Are you ready for the ConQuesT masquerade? Bring your best costume and show it off onstage at  our annual Saturday night competition. Plan to attend a rehearsal on Saturday afternoon (June 3) and the Masquerade on Saturday evening. 

Let us know you’re planning to compete by filling out our online registration form. And don’t forget to get your ConQuesT registration at the door, if you don’t have one already!

What is the ConQuesT Masquerade?

The ConQuesT Masquerade is a costume competition modeled on the guidelines set by the International Costumers Guild (ICG). The ICG guidelines are designed to encourage novice costumers, recognize achievement based on experience level, and promote development of costume and cosplay skills at all levels. All experience levels are welcomed and encouraged to participate.

The Masquerade staff is here to help you present your costume at your absolute best. We’re on your side! Masquerade competition is fun and exciting, and is for everyone who wants to show off a costume on stage.

Please read through all information so that you understand this style of competition and can be ready to compete when you arrive at ConQuesT.

How to Compete

  1. Make a costume!
  2. Make a soundtrack! (optional) Our masquerade space is small enough that dialogue should be able to be heard if you speak up. Alternatively, the MC can read a script for you, if you’d like. But if you want your own music or soundtrack, you need to save it as a sound file on a thumb drive. You should bring any scripts or music to your rehearsal.
  3. Register! Find the Masquerade table at the convention when you arrive. We’ll have everything you need to register. If you have one, bring your sound file on a thumb drive or a written script for the MC at this time.
  4. Come to rehearsal! You must attend your rehearsal in order to compete. This will take place sometime between 10 AM and 5 PM on the Saturday of convention. You can find out the exact times at the masquerade table near registration.
  5. Arrive at the Green Room! The “Green Room” is at the back of the masquerade room. It’s where we organize all participants and get everyone ready for the show. It’s also where Workmanship Judging takes place. If you want to compete for Workmanship prizes, arrive at the beginning of the Green Room time and line up for judging.
  6. Take your turn on stage! Your time on stage is when you will be judged for Presentation.
  7. Receive the applause and admiration of everyone in the room!

So that’s how you actually do it. But there’s still a lot more to know about ICG-style masquerades. Please take the time to read about the details of this competition.

Competition Levels

ICG competition offers categories based on achievement and experience so that beginner and intermediate competitors are able to compete without being overshadowed by people who have been doing this for years or who have professional training.

  • Assembled Costume: This is a non-ICG category. If more than 50% of your costume is “off the rack” or presented as it was purchased, then you must enter it as an Assembled Costume. This category is eligible for Presentation awards, but not Workmanship. If you have purchased but significantly modified part of your costume (embroidery, painting, grommets, gears, fabric dying, etc.), it counts as something you made, not “off the rack.”
  • Junior: Competitors who are 12 or under.
  • Novice: This is for people who are beginners to costuming or competing. To compete as a novice, you must have never won a major award at a ICG-style regional masquerade or cosplay competition, and you may not be a professional costumer, seamstress, or tailor. Upon winning a major award at the Novice level (ie. Best in Class, Best in Show), you may no longer compete as a Novice and must advance to the Journeyman level.
  • Journeyman: This is the category for intermediate costumers. To compete as Journeyman, you must not have won more than three major awards at the Intermediate/Journeyman level at an ICG-style regional masquerade or cosplay competition, and you must not be a professional costumer, sewer, or tailor. Upon winning three major awards at the Journeyman level, you may no longer compete as a Journeyman, and must advance to the Master/Craftsman level.
  • Master/Craftsman: The Master/Craftsman level is an open level, which means that anyone can choose to compete as a Master if they want to do so. But two groups of people are required to compete as a Master. You are required to enter as a Master if you have won more than three major awards at the regional level, or one major award at the national level. National level competitions include Costume Con, World Con, and Anime North. You are also required to compete as a Master if you are a professional costumer, sewer, or tailor. If you have a college degree in clothing design, or your profession (greater than 50% of your income) includes the design and construction of clothing or costumes, you are a Master and may not compete as a Novice or Intermediate.
  • Exhibition Only: If you want to get on stage and show off a costume, but you are either ineligible to compete or you don’t wish to be considered for competition, you may participate as “Exhibition Only.” This choice is usually used by people who have won a major award with that costume, but want to show it off again.
  • Leveling Up by Choice: Any competitor can choose to compete at a higher level. If you have never won any award in costume competition, and you are not a professional costumer, you may still choose to compete as a Journeyman or Master if you feel that would be the most appropriate for your ability level, but you don’t have to. You just can’t compete at a lower level. So a Journeyman can choose to compete as a Master, but not as a Novice.

If you are unsure of the appropriate level for you, please ask our Masquerade staff when you register for the competition.


Next, if you’re going to compete, you need to understand our judging system.

Judging in ICG-style competition is typically done by experienced costumers and cosplayers. They’ve been in your shoes. They understand how nervous people can be. They’ve spent years learning presentation, sewing, and crafting skills. Mostly, they want everyone to do their personal best, learn something new, and be rewarded for achievement.

We have two categories for judging: Workmanship and Presentation.

Workmanship judging takes place in the two hours prior to competition in the Green Room. All entries that are not “Assembled Costumes” are eligible for Workmanship judging. Although Workmanship judging is optional, we encourage everyone to go for it. Our judges are experienced costumers who know how hard it is to make a costume yourself, and they’re looking to give awards for all the things you did right. This isn’t a final exam in school where you get points off. When presenting to the judge, tell them which parts you made or modified yourself. Tell them how you did it. Show off a bit! This is your time to brag about all the hand-stitching you did!

Part of Workmanship judging is Documentation. While you’re making your costume, take photos of your process and progress. If you’re making a replica of a character costume from your favorite movie, TV show, or even a book, bring photos of the character in costume or passages of the source material with the character description. This is NOT required, but it helps the judges to evaluate your work, especially if they are unfamiliar with the character that you are portraying.

Presentation judging is what happens when you go on stage. A panel of judges will be watching you from the front of the audience. They want to see how you actually show off your costume when you’re up there. Make sure that the judges get to see all sides of the costume! Dazzle them with light-up accessories, surprise them with costumes that transform, make them laugh with your clever ideas, or just wow them by showing how your costume moves with you as you cross the stage. Remember, it’s not an acting competition. The point is ultimately to show off your costume.

The only things being judged are your costume and your presentation. Here are a few things that we do NOT take into account when judging: Body shape, body size, skin tone, height, physical ability, gender, sex, or the popularity of the costume source material.

Rules and Restrictions

Here’s the fine print. Please heed the restrictions in your planning process. If your entry violates these restrictions, you may be disqualified from receiving any awards.

  1. No costume is no costume. Body paint alone is not a costume. All genitalia must be covered. If you are wearing a skin-tight bodysuit and the shape of your crotch can be seen, you should wear a dance belt or similar garment. If your costume would get you arrested for public nudity while walking down the sidewalk outside the hotel, it won’t be acceptable at ConQuest.
  2. An entry with 1 to 3 participants must last no longer than 60 seconds. An entry with 4 or more participants has a time limit of 90 seconds. The time is marked by the length of your soundtrack or the approximate time from when you step onto stage until when you step off. Longer isn’t always better. The best presentations often last between 20 and 40 seconds.
  3. If you want music played or the MC to read a script, it must be provided in advance. All pre-recorded music or content or any scripts for the MC must be provided at rehearsal time. Please plan for this. Pre-recorded sound should be in MP3 format on a thumb drive. The MC would prefer scripts to be printed in a large font, size 14 or higher, instead of handwritten.
  4. Do not use props that shoot projectiles, liquids, glitter, confetti, fire, or other messy things onstage. (Lights and small amounts of water-vapor “smoke” are fine.)
  5. You can surprise the judges (please surprise the judges!), but do not surprise the MC, the sound/light techs, or your Masquerade Director. How you rehearse is how you compete.
  6. No sexually explicit content.
  7. No words or lyrics that would be bleeped on prime time TV.
  8. Don’t throw or launch anything from the stage into the audience.
  9. Do not darken your skin to look like a different human race. (Painting yourself a non-human color like green or blue is fine.)
  10. You may assemble large pieces or do emergency repairs to your costume in the Green Room, but your costume itself must be functionally complete before you arrive at the Green Room.
  11. Costumes that have won a major award at the international level (World Con, Anime North, Costume Con) can not be entered for competition, but may be entered as “Exhibition Only.”
  12. A costume may be worn by a person who did not create the costume. In that case, Workmanship awards are given to the person who made the costume, and Presentation awards are given to the person who wears the costume onstage.

Let us know you’re planning to compete by filling out our online registration form. And don’t forget to get your ConQuesT registration at the door, if you don’t have one already!