This year, two nerdy events will be happening simultaneously; Wizard World's Comic Con and the Louisiana Renaissance Festival (Ren Fest) in Hammond. Comic Con is happening on one weekend from Friday, Nov. 30 to Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Ernest Morial Convention Center and Ren Fest goes on for much longer; every Saturday and Sunday in November and the fi rst two weeks of December. If you are interested in attending both, you should note that it's always more fun going dressed in a killer costume. Here's where to go to fi nd outfi ts for both events.
Although both of these experiences are about dressing up as any fantastical character you can create, it's best to dress in appropriately themed costumes; the costumery of Ren Fest typically ranges from the time periods of the medieval ages to the 1800s. You'll see people dressed as monks and pirates, belly dancers and popes, and there's even been a squad of kilted Stormtroopers. You can purchase an outfi t from the fest itself from the array of vendors, but to save some money and be fully costumed before you go, there are some places to buy appropriate pieces in New Orleans. For Comic Con, characters from any medium of entertainment are appropriate; comics, movies, TV shows, etc. And if you want to catch the eye of one of the celebrity guests, you can dress as one of their characters. People often have elaborate and large costumes, but keep in mind that it will be packed on the convention fl oor, and the tight crowds may be diffi cult to maneuver if you're outfi t has pieces that stick out, or that you'll have to stand up during the panels.
The eclectic mix of clothing stores in the French Quarter make for a great costume hunting ground. The decades-old Middle Eastern import store located at 432 Barracks St. on the corner of Decatur Street has always been a favorite of mine. They have excellent prices on their jewelry and exotic fabrics. Their items could make a great costume for a belly dancer or pirate outfi t for Ren Fest; especially the gorgeous head jewelry. Their jewelry would also be good Captive Lea costume for Comic Con. Another good store nearby is the Egyptian import store Pharaoh's Cave at 1241 Royal St. And you can always check the vendors' tents at the French Market on the weekends for long, exotic looking skirts although the price may be a bit higher.
For ladies, and adventurous men, corsets are great for both events. If you're going to get one, I suggest investing in a good piece that can last you a lifetime and will have the strength to function well, meaning it can withstand the force of being laced tightly. You can fi nd many options at Trashy Diva at two locations: on 2048 Magazine St. and 829 Chartres St. in lots of styles. The alternative/ gothic clothing stores also have pieces fi t for men and women including corsets like Wicked Orleans at 1201 Decatur, Road Kill at 903 Decatur, and Kulture Vulture at 523 Dumaine. Wicked Orleans also has great shirts for men if they're going for the pirate or vampire look, appropriate for both events.
Great places to fi nd odd and unique clothing are resale and consignment stores. For example, years ago I found a full chainmail headdress at a consignment store on Magazine Street for just $18! That piece could sell at Ren Fest for much more. Look for long, fl owing skirts for an older look and space age pieces for a stand-out costume. Magazine Street especially has many quirky consignment and vintage stores like Funky Monkey at 3127 Magazine St. and Buffalo Exchange on 3312 Magazine St. that have oneof-a-kind clothes to help you piece together an outfi t.
Many people want the authentic, licensed superhero costumes. Chain costume stores like Party City will probably have a plethora of them on sale for the post-Halloween season. This is the option for those wanting to impress comic book guru Stan Lee, who will be appearing for the second year at Comic Con. Superman actor Dean Cain and Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart will surely have lots of fans wearing red undies and blue tights with capes or Trekkie uniforms. For the second year, and a personal highlight, Boondock Saints actors Norman Reedus, Sean Patrick Flanery, and David Della Rocco will no doubt fi ll their panel to capacity again. Their costumes are easy to mimic: black pants and t-shirt with a black duster jacket. Sunglasses are optional. You can fi nd more superhero clothes as well as pirate, knight, and queen costumes at local costume resale and rental stores. Miss Claudia's Vintage Clothing and Costumes on 4204 Magazine St. is a local legend for their vast selection.
As you can imagine, monsters of every kind are big at Comic Con. The NOLA Krewe of the Living Dead Social Aid and Pleasure Club will be well represented and are leading the Chewbaccus Parade at the convention. There's not much to being a zombie; you just have to wear tattered clothing and have good undead makeup. The fun is deciding what kind of zombie to be, which can be anything from cheerleader to politician, even a zombie hunter.
Dressing up for Ren Fest and Comic Con are not required but are half the fun. If you decide to indulge, be ready for people wanting to take pictures of you. You might even feel out of place by wearing your regular clothing amidst the fl amboyant crowds.