This page will go from most recent to oldest, not only because my cosplay game has improved over the years, but also because that puts what you most want to see up top! If you want the chronological story, begin at the bottom. If you just want the newest fashions in my history of dorkiness, here’s where you want to be.
(I am currently including links to the individual artists, Etsy or otherwise, from whom I bought some of these pieces over the years in case you want to peruse their offerings and find treasures of your own!)
2023: Queen, Valkyrie, Moon Goddess
2023’s theme at CONvergence was “All Dressed Up.” As you look through my history, you’ll mostly see versions of me as fighters, warriors, adventurers. For this year, I decided I wanted to be a different kind of powerful and strong. No frilly princess, but a queen, empress, goddess. I have a weird relationship with femininity, but not when in the guise of strength and confidence. I found this *amazing* website called Holy Clothing that made these fantastic gowns and I was hooked.
The first one in green is a picture taken right after our return to HarmCon again (which may explain the slightly dazed look on my face). Previously, Sarah had been wearing an incredibly cool gambeson that she could actually fence in if we gave her a sword — but it didn’t work well with the guitar so we dropped it for the set. She still looks fabulous in the shirt and custom-made hat, though. The second dress in blue required several edits to make it fit me properly, being sized for someone rather taller than I am. Those flowing sleeves, though, felt like wings, and adding my winged crown and bracers made me feel like the Valkyrie of my story. The dark red with the return of the moon belt and my tiara was great fun — those sleeves are no joke! The only unfortunate thing was that, by the time of that third dress, my feet were torn up from the first two days and I had to pair it with sneakers. Oh well! At least we brought back my really cool hairstyle from 2022!
Honestly, these gowns were a lot more fun than I thought they’d be. They took some work to get there (hemming, figuring out what to wear under them to keep warm, determining whether or not my radio could live in the pockets because THESE GOWNS HAVE POCKETS, etc.) but the overall effect was really good. And I didn’t get any of them stuck in any escalators which…knowing this hotel, was a real fear!
(On the picture with my hair, no, absolutely we did not take that when I was still in my sleep shirt that morning. Definitely not. Nor can you see my knee peeking out. You’re imagining things.)
2022: Dragonrider, Steampunk, Total Badass
2022 was a fantastic year. Sarah and I went all in on a steampunk thing together, I remade my dragonrider look to include my newer dragon companion Yuuki (it means “courage”) who looks a whole lot like she wandered out of Spirited Away (coincidence? nah), and I finally bought my first piece of real armor. In cosplay, I’d always wanted to portray different parts of myself, different strengths, different spirits. 2022 was the year those things really coalesced nicely. I have Kelly-the-dragonrider, Kelly-the-steampunk-rebel, and Kelly-the-absolute-badass. 2022 was also the year that there was a vendor in the Dealers Room selling tiaras, which I incorporated into my armor on the spot because when you can wear a tiara — YOU WEAR THE TIARA. Honestly, cosplay always made me feel good, but in 2022 it made me feel magnificent.
(The dragonrider outfit picture looks a little strange because, if you can’t tell by my body language, I was trying to rush off to a call on the radio. “But, Kelly! Pictures!” “Fine, but do it fast, please!” Also, you’re not imagining a tiny bandage under my mask in each shot; my immune system appreciates the masks, but my delicate nose skin does not!)
Also, check out the cool thing we did with my hair on steampunk day. Marina braided it in the back and then laced it with a ribbon like a corset. It came out so well!
Honestly? I want my author picture to be some variation (maskless, I assume) on the last one below!
2021: Pirate, Moon Lady, Dragonrider
2020 was the year CONvergence-was-not, so skipping to 2021, now I was truly committed to 3 full days of cosplay. CONvergence was back, but masked. Sarah and I were back to play HarmCon again. And I was feeling bold. So we went for 3 full outfits, though the third picture isn’t great because someone took it as I was running off to Co-Head a situation.
The dramatic pirate one gave me the chance to return to my tri-corn hat which I still love even when it gets hot, so I went for a shirtless corset look which…well, have you seen a lot of skin on me yet? No you haven’t. You never will. But that year I felt okay with it and went for it. The black dress and moon belt I absolutely loved and I paired with a custom Valkyrie crown from Etsy complete with the Candles Enough logo on it. It was the most comfortable I’d been in a cosplay in YEARS. The last was my alternate dragonrider outfit with Defiance back perched on the bandolier where she belongs and a blue-gray tunic that Marina and I made wayyy back in 2018 and which is absolutely falling apart now. Plus my leather tails vest corset thing that I adore.
Of note, this was the first time I’d actually worn my hair down at the convention, and for two whole days! Given that my hair was at the time easily to my middle back and is wild, curly, and huge, this was a change for me. I normally keep it braided, but, once again, I was feeling BOLD!
2019: Steampunk V1
2019 was my year of full steampunk. I built a hat out of cardboard (it is AT LEAST as hard as you think it is), bought goggles and a Victorian-inspired blouse off Etsy, got a leather waistcoat with tails like a dramatic tuxedo, and went full throttle forward. Honestly, it’s one of my best looks and, except for the boots being *frightfully* uncomfortable, I loved every minute of it. Marina also braided rainbow colors into my hair which you could only see when I took the hat off. This also marks the year when I started more actively buying pieces from artists rather than trying to sew them myself. Which is for the best for everybody, really!
(I don’t have a picture of the second look, but I basically paired the same tailed corset with a white peasant shirt and the laced boots of previous years for a simpler outfit on days I would be running around more. By now I knew that being a Co-Head meant a great deal of running around!)
2018: Dragons Again
2018 was the year I started as a Subhead for Operations and was a full Co-Head by the time the convention rolled around. I have absolutely no pictures, unfortunately. But I have a good one from Halloween that year that captures the overall flavor of it. Marina and I made some tunics (badly) and I paired them with my dragon Defiance and a brown leather bandolier ordered off Etsy for a pretty cool look. This was the first year that I didn’t really attempt to look like a “character” necessarily. I had learned that I really enjoyed just finding a version of myself and embracing that in whatever look/AU/aspect struck my fancy. I mixed and matched my tunics (green, blue, and purple) with the previously-used corsets and dragons each day, depending on how comfortable I wanted to be. That bandolier is heavy!
(This was also the year Sarah embraced her Robin Hood love from childhood and went full Will Scarlet.)
2017: Dragons and Space Pirates
2017 was my year as a Subhead-in-Training for CONvergence Operations and…a lot happened. Sarah and I also did another set at HarmCon. The simpler cosplay we did involved me being a dragonrider right out Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. I combined a corset with a shirt with shoulder “armor” (sequins) and my shoulder-dragon I got from Rocky Mountain Dragons whose name is Defiance. Sarah has one in red named Trinket. The picture below is actually from Halloween that year because we forgot to get one at the convention. We were busy!
The whole department was doing a Star Trek day so we built on that theme, but Sarah and I decided to spice it up and add some pirate flair. I wore a tri-corn hat with a tiny starship Enterprise on the side of it and a cool “weapon” I invented from a wrist brace, a flashlight, and some weird odds and ends from the hardware store, plus a ripped up shirt and corset and knee-high boots. Sarah wore a knitted cap (think like Smee would wear) and a vest over a long-sleeved shirt and pants. We both had proper Next Gen communicator pins proudly displayed. I also wore the pips of a Star Trek captain and Sarah wore the pips of my First Officer. Once again, though, the picture is from our set at HarmCon unless someone finds a better one.
2016 turned out to be a big year for us at the convention. Sarah and I were invited to perform with HarmCon, the music track at CONvergence that our friend Beth runs. It was also an anime-themed year, and as much as we’d enjoyed being the Paper Sisters, we were ready for a change. We decided to go Miyazaki instead. For this, we actually worked with a professional who does cosplay and costume design for a living. Marina went as Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, Sarah as Haku from Spirited Away, and me as Nausicaa from Nausicaa of the valley of the wind. If we did a second one that year, I’ll be honest — I don’t remember it. That was also the year the three of us got invited to join the leadership of the Operations team after we’d been volunteering for 2 years prior. And thus a whoooole new world opened up to us.
Unfortunately, somewhere in the crush of things I forgot to actually get a good picture of us. If Marina finds one, I’ll add it. Until then, here’s a screenshot from the video taken of us at HarmCon.
2015: Ready to Fight the Hurricane
2015 is the year I don’t have one of the 2 pictures from, hoping Marina finds one since I know we took it. The first of the two cosplays we did was from the Lego Movie. Sarah was Emmet, complete with the bright orange vest and plastic yellow helmet, Marina was Wyldstyle with awesome tape markings on her clothes, and, for lack of a better idea, I was the hippie version of Morgan Freeman’s god. Most of what I remember from that cosplay was being warm.
The second cosplay we did together was a team effort imitating the pilots from Pacific Rim. I even wrote a whole fanfic fitting the three of us into the universe as pilots of a Jaeger called “Polaris Wild.” We drew up a logo, a backstory, even figured out what the Jaeger would have looked like and how many fights we had together. The cosplay itself was a set of custom-ordered jumpsuits which turned out to be highly impractical if you 1) ever get warm in a crowded hotel (we did) or 2) ever need to pee and don’t want to strip all the way down in a public restroom (we did that, too). But at least they were easy to pack! A blue streak in the hair was all we needed to make the look complete.
2014: The Paper Sisters
2014 was the first time Sarah, Marina, and I decided to really try to *make* a cosplay. We did two, in fact. The easier one was in honor of Greg Weisman being a Guest of Honor. We decided to riff off of the Weird Sisters from Gargoyles. We got our clothing and hair identical (thanks, itchy wigs!) with only variations by color the way they do in the show. We sat in the front row of one of his panels and spent the whole hour moving perfectly in unison and staring at him blank-faced. At the end, we hung around long enough to talk to him and he got it!
(I also have a FANTASTIC shot of us hanging out with some other cosplayers as Puck and Demona, but I don’t have their consent to show their pictures on my website.
The second cosplay we did was the really involved one. We decided to portray The Paper Sisters from the anime R.O.D the TV. Personality-wise, Marina is more like the oldest sister, Michelle, Sarah really identifies with the tallest and middle of the sisters, Maggie, and I’m the most like the youngest spitfire, Anita. Which causes a height problem with me being the tallest. But we don’t go for *accuracy* in cosplay so much as we do fun. So we went for it. We made these costumes from scratch and…they scratched. But they were SO MUCH FUN. And a little photographic trickery made it possible for us to alllllmost look like we got the heights right!
Sarah even made a paper golem on wheels that we dragged around with us. We named him Tiny and, after the heartache we went through to get him to work, we have kept his head all this time!
2013: Humble Beginnings
2013 was not my first year at the convention; I attended in 2010 by myself as a performer and 2011 with Sarah. (And we missed 2012 due to a family event.) But 2013 was the first time we attended dragging our friend Marina along with us, and the theme was “British Invasion.” Given that we were watching a GREAT DEAL of QI on YouTube at the time, we decided to go as QI Elves. Only one person got the joke, but that was enough!