Hall Costumes and Fannish Fashion
Hall costumes are costumes some attendees at Worldcons and other conventions wear in the hallways and around the con, rather than only at the formal, judged masquerade. Some conventions even provide judging for hall costuming.
These may be casual or elaborate but they go a little farther than the offbeat attire many fans affect at cons. Often, hall costumes are copies of costumes worn by characters in films or TV shows.
Hall costumes actually predate the concept of a costume party or regular masquerade. The first time sf fans wore them at a convention was in 1939 when Morojo designed and created “futuristicostumes" that she and Forry Ackerman wore to Nycon 1.
Hall costumes may be elaborate or simple, ranging from complete full-body covering and detailed outfits from the wearer's favorite sf or fantasy world to just a few accessories. “They glue a gear on it and call it ‘steampunk,’” Dick Smith has scoffed.
Larry Tucker once described the drobes who spend entire cons remaining in character, dressed in full-body costumes complete with masks as "Very lonely people ... who want to stay very lonely people."
Hall costumes were once fairly rare at general sf cons, but are much more frequently seen today, perhaps because of crossover from anime, comics and steampunk fandoms.
Sometimes it's hard to tell whether some fans’ clothes are meant to be cosplay or merely their idiosyncratic way of dressing. During the 1970s, for example, it became a trend for fans of all genders in the Midwest and mid-South to wear caftans to cons (after a group of browsing fen discovered a big sale on them in the hotel gift shop at Rivercon).
Stfnal t-shirts and shirts denoting cons and clubs are popular. In the 1950s, CFG members sported spiffy club bowling shirts.
NESFAns were so fond of dressing alike that their clubzine Instant Message published “T-Shirt Orders of the Day” before major conventions. For their Boston in '98 Worldcon bid, they went all out with matching, home-sewn vests in a black and gold astronomical pattern. (Australia in 1999, poking gentle fun by making tiny vests for the clip-on toy koalas they were giving pre-supporters, found them to be so popular that Koalawear became an important fundraiser.)
Headgear such as moose antlers and the quintessential propeller beanie have been fashionable. Mike Glicksohn always wore an Australian bush hat, and Lan Laskowski a coonskin cap.
All sorts of slogan-bearing buttons and badges have been popular, not to mention ribbons. Fanartists used to make custom nametags for their friends and for sale.
Sometimes three-dimensional objects become a trend, as in the 1970s, when a lot of fen wore miniature toy dragons on their shoulders, a nod to the fire lizards of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Lynn Parks mocked this fad by acquiring a bunch of hot pink hippopotamus-shaped plush bean bags, dubbed Hippotofurs, that she and her friends wore.
Dave Kyle, in his later years, wore a distinctive bright red jacket emblazoned with a First Fandom patch. Ben Yalow’s black bow-tie has become symbolic of smoffery. You may often see John Hertz clad in a top hat, white tie and tails. And then there’s Orange Mike.
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