Cosplay, a word of Japanese origin that in English is short for "costume display" or "costume play", is a performance art in which participants wear costumes and accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually always identified with a unique name (as opposed to a generic word). These costume wearers often interact to create a subculture centered on role play, so they can be seen most often in play groups, or at a gathering or convention. A significant number of these costumes are homemade and unique, and depend on the character, idea, or object the costume wearer is attempting to imitate or represent. The costumes themselves are often artistically judged to how well they represent the subject or object that the costume wearer is attempting to contrive.
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The custom of guising at Halloween in North America is first recorded in 1911, where a newspaper in Kingston, Ontario reported children going "guising" around the neighborhood. In 19th century America, Halloween was often celebrated with costume parades and "licentious revelries". However, efforts were made to "domesticate" the festival to conform with Victorian era morality. Halloween was made into a private rather than public holiday, celebrations involving liquor and sensuality de-emphasized, and only children were expected to celebrate the festival. Early Halloween costumes emphasized the gothic nature of Halloween, and were aimed primarily at children. Costumes were also made at home, or using items (such as make-up) which could be purchased and utilized to create a costume. But in the 1930s, A.S. Fishbach, Ben Cooper, Inc., and other firms began mass-producing Halloween costumes for sale in stores as trick-or-treating became popular in North America. Halloween costumes are often designed to imitate supernatural and scary beings. Costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, skeletons, witches, goblins, trolls, devils, etc. or in more recent years such science fiction-inspired characters as aliens and superheroes. There are also costumes of pop culture figures like presidents, athletes, celebrities, or characters in film, television, literature, etc. Another popular trend is for women (and in some cases, men) to use Halloween as an excuse to wear sexy or revealing costumes, showing off more skin than would be socially acceptable otherwise. Young girls also often dress as entirely non-scary characters at Halloween, including princesses, fairies, angels, cute animals and flowers.
If a couple dozen Marvel films weren't enough for you, we have good news. There isn't a better place to look when you need to find a group of 5 Halloween costumes that will scratch your superpowered itch. All you need to decide is which Avengers character everyone will be! Remember, whosoever is worthy gets to become Thor. And if you can't decide who gets to dress as Iron Man, you can take comfort in the fact that Stark has a lot of different suits to pick!