're looking for something specific but can't find it on your own.

Option 5: Party City

You can visit your local Party City to see what they have in-stock. Better still, you can peruse their web site which has a bigger and easier-to-navigate selection. For $24.95, next day air shipping is available. We think this feminine take on Spiderman is pretty excellent.

(Sorry, no Jessica Drew-style Spiderwoman is available here. You have to make that yourself or order it online elsewhere.)

Option 6: Resale Shops

People tend to only wear costumes once or twice and sometimes those cast-offs end up at the thrift store. It's not surprising to find wigs and the like. With some creativity and flexibility, you may be able to piece together a costume from several different garments.

My "crossplay Malcolm Reynolds" jacket came from the Goodwill store on Washington Avenue. I dyed it by sponging on water-based leather dye purchased from Tandy Leather Factory on FM 1960. It's not an exact replica of the original jacket, but there's never been any confusion on which character I was cosplaying amongst Firefly fans.

A fluffy cloud of a brown wig inspired my friend Sara (who is much more creative than I am) to cosplay Bob Ross. She did a frighteningly good job.

Option 7: Traditional Retail Stores

The growing pop culture fanbase has made it easier than ever to find branded merchandise, even at normal retail stores. Kohl's is another great place to find superhero T-shirts. Take a walk down the toy aisle of Target and you might find a Batman mask or a Captain America shield. Heck, you might even find a Cruella d'Ville-worthy dress at Macy's. You can go subtle, too. A navy pencil skirt, blazer and big rimmed, tortoise shell glasses can turn a lady into a wink-worthy Diana Prince.

No Costume Required

Again, though, the most important thing about Comicpalooza is to just go. A four-day pass is a very reasonable $55. Go walk around the George R. Brown, see the sights and have some fun. There are celebrities that you can meet and get autographs from or photos with (for a fee). There are informative panels to attend (panels are hour-long seminars or discussions on pop culture topics hosted by experts), and lots of merchandise and art to check out. If you've never been to one, you definitely need to at least go see if a comic con is your bag, baby. Have fun this weekend!

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