Huge hair pieces, intricate horns, giant antlers, hovering helmets -- artwork and costume concepts have truly grown to be ‘out of this world’. The hairpieces and other head-centric costume parts that cannot be found in the real world (on humans, at least) have challenged cosplayers for a few key reasons:
- Weight: There’s a lot of weight that a body can take in armors and props, but on your head? That’s a whole new level of not only comfort but safety.
- Transport: Cosplayers typically need to transport their costumes, but headpieces can be a real challenge if they aren’t designed to break down like armor and props. We must think of headpieces as another piece of armor or a prop weapon, and that includes ease of transport.
- Design: If a design is not made for real world scenarios, that doesn't’ mean you have to scrap it. In fact, most cosplays challenge reality, so translating an unreal design into a real world costume is not just about the armor and props; it’s also about your wig and headpiece.
The same planning and fabrication that goes into your costume must also go into your headpiece, so consider the three points above when planning on how you are creating your cosplay wig and headpieces first before diving in.
One of the biggest ways to achieve the best of the three points above is in breaking down your headpiece into manageable parts that can be disassembled and reassembled easily. This can cut down on not only the weight of the item itself but also makes for easier transport and, ultimately, a better design for the wearer.
There are endless ways to attach large wig pieces and headpieces to a base wig, but here are some more tried-and-true methods that are used widely in the cosplay community today:
1. Buckles and Snaps
Perhaps one of the less obvious ways to attach a headpiece like a crown or mask is with buckles sewn into the wig. For instance, if you want a crown or mask to stay secured to your head/face without simply sitting atop your wig, secure one half of a buckle or snap to nylon strapping and then glue the strapping to the inside of your crown/mask.
For the other half of the buckle/snap, secure it to nylon strapping as well and then find where the strapping would need to connect to your wig in order to allow the crown/mask to sit properly on your head. Slide the nylon under an inch or two of hair, being sure not to pull the hair unnaturally up or to the side, and sew the end of the nylon strap directly to the wig base.
I did this for my mask for Pride (pictured above) with magnetic snaps because the mask appears to simply connect to her face with no real ties. The added benefit is that the weight of the mask helped offset the weight of the wig, keeping everything in check on my head.
2. Chicago Screws
If you’re looking to attach any type of headpiece like antlers or horns but without a headband peeking out -- AND you want it to be detachable -- then I’d highly recommend Chicago Screws or Neodymium Magnets. I prefer the screws because a magnet can detach when bumped or grazed roughly, but screws are solid.
For this, you will need to secure the short female part of the screw set into your horn or antler. I typically fill the base of my horn or antler with foam and then carve out a little hole to insert the screw piece. A little hot glue or Gorilla Glue ensures that the screw piece stays in place.
Then, cut a hole in your wig (just a little 2mm clip) where you want the attachment to connect. Underneath the wig, push the long part of the screw up through a piece of Worbla or other firm surface (I make an X with Worbla that’s about 3 inches across, heat form it to the shape of my head for comfort, and then push the screw up through the center of the X, or you can simply use a headband!) and then through the opening in your wig. From here, screw the long piece up through your wig into the female connector in your horn or antler. Cowbutt Crunchies did an excellent walkthrough video on this, which you can see HERE.
The best part with this method is that it’s not permanent, as you can unscrew the connection and remove the antlers for transport -- or even reuse the wig, as the hole you created in your wig is easily covered with hair. I reused my wig with the antlers for another cosplay, and the ‘damage’ from the attachment was virtually unnoticed.
3. Nail and Glue
This is the more permanent form of the Chicago Screw, and it works well for large attachments that don’t need to be removed for transport (but that need a little extra support with inner structures).
For my crazy pig tails for Dr. Robotnik, I made two separate insulation foam cores for the hair pieces and covered the cores in wig hair. Then, to attach to my wig, I did the same method as Chicago Screws (clip a hole in the wig base) but instead of having a female connector in the headpiece, I simply drove a nail up from underneath the wig (through Worbla like before) and glued the nail to the innards of the foam core for each pigtail.
This is permanent, as you can’t rip apart the nail once it’s glued into the headpiece, but it does work for attaching more unwieldy pieces to a wig base. Kinpatsu Cosplay did an excellent walkthrough on this technique, and her video is certainly worth the watch.
Whether it’s buckles, snaps, screws, or nails -- there are a ton of ways to secure a headpiece aside from gluing it to a headband. The best part is that many of these methods not only look better, but they can be easy to break down for transport or reuse as well.