Because of the release of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie and the release of the final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, for many people July 2007 will mean a first, or even last, time dressing up as a Harry Potter character for things like midnight movie openings and book release and reading parties. Whether you are trying to entertain your Harry Potter obsessed children or yourself, you won’t be alone. Harry Potter costuming and cosplaying are vastly popular, but you may be asking yourself how to achieve that perfect Hogwarts look.
Luckily, there are many resources and stores online to help you do just that. One fantastic resource is the HP_costuming community on LiveJournal, which features everything from the answers to where to buy questions to suggestions for sewing patterns and photographs of various completed and in progress Harry Potter costuming projects. Before you ask a where to buy question, be sure to read the FAQ as chances are you are not the first person to ask your particular Harry Potter costuming question.
Need to buy stuff for your Harry Potter costume? You have lots of options. For replicas of specific film props such as Hermione Grangers’s time turner, Lucius Malfoy’s walking stick (known affectionately in Harry Potter fandom as “the pimp cane”), and the wands of several major Harry Potter characters including the trio, Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape and Lord Voldemort, visit The Noble Collection. Some items are quite pricey, but the replica wands are only $30.
If you’re working on creating a Harry Potter ensemble to turn yourself into a Hogwarts student, visit Alivan’s or WhimsicAlley for robes, uniform elements and wands. For truly basic uniform pieces though, try an actual school uniform purveyor. I created my teen Severus Snape costume with extra-large boys sizes of school uniform gear from French Toast (I’m a slim woman, about 5’6½), and several people I know swear by their pleated skirts for their Hermione Granger costumes.
Some character recreations demand more custom work than others, Severus Snape being probably the most popular character on that list (although various members of the Malfoy and Black families also rank high in this regard). For my own Professor Snape costume, I went with the custom Potion Master’s Jacket from Kambriel. It’s a beautiful piece of clothing, and was, an admittedly pricey investment, one I was only able to the justify by the fact that All Harry Potter geekery aside, it does, in fact, fit in very well with my more generalized aesthetic.
When going to an event in Harry Potter costume there are a few things you want to keep in mind. If you’re wearing a hat, remember that you’re going to have to spend the movie with it on your lap. Similarly, remember that movies are full of things like oily, buttery popcorn, so you should consider how elaborate and expensive a Harry Potter costume you want to assemble for such a hazardous environment.
If your Harry Potter costume includes a wand, try to design a wand pocket or holster into your costume, because it can become very annoying, very quickly, to never have one hand free. Trust me. And your Harry Potter illusion will be quickly ruined if you keep shoving it at someone else to hold. A pocket along the arm or leg of your wizarding robes is generally an easy and elegant solution to this particular Harry Potter costuming annoyance. Similarly, be careful when gesticulating with your wand — unlike the actual wizards of the world of Harry Potter, we’re less used to these things, and having to duck them all night in a crowded bookstore? Completely annoying.
Finally, be willing to improvise with your Harry Potter costume. It’s summer in North America and Europe and wool Weasley sweaters are not necessarily the most comfortable Harry Potter costume option. Similarly, hats are warming, as are wigs which are popular to complete many Harry Potter character looks, especially the increasingly popular Tonks. For my teen Severus Snape outfit I personally went with grey Bermuda shorts precisely to have a summer option for Harry Potter events. It’s not canon, but yet people always figure it out instantly and praise my ingenuity. At the very least, dress in layers — there’s nothing less magical than going into a heat-related swoon while at a Harry Potter related event.