End of Season Cosplay Storage

Halloween has just concluded. This also marks the end of the convention season for the year. A lot of members who participate in Star Trek cosplay have spent the year preparing, fixing and wearing their cosplay at different events. Now what do you do with your cosplay after those events are over and the holiday season moving into full swing? We asked several fleet members this question and here are their responses.

Mindy Madsen (USS Pulsar)

I hand wash everything and make any repairs. I like to make repairs before I put stuff away so that I don’t forget. I store things in totes and I also have hanging racks to hang things on the backs of doors for the costumes that can’t go in totes.

I put dryer sheets in with my wigs to keep them fresh and to help with static. Any props that have batteries in them, I take the batteries out so they don’t corrode

Brooke Wilkins (USS Pulsar)

I’m glad to help out. Before storing any costumes/clothing, I make sure it’s cleaned appropriately. Storing dirty clothes makes everything around it start to stink. That means washing, dry cleaning or spraying with Lysol. I will also use fabric fresh if needed. Dust and light damage clothes and costumes, so it’s best to store them in the dark – the way closets usually are, and to keep them in such a way that dust is kept off as much as possible. Perhaps that means boxes, or rack covers or garment bags. Or in a closed closet. Rack covers don’t have to be expensive: I use old curtains or (clean) sheets thrown over my racks. I have space in a closet specifically for costumes that need to be repaired. Then I can restock them after they’re repaired.

I also store the costumes in a way that makes sense for me to be able to find them again when I’m looking. My system is that costumes that are specifically a certain character and nothing else (like Star Trek Uniforms, Peter Pan, Ripley, Morticia, etc) are in one section. Then I have sections for historical periods: ancient, ren/medieval, 18th and 19th centuries and 20th century. The 20th century I divide into sections for coats, shirts, capes (capes aren’t really 20th century but they’re so generic and coat like that I keep them by the coats), skirts, pants, etc.

I have labeled boxes for shoes, wigs, hats, weapons, accessories, and a place to keep long thin things like swords, umbrellas and canes. And all of my sections are in rainbow order as follows: ROYGBV, brown, white, grey, black.

Not everyone has that many costumes – for most people the key will be to clean and repair before storing, and then store in a cool, dark and dust free place. And whatever organization system used, labels or clear boxes are always helpful. Utah doesn’t really have a problem with clothes eating insects, so we don’t have to worry about using moth balls to keep those kinds of insects out. But do what you can to keep rodents and insects in general out.

Also – make up goes bad, so it’s not the best idea to keep it for years on end, though you can try.

Hope that’s helpful.

Damon Ricks (USS Ticonderoga)

I can answer partially due to the groups that I associate with and the uses that I primarily have them for.

Caring for the costumes is far and away more on the agenda vs storage. I would have to say that even when the convention ends, October moves into the winter months and the DS9 and Klingon settle down for the cold months, the 501st and Rebel Legion don’t even slow down.

Storage is mainly finding a good solid tote that holds all the parts without having them too squished in, thus for me it is more a matter of continual maintenance on a year round basis, so let’s look at that.

Much of the care and upkeep vary based on the costumes, so I’ll divide them into 2 categories, cloth/soft goods heavy and foam/prosthetic/leather heavy.

The cloth type costumes such as Jedi, Tusken Raider, DS9, Klingon or a Fleet uniform are primarily a matter of just keeping them clean and not smelling like they were worn through the entire Rebellion without being washed.

If they were worn in cooler temperatures for a short time, just hanging them to air out, or a quick spray with Febreze does the job. Otherwise, I’ll hand wash them and air dry, iron if they need it and carefully fold them for storage with the leather or latex parts layered between the cloth so they don’t stick together.

The other category, however, is entirely a different matter. Much of the light care still holds, such as airing them out and occasionally a hit with Febreze, but for those items such as leather, foam, and latex, those need special care.

For latex, it’s a good idea to regularly wash them out on the inside with a clean rag and warm water. Give them a pat down dry with a towel, then some time to air out before storage.

The leather is mainly a matter of airing out, as the stains tend to add to the weathered look.

The most important, or I should say, attention necessary, are the foam parts.

My Gamorrean, for example, has arms and legs that are latex covered foam, and they can get wet with sweat quickly. That can lead to actually smelling like a real Gamorrean in no time.

After each use, I sprinkle the insides with baby powder and then leave them out to air dry for a day or so. The powder absorbs the wet, but more importantly it helps keep the parts smelling nice.

Finally, I have an air brush system for those paint touch ups, 2 sewing machines for the occasional tear, and more tape, glue, epoxy and Velcro than any single human not in Hollywood should ever own.

So to sum up a far more drawn out explanation than may have been necessary, it is a lot like taking care of ourselves as we get older. Wash em, air em out, sew em up, glue em back together, and add paint as needed to keep em attractive, so that you’ll have em ready to go for a long long time no matter which Galaxy your from or headed out to visit!

Marla Trowbridge (Seventh Fleet Academy)

Make sure that any natural fiber uniforms or costumes are stored with cedar blocks or moth balls. We do have moths in Utah that can easily eat through those materials and damage uniforms, if not destroy them. Store them in wardrobe bags and put them away clean.

Most need to be washed inside out or dry cleaned. Remove all pins and special trims if you can. Very gentle washing as needed.

Michael Hansen (USS Delaware)

As a Cosplayer who has different costumes all that I usually do is just hang them up in the closet and tucked away. But what I have now is very simple Star Trek uniforms from different eras and now a classic Battlestar Galactica viper outfit.

However if I were to make or get costumes more complex like stormtrooper or clone trooper armor I would probably tuck them away in boxes or something. Put away in a safe place to keep it preserved. Is there any specific details you might like?

I can say to when washing the costumes to always use the best washing chemicals or types that are best for the costume in question. I also can say that sometimes the most unexpected tricks can help with some of the cheaper costumes. For example with my VGR gold costume at the front the ends under the collar tended to tip down due to its cheap manner of construction. What I did with this was put in Velcro to hold it up so the uniform would look better and it worked. So I would suggest that to anyone who has that same uniform to try that. Another thing is to look around for ways to customize or modify your costume if you wish to make it more accurate. For my BSG outfit I actually ended up with two jackets as one was less accurate that the other and I am looking into where to buy better parts to modify them with. Namely the buckles. So my suggestion with that would be look around on the internet and ask friends who have worked on the type of costume before.

Joe McShinsky (USS Kelly)

When it comes to the end of the year for cosplay storage, I actually keep them right alongside the rest of my clothing. At some point in the past, my closet ended up having more cosplay in it than regular clothing. I ended up keeping everything right in the closet and didn’t bother with storage bins or anything else as hanging them up was already working for me. This is true for pants as well as they hang great on kids hangers.

One important thing that I do is keep them in garment bags to mitigate the dust. It’s amazing how much dust collects on stuff even though they are in the closet. The other benefit to this is that it keeps most of the cosplay all in one place (props/etc excluded).

Over the years we’ve collected a lot of kids costumes as well and the bags that they come in have a hangar on them for store displays. The kids costume ends up in a gallon zip-lock baggie (thrown into a storage tote) and I keep the bang/hanger combo. This works well for items that don’t really work on a hanger but still provides the benefit of hanging right with or by the cosplay their associated with.

Eric Allan Hall (USS Kelly)

Short Answer:

These are zip up mini closets from IKEA. I generally leave my closet pieces open, but you CAN zip them up, like if you keep them in a garage. Sometimes I would use one of those cedar hangar things inside the mini closets, but otherwise, not really.

Between my events with Heroic, dress up days at work, cosplay karaoke, and other events, my costumes are in a pretty decent rotation, so he doesn’t really store anything for a long period of time (like years).

Most of my stuff is machine washable, or I clean with Woolite in the sink. For my suits (Doctor Who, Remus Lupin, Joker, etc.), I use Dryel, the home dry cleaning you can do in the dryer.
Other non-washable things like my Borg outfit, I use Febreze spray.

I also use the giant Zip lock bags to keep some costumes and props together, like for Scarecrow, Genie, my Mummy, my Witch Doctor, etc. That way, I can keep the mask, body suit, accessories like necklaces, wrist bands, gloves, wigs, and so forth together so I don’t spend time hunting everything down.


As you can see, these members not only have experience with Star Trek cosplay, but with other cosplay opportunities as well (HEROIC Inc, Evermore, Star Wars groups, etc.). There are a variety of cleaning and storage options that you can look into so the investment in your cosplay can last for quite some time.

Thank you to the members who responded to our question. We will be asking questions for future blog posts as well.

Do you have any suggestions that you would like to share? Make a comment below or email them to Webmaster@SeventhFleet.org

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