Historical Masquerade

Thank you for your interest in competing in the CostumeCon 39 Historical Masquerade Contest. Every convention and competition is unique in their rules, process and requirements. It is advised and required that you read and understand ours.

The Historical Masquerade is an event focusing on different historical categories (see below).  For Costume-Con 39, items should be from 1986 or earlier.

The Basics

The Basics:

All contestants must:

  1. Be an attending member of Costume-Con 39.
  2. Fill out the Historical Masquerade entry form, including the Release & Waiver
  3. Be 18 years or older, or have the entry form signed by a parent or legal guardian.
  4. Read and understand the competition and performance rules.

The Historic Masquerade will follow the International Costumers’ Guild (ICG) Guidelines for International Level Masquerades and Competitions.  All entries are eligible for Best in Class and Best in Show.

Pre-registration is expected, and you will fill out the forms here.  You will need to CHECK-IN at the Masquerade desk on Friday or Saturday to get your Green Room/Backstage credentials, schedule/confirm your Workmanship judging time, verify that all files are on hand, etc.  You must CHECK-IN at the Masquerade Desk (Green Room) on Sunday at 5:00pm.  Failure to do so will result in your entry being dropped.

Once registered, you will be sent your entry number through email. If we receive more than 30 entries, you will be placed on the waiting list and will advance up if other contestants drop out. If you advance, the primary contact and all listed contacts in the registration form will be notified.  (The entry number is not necessarily the run order number.)

It is critical that we have accurate contact information, as we will email the primary contact for your group on a regular basis with important updates. If you need to change your registration information or drop out from the competition, please email the Masquerade Director at historical@costumecon39.org with your changes and modifications. 

Supporting documents, including copies of forms, music, and documentation, will be submitted into a designated online folder. You will be provided with the link once you are accepted.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask historical@costumecon39.org



The Historic Masquerade will use the following categories:

  • Historic Reproduction: This category is for costumes that are based on a specific, existing costume, painting, or illustration. The goal of an Historic Reproduction is to look exactly like the original costume or illustration.
  • Historic Dress: This category is for entries who are attempting to look like they came from the time and place they are creating. These costumes are original in design, but must adhere to period characteristics of fabric, color, fabrication, and style.
  • Historic Interpretation: This category is for those costumes based on an Historic period and place, but which intentionally, visibly and obviously depart from it. If the judges have to ask you why your costume is an interpretation, it probably belongs in Historic Dress.
  • Hollywood Historical: This is recreation of Hollywood costumes of stage – big and little screen – meant to interpret a historical garment. It does not matter when the production was released, but the time period of the production is a factor. (For example, Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra and Downton Abbey are both acceptable.) 
  • Hysterical historical: Humorous interpretation of historical dress or events. For example, cavemen, confused lost knights of the round table, or the 3 amigos.

Skill Divisions

Skill Divisions

We divide our competition into three skill divisions: Open, Journeyman, and Novice.

  • Open Division:
    • Any competitor may enter in the Open Division.
  • Journeyman Division:
    • You may not enter in the Journeyman Division if any of the following apply:
      • Professional costumers, or those who run a business of commission-based cosplay
      • You have won a Best-in-Show major regional, national, or international competition
      • You have won any award in the Open or Master Division at any other major convention
      • You have won Best in Class in the Journeyman division or Best in Show at a Costume-Con Historic Masquerade
      • You possess a Costume Laurel in the Society for Creative Anachronism or a similar accolade in an equivalent organization
  • Novice Division
    • You may not enter in the Novice Division if any of the following apply:
      • Professional costumers, or those who run a business of commission-based cosplay
      • You have won any awards at a major regional, national or international competition
      • You have won more than 3 awards at prior Historic Masquerade or other regional conventions
      • You have won Best in Class in the Novice division or Best in Show at a Costume-Con Historic Masquerade
      • You possess a Costume Laurel in the Society for Creative Anachronism or a similar accolade in an equivalent organization

Mixed Division groups

At times, groups might be comprised of people from multiple skill levels. For these groups, individual outfits will be judged based on the skill of those that constructed the garments; for costumes where multiple people have worked on significant portions* of the garment, then the highest skill level will be used. 

Groups awards will be blended at the judging panel’s discretion, and a large group with one Open or master level competitor and a number of journeyman will not automatically be put into Open competition without discussing it with the group first. and reaching a consensus or understanding the reasons. 

* This is not simply making minor corrections or offering advice but active construction and or correction of errors.  The judges are skilled enough to see skilled handy work, honestly it is always encouraged and is never a negative to the overall judging of the entry.

Judging and Awards

Judging & Awards

Our panel of judges is empowered to make independent decisions on the awarding of prizes and recognition and is selected from the Historic costuming community to judge competitions. Each judge has their own unique skill and background, and they work collectively to determine awards. 

Judges will make awards in three areas: Presentation, Documentation and Workmanship & Details


Presentation judging is based on what is seen on the stage.  You do not need to have a skit, but you do need to clearly show off your work.


Every entry must submit the basic documentation at a minimum (see below for details). Documentation must be turned in to the Historical Masquerade registration desk in advance:

  • Upload a copy to the designated online folder (preferred)
  • Bring a print copy to the Masquerade Desk by 8:00 p.m Saturday of the convention.
  • If we do not receive the documentation in time, (what happens?)

A build diary or videos of construction and process are always welcome. If your documentation is extensive, you might be asked to select key points.

Basic Documentation:

Basic documentation should include:

  • Title of costume
  • Entry category (see Categories list)
  • Person(s) responsible for the research, construction or presentation of the garments and their roles
  • Brief identifying description of the costume’s historical period, geographic origin, social class, and so forth. 
    • The “brief identifying description” should include evidence of the historical basis for the costume. This could be as little as one photo of a single picture with an identifying caption or it could be more comprehensive. Assume that the judges are not familiar with the costume(s). You may wish to begin with a brief statement of what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Bibliography of sources
Advanced documentation: 

In going beyond the minimal requirements, your documentation should include the following:

  • Pattern sources – if any, or extent garment sources
  • Images of visual sources, such as artwork, costume drawings, and sketches, that you used
  • Rationales for design and for choices of fabrics and colors
  • Swatches of fabric and trim
  • Your own photograph(s) of original historical garments or accessories
  • Brief descriptions of any special skills or tools you used, such as shoemaking, weaving, or welding
Outstanding documentation:

Outstanding documentation should demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the historical source(s) on which a costume is based, with rationales for all elements of the costume, including undergarments, accessories, and minor details, and explanations for deviations from the norm of the period. It is organized logically and neatly, and presented attractively.

Outstanding documentation should be brief, long enough to get your point across, but no longer than you need to demonstrate the historical basis of the costume. Please be concise. 

Workmanship Judging: 

Make sure you get an appointment for workmanship judging. 

Before the show, by appointment, each entry will meet with the panel of judges to show the garments. Entrants will be expected to show the judges all necessary parts of the costume. If you want the judges to note especially an item or element of the costume, be prepared to point it out to them.

We recommend that you carry the garment to the prejudging, rather than wear it, so that the judges may handle and examine your work inside and out. However, if you need to wear it to demonstrate  fit & tailoring, you may put on parts of the garment or ask for a follow-up appointment at the show.

Competition Rules

Competition Rules

All contestants must adhere to the Performance Rules as detailed below.

  1. Check in at the Masquerade Desk on Friday or Saturday to get your credentials for Stage and Green Room access, and verify that we have received your music and documentation files. Otherwise, you will be dropped from the Masquerade.
  2. MAXIMUM stage time:
    • Maximum performance entry time is 1 minute 30 seconds. 
    • If you think you need more time, you must get permission from the Masquerade Director
  3. Number of Contestants:
    • Up to 12 contestants are allowed to appear on stage. You must get permission from the Masquerade Director if you have more people.
    • ALL members of a performance must be present at the pre-Masquerade meeting 
    • Each person can only participate in one performance. You cannot appear in multiple performances unless cleared in advance by the Masquerade Director.
  4. Any costume that is: purchased or rented from a costume shop, designer direct, eBay, Yahoo Auction, Cospa, any other costuming store, online resource, or any costume made for you by a designer or seamstress is prohibited from entering the competition. Modified or enhanced costumes will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  5. No nudity or overtly sexual content
  6. No blackface, brownface, yellowface, etc, or attempts to mimic racial features you do not possess.  Your costume will stand on its own without the need to make potentially culturally, racially or religiously insensitive references.  ‘My culture is not your costume’ – there are multiple sources on the web for more nuanced information or reach out to the Historical Masquerade Director to discuss.
  7. Entries from previous CostumeCons or WorldCon conventions will automatically be considered non-competition unless cleared for competition by the Historical Masquerade Director.
  8. All entries must be based on the following requirements:
    • Any Costume whose design or documented origins are prior to 1986
    • Historical Hollywood reproductions of a time period before 1986
    • Historical-inspired sources; including your own inspiration and supported by documentation
    • The rule of thumb is: if the series and/or character originated near the time cut off, then double check. If you aren’t sure, ask the Historical Masquerade Director.
  9. All performance rules must be followed. Make sure you read and understand our performance rules for the Masquerade.
  10. AUDIO/VIDEO REQUIREMENTS: All entries must provide an audio clip (with music / dialog) or we will provide one for you. There will be a sound technician on call to assist you.  There is NO option for video backgrounds at this event.
  11. WEAPONS: Make sure you read and understand our Weapons Policy for the Masquerade (see below).
  12. PROPS: Make sure to read and understand the Props Policy (see below).


We have a set staff of ninjas to help contestants; their primary function is the safety and smooth performance of the show. If you need to use ninjas as part of your performance to hold props or be part of the act, you are required to inform the Masquerade Director in advance or bring your own. We highly encourage you to bring your own ninjas in these cases.

Weapons Policy

Masquerade allows some Display Weapons, which are not allowed to be carried in the halls. You must follow these steps for these items to be acceptable:

  1. You must check the box on the registration form for “Requires Weapon Master review.”
  2. You must pass inspection from the Masquerade Weapons Master, including choreography, and make any changes required by them.
  3. For safety reasons, all edges must be blunted or protected.
  4. Weapon must be transported to the Masquerade event either boxed or covered. Being part of the Masquerade does not exempt you from rules on the street or in the convention.


All large props (including scenery, backgrounds, etc.) must be:

  • Easy to assemble and disassemble. You have only a few hours before the show. To plan ahead, see here for more information on the stage.
  • Easily moveable, you have 30 seconds (each) to get the props on and off the stage.
  • Brought to rehearsal and stored on-site for the competition.
  • Described in detail on your registration forms. 
  • Immediately disassembled after the Masquerade.
  • Picked up after the competition.

If you are concerned about being able to meet these rules, please contact historical@costumecon39.org to make special arrangements.


  1. All music must be provided in advance (online or during in-person registration) , confirmed by close of registration, or you will not be allowed to participate.
  2. DIALOGUE / MUSIC LENGTH: You have a MAXIMUM of 1 minute  and 30 seconds for your dialogue or music.
  3. We accept mp3 formatted files.
  4. We strongly suggest you bring an extra copy of the file, in case of damage