January 31, 2017

[Sponsored] Lens review: O-lens BaviPhat 3 Color Pink

Hello world!

Here comes a review for a really natural and ultra comfortable pink lens, namely the O-lens BaviPhat 3 Color Pink. I got these lenses from my newest sponsor, Pinkicon, and this post will thus also include a quick store review. ^_^ They contacted me a while ago and invited me to review a pair of lenses from their shop! Of course I accepted the offer!

The lenses in this post were kindly sponsored by Pinkicon.
All my reviews are 100% my honest, unbiased opinion. Always.

Base curve: 8.6 mm
Diameter: 14.5 mm
Water content: 38%
Life span: 6 months

Before I go on with the actual review I want to say a few words about my experiences and thoughts about Pinkicon's store and customer service.
Pinkicon is a circle lens shop based in Hong Kong. I must admit that based on the country of origin I was a bit worried at first, mainly because Hong Kong is largely known as a "bootleg country", meaning where a lot of counterfeit goods come from. Good thing is that I knew about their shop before they contacted me (thanks to having read reviews by some friends) and thus I also knew that they weren't shady but actually a trustable store – yet I had never bought anything from them before.
So yeah, they contacted me and invited me to review a pair of lenses, gave me some options, I picked out the one that interested me the most and they sent the lenses and gave me a tracking number; tracking numbers are always an appreciated addition! I decided to go with pink lenses because they stood out from the swarms of brown options and I was excited about the idea of an unnatural color like pink looking unnaturally... natural.

Pinkicon seem to focus more on daily and casual/everyday lenses, instead of more vibrant costuming ones – so if you enjoy more natural-looking lenses then Pinkicon is a good store to check out. They also carry a bunch of brands that were previously unknown to me (and I know a lot of brands, haha) and also have some well-known ones, like EOS, Dueba, Neo, Freshlook etc. :) Of course they also carry the ever popular GEO lenses.
On a quick glance it seemed like a majority of the lenses were brown in color (or meant to enhance dark eyes), especially those from the brands that I didn't recognize. This is just a wild guess from my side but I think that some of those brands that are new to me might be popular daily brands in Asia; I'm not as invested in everyday circle lens brand knowledge. ^^"

My first impression of the store itself was that it looks a bit crammed/cluttered (so many images on the front page!) but it's also surprisingly easy to navigate, I have to admit. There's a convenient brand list and tabs that you can hover over to find what you need. Pinkicon carries more than just contact lenses as well – you can buy cosmetics, beauty products and even some wigs. As you can guess from the name the main color on the website is pink and it gives a really cute and feminine touch to the site.

I can't say much about customer service except that their English is surprisingly good and they answer within reasonable times. I got my lenses in approximately two weeks, which is pretty standard for a shipment from Asia to Europe. I really have nothing to complain about and I'm happy to get this chance to do a review for them and try out a new brand of circle lenses! I would recommend Pinkicon, especially if you like to wear natural or semi-natural circle lenses in your daily life!

So I got my package in about two weeks and it was one of those ordinary bubblewrap envelopes. The lenses came in a cute plastic package and were safely wrapped in bubblewrap. I also got a printed order confirmation sheet, a Pinkicon booklet showcasing the O-lens series collection (it's really nice!) as well as instructions on how to wear and care for contact lenses. I'm not sure why but I also got a GEO lenses paper with lens care instructions as well, even though I did not order GEO lenses. Oh well, at least newcomers can't possibly miss out on how to care and insert your lenses because there were two papers detailing it and even the pretty booklet had a page dedicated to it. xD

Pinkicon package contents.
I want to specify that the O-Lens collection booklet featured several different O-Lens lens series with model photos, eye close-ups (with lens) on the different color choices, information about the lenses (diameter, lifespan, material, water content etc) – it's honestly really nice to look at and it's informative as well. The booklet is mainly in Chinese but the lens specifications are written in English. In the end of the booklet there's a compilation/overview list showing all the lenses and ranging them by lifespan: 1 day, 1 month and 6 months. The list is really convenient and makes it easy to compare all the different series for future purchases – I wish other stores also did this kind of booklets!

The front of the O-Lens BaviPhat Pink's package.
(the lens case is there for size estimate)
The backside of the O-Lens BaviPhat Pink's package.
That's about it for my Pinkicon experience. I must admit that the little pink plastic package the lenses came in was cute and it was also easy to open. Heheh.
Now let's move on to the actual review of the lenses themselves!

~ Lens review ahead! ~

As per usual, before wearing these lenses, I put them to soak in lens solution over the night. Make sure to let your lenses soak for at least 8 hours before wearing them; the solution in the vials that the lenses are stored in is not the same as your ordinary lens solution and thus it might irritate your eyes. It's highly recommended to let your lenses soak before wearing them.

These lenses look semi-natural in their vials, and by this I mean that the color looks sparse enough to be of the kind that will blend naturally into my eyes. These lenses also have a surprisingly thick dark brown limbal ring, which makes your eyes stand out and look bigger. I like how it's brown and not black because the brown color is not as in-your-face and gives a calmer appearance and smoother transition from the pink – it's simply just more discreet and works well with this kind of lens that isn't aiming to be a costuming lens.

One lens in. Notice the enlargement effect.
As you can see the lenses are decent in size but a bit on the big side, especially if we consider that they seem to be aiming to be a more everyday lens. I actually like the enlargement, it doesn't feel overly big or like I'd suddenly have huge doll eyes; I think these BaviPhat lenses would work just fine even without makeup! I'm actually finding myself liking these lenses a lot more than I initially thought I would. Also, a stellar comfort doesn't hurt.

I have light blue-gray eyes naturally and these lenses look pretty lovely on my eyes. I like how the pink doesn't completely disappear into my eyes and you can actually tell what color it's supposed to be, while still letting my real eye color shine through just enough to make the lenses look beautifully semi-realistic. The blending effect is balancing perfectly on that fine line of being eye-catching yet subtle, if that makes sense.
It's a simple lens in terms of design but it has its charm in being just that, simple. I didn't think that pink lenses could look this realistic while still being recognizable as pink. Sometimes having a more toned-down lens is really refreshing after all those super vibrant cosplay lenses; I'm starting to see the appeal of more realistic and 'humble' lenses, haha.

A lot of lens photos ahead!
All photos taken by me during a January afternoon with a semi-clear sky. All close-up photos are free from color filters and such and that's so that the colors would be as true to real life as possible.

Apartment room light. Lamps on.
Facing the window in my apartment. Sun side.
Bathroom light.
Bathroom/shower light. Steamy. My friend recently showered.
Flash photo.
White light in the corridor.
Yellow light in the corridor.
Facing a window in the corridor. Not sun side. Blue hour...?
Facing a window in the corridor. Not sun side.
Weak yellow light in the staircase.
Indoors storage room.
Here's a couple more close-up photos, all taken outdoors!
Of course these are also free from color filters and taken by me as well.

Back against sun. Facing the wall, in other words.
Facing the sun while it's hidden by clouds.
Facing the sun.Winter-time light, aka sun is low on the horizon.
Facing the setting sun.
Holy crabsticks. The comfort. The freakin' comfort.
It was ages ago I last had a lens that was this pleasant to wear! ♥ I seriously was a bit sceptical to these at first but they punched my assumptions where it hurts and grabbed that gold medal. I swear I've worn these for 8+ hours and ever since I inserted them I've barely even noticed that I'm actually wearing circle lenses. These are ultra mega comfortable, easy to insert and thin in a non-frustrating and non-floppy way, lol. I honestly didn't expect these lenses to be anywhere near this amazing to wear! I was expecting average comfort but this is like... one of the best lenses I've ever owned. Holy shiiiiiit. I also want to make it clear that I normally have dry and sensitive eyes and thus it's quite the challenge to find some really comfy lenses sometimes – but O-Lens BaviPhat hit the spot!
These don't blur my vision, no scratchy feelings, no watering eyes, red eyes nor itchiness and I have to remind myself that I'm wearing lenses or I would probably fall asleep with these on, lmao. I even went out in town and visited a friend with these on and all around I couldn't stop being impressed by how invisible the lenses felt in my eyes. If only all lenses could be this perfect in comfort...

Distance photo!

Short summary:

Color: 6/10
For being a more natural lens, yet being pink, the color is surprisingly good! Soft shade.
Design: 6/10
A simple design. It has its charms and works great as a daily lens because it's not too fake looking.
Opacity: 5/10
Blends into my eyes, creating a semi-natural look. The pink still shows up more than I initially expected, a pleasant surprise!
Enlargement: 5/10
Quite big for being a semi-realistic lens. Not overwhelming. Good size.
Comfort: 10/10
Extremely comfortable. I can wear these 9 hours and I don't even feel that I have lenses on, even with my dry and sensitive eyes! Extremely easy to insert. Invisible to wear – exceeded my expectations tenfold!
Naturalness: 5/10
Even for being an unnatural color these come off as semi-natural. The size and the limbal ring gives them away on a closer look, but this is definitely a solid everyday choice for lens lovers!

Thanks you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review! ^0^
Thank you, Pinkicon! ♡

January 26, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Amari Nobunaga cosplay from InuYasha!

Hello mah friends!

A while ago I started a new Throwback Thursday themed blog series on which I'll go through some of my early cosplays. In last Thursday's post I talked about how Byakuya from InuYasha was my debut cosplay and today we'll stay in Feudal Japan and fight youkais. Today's showcased costume is actually one that pretty much no one knows that I've done, hehe...

Ever since I found some really old cosplay WIP photos in the deep dark corners of my laptop I've been wanting to do something with them – like, for example, show them to the world because we all started somewhere. Yes, I totally took progress photos before I even started cosplay blogging. 
This means that, once a week, on Thursdays (because it's called Throwback Thursday for a reason), I will invite you all to experience a 'blast of the past' with me featuring old cosplay photos, WIPs and stories ranging from late 2009 to 2011. Fasten your seatbelts, we're gonna be riding the time machine and you'll get to backtrack into my cosplay history and see some never-published-before photos on this here blog!  
Be warned that this, naturally, means a lot of (potential) embarrassment for me and highly varying photo quality for you. ;) I only had a crummy compact camera back then and didn't even notice if a photo was blurry or not...


Amari Nobunaga. InuYasha.
Holy fuck. This guy. I guess not many people remember him from InuYasha and, well, understandably so – he only appears in one single volume in the manga (early in the beginning) and one episode in the anime and is never to be seen again after that. He was my third cosplay and don't ask me why I decided to cosplay him; it was a spur of the moment combined with being nostalgic, rereading early InuYasha volumes and also wanting to wear my hipster frames to do a cosplay that, likely, no one else has ever done before. :'D
Amari Nobunaga is a really obscure character from a popular series and if anyone remembers him it's probably either because his pet monkey stole Kagome's underwear or that he was the guy in the episode with the toad demon and the princess. Kagome also at first thought that he was the famous Oda Nobunaga but... he's definitely not.
Actually, Amari is a very different character from the usual character archetypes that I cosplay – he's clumsy, kind, naive, idealistic and honorable and, despite being weak in combat he still tries his best to protect those he loves. He's also a comic relief. I can't help but like him – he's hilarious and yet so human. 

I sadly have no memory of when exactly I started working on this cosplay but it must have been around mid to late 2010. I made all three layers of clothing (the undermost white kimono was my Bleach one recycled) and the hakama myself. I skipped making a sword exclusively for him since his sword is so generic that I could just use any katana and call it a day.

Almost done with the violet and the outer kimono.
This was also, just like with Ichigo and Byakuya, done during a time when I didn't either know (or care?) about seam placement regarding kimono accuracy. I knew a fair amount of other pieces of information about kimono construction but I just did my shoulder seams without a second thought and lived my life happily. Needless to say that nowadays it bothers me because it's actually important if one cares about an authentic look. Oh well, we learn from our mistakes.

Ribbons and stuff attached.
All those brown decorations are made of bias tape. Also, regarding those white 'window squares' all of them are appliqued on. I made a base of plastic and then used it as a template to draw and cut out a lot of identical squares. I didn't count them or anything, just went by my own judgement. I sewed them on in the exact same way as I did with Byakuya's haori applique, aka a very wide yet narrow zigzag.
On each square decoration I ironed on some interfacing fabric on the backside so that it wouldn't be wrinkly once sewn on – it made for a really neat appearance.

Close-up image of one of the squares.
The hakama were my first try at making accurate hakama for a cosplay – I had learned from Byakuya's ripping fake hakama and wanted to do it right. Or well, not 100% right because I didn't bother to handsew the whole thing and I didn't follow any specific "authentic measures" or  such, I just went by eye measures. I also happened to find in one of mom's old pattern maps a pattern for some really humongous 80s pants and well, after widening them even more they were good to use for a hakama base.

Hakama in progress.
To make the side openings I just folded the 'corners' in and sewed them in place; I made sure to take in the same amount from both the front and the back so that the slits would match and be equally deep. I sewed straight stitches across the ties to strengthen them.
Of course I sewed on all those squares before I started pleating or doing any sewing.

Close-up. Notice the pins. I had just finished pleating.
After pinning the pleats in place I ironed them; I used steam and water (aka placed a wet rag on top) for them to be crisp and last longer. In case you didn't know hakama have five pleats in the front and two in the back.
I did notice afterwards that I should have made my hakama even wider because in the end the pleats weren't quite as deep as I would have wanted, but it still looked okay when worn so it's not too bad.

Close-up of the back. Finished hakama.
(note: flash photo)
For the koshiita insert I cut out a piece from a plastic candy box, glued craft foam on both sides of it and wrapped the whole shebang in a lot of jesus tape duct tape. I left one side of the koshiita open so that I could insert the... insert. Hurr. :DD I sewed it closed afterwards.

Finished hakama. Front.
(note: flash photo)
Finished hakama. Back.
(note: flash photo)
The ties in the front are notably longer than those on the back
– that's how it's supposed to be. Oh and yeah, the blue fabric that I used is a medium-ish weight cotton. It's actually the same fabric I used for my Team Aqua cosplay. When it comes to Nobunaga's wig I was still dumb – meaning that I had a medium length wig that, of course, couldn't be put up in a high ponytail just like that. So needless to say I did the low ponytail shit that I did with Byakuya as well. Eww. :DD But, unlike with Byakuya, I barely have any cosplay photos of Nobunaga and that's simply because I only ever wore him to Uppcon 2011 and that year was a warm one and, well, three layers of kimonos is equal to being a portable sauna! So yeah, I could only wear this cosplay for a few hours before it got too hot to bear and I really had to go back to the hotel to change out of costume. That said, I have no photos to show of me actually being in costume because since then I haven't touched it... :'(

Recently finished hakama properly folded, for storage.
I still of course want to rewear Nobunaga because hell, I've spent a fair amount of time and effort on this cosplay and it'd be a waste if that short-lived Uppcon debut was to be its only chance to come out of the closet.

Regarding props I already mentioned that I didn't go out of my way to make a generic katana for him... but instead I went out of my way to find a white monkey plush. You have no idea how fucking hard it was to find one! xD I plowed through all local toy stores and whatever other stores carried plush dolls, on several occasions, and luck finally hit me at former Barnens Hus (nowadays Barnens Land). There on the shelf I found what I was looking for – my much needed pet monkey prop!

I found you, Hiyoshimaru! :-DD
It's stupidly cute and just the right size! ;U; I love plush dolls, okay? I could probably pin him to my shoulder the next time I wear Nobunaga out – good thing one of my newer wigs will work just fine for him! I just need to do some minor modifications on the sleeves of the kimono (I've realized they're inaccurate), namely sew the sleeve mouth closed since I had originally left them open, just like on Bleach shinigami kimonos and that's simply because I wasn't sure since the manga references didn't show clearly what his sleeves looked like; I decided to leave them fully open so that I could alter them later, if needed.


So there you have it, my third cosplay and my second InuYasha cosplay even to this day. I still of course plan to do more InuYasha cosplays and Nobunaga will definitely see the light of day again, hopefully in a near future. Nobunaga is one of the most obscure cosplays that I've done, but probably still not the ~most~ obscure one. ;) I just like to give some cosplay love to characters that haven't gotten any instead of doing characters that have been done to death. Not like it's wrong though and I've done some really popular chars myself but hey, sometimes it's fun to enter hipster mode; it's a cool feeling to know that you just might be the only one in the whole world who has done a certain character... hahah.

Current status of this cosplay: Needs some minor modifications.

Stay tuned for next Thursday's episode!

January 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Byakuya cosplay from InuYasha!

Hello everybody!

Last Thursday I started a new Throwback Thursday themed blog series on which I'll go through some of my early cosplays. In case you missed the first post I wrote about my Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach) cosplay I mentioned there that, even though I started making Ichigo first, he actually wasn't the first cosplay that I was seen wearing at a convention – and that cosplay, my debut one, is what today's post will be all about!

Ever since I found some really old cosplay WIP photos in the deep dark corners of my laptop I've been wanting to do something with them – like, for example, show them to the world because we all started somewhere. Yes, I totally took progress photos before I even started cosplay blogging. 
This means that, once a week, on Thursdays (because it's called Throwback Thursday for a reason), I will invite you all to experience a 'blast of the past' with me featuring old cosplay photos, WIPs and stories ranging from late 2009 to 2011. Fasten your seatbelts, we're gonna be riding the time machine and you'll get to backtrack into my cosplay history and see some never-published-before photos on this here blog!  
Be warned that this, naturally, means a lot of (potential) embarrassment for me and highly varying photo quality for you. ;) I only had a crummy compact camera back then and didn't even notice if a photo was blurry or not...


Byakuya. InuYasha.
Byakuya, I did him before it was cool. Or well, it was never really cool to cosplay him (he's a rare character to see done) but what I mean is that I did him way before the Final Act anime came out and when he had only recently shown up in the Finnish release of the InuYasha manga. This means that when I originally did this cosplay, back in mid 2010, I had really limited references to go by and only one or two colored images (manga cover/back), if even that. This means that back then I didn't really know what his lower legs and shoes looked like and thus it's a bit inaccurate; I couldn't even find another Byakuya cosplayer to check how they had done things, lol.

I had started working on Ichigo when I suddenly, around midway, decided on a spur of the moment that I wanted to do an InuYasha cosplay for the upcoming Uppcon in Sweden. Back then Uppcon was Sweden's biggest convention, sadly it doesn't exist anymore – the last one was held in 2012, R.I.P. ;_; But yeah, I'm not sure why exactly I suddenly wanted to start another cosplay project while I had an unfinished one still in the works; the only possible reasoning that I can think of is that the tenth Uppcon (2010) was to be my first big convention (I had only been to Kemi's manga days and possibly one Kitacon before) and I might have wanted to cosplay from my first manga, as if to honor it. Now, InuYasha wasn't technically the first manga that I ever read but it was the first one that I got into and the first one that I started collecting. I own every single volume in Finnish. InuYasha will thus always have a soft spot in my heart.

I'm not even sure if I had any specific reasons for wanting to do Byakuya of all possible characters. The only ones I can think of is that he intrigued me (and he was a new character) and had a pretty design I guess I wanted to be a little hipster as well. I remember that originally I wanted to start with Sesshoumaru and, well, I can only say one thing to my old self – THANK THE HEAVENS THAT I DIDN'T. Sesshoumaru is a really precious character to me and his outfit is quite complicated and, well, I wouId have ruined my husbando had I done him back then. I'm so fucking relieved that I decided on saving him for a later time, heck, even today I feel like I'm still not skilled enough to do him justice... :'D But yeah, Byakuya's not the easiest cosplay to pick either, especially as a cosplay beginner, but thankfully I already knew how to sew and make swords out of wood; I've always been creative with my hands and Byakuya's costume required me to think to figure out some of the problems that it presented once I started working on it. 

I don't remember of I started sewing or making the sword first. I remember that back when I made the sword it hadn't been revealed in the manga yet that, in actuality, Byakuya's sword doesn't even have a blade until he uses it. I couldn't have known this back then and thus I made the sword with an ordinary blade... and not even a katana-style one but more of a western one. Not like it matters anyway because when I cosplayed him I never drew the sword, mostly because it hadn't been revealed yet what it looked like and thus I kept it sheathed at all times, for the sake of accuracy. Good thing I did. xD

Old photo of the finished sword.
Close-up of the handle.
It's made completely out of wood, all self-made. That golden paint that I used on the tsuba sucked elephant dong and I remember that even back then I hated it because it looked fugly and, no matter what one did, it didn't apply neatly. Sadly it was the only gold paint that I found in all the local shops back then and so I had no other choice... >_> 

A recent photo showing the sword in its sheath, all props attached.
I made a gourd for him. The dents are damage it took during Uppcon.
The sheath is made of some kind of thicker fabric, the kind that is water-resistant, has an obvious texture and is synthetic. It's not the best but it's easy to do and it fills its function. Luckily with Byakuya the floppiness, if I took the sword out, wasn't a problem because I didn't have to unsheathe it at the con. I used a violet textile cord to carry the sword over my shoulders.
The brown gourd I made by taking two styrofoam balls, carving out the bottom of one with a knife and then gluing them together. I used some red bias tape as decoration and to hide the attachment spot (and to fasten it to the sheath). The little 'mouth' of the gourd is actually a cork from a wine bottle. x) Recycling for the win!

Regarding the sword I feel a need to mention that it broke into three pieces after Uppcon, thanks to Arlanda airport's (Stockholm) carelessness. I flew to Uppcon with my brother and mom (I was underage and Uppcon was really big) from Kallax aiport, in Luleå, and there they were kind enough to have the aircraft workers personally taking it into the aircraft, to assure that it wouldn't break during transit. Please note that my sword was only stored in a sword-carrying bag and thus would likely have broken if, for example, a heavy suitcase was placed on top of it. Kallax special luggage service was amazing, I can't complain because they went out of their way to make sure that my prop would get to Stockholm intact. The same I can't say about Arlanda, they told me it would be fine at the special luggage counter and then just proceeded to flung it into the same space as all the other passengers (heavy) stuff. I think I might even have paid extra for special treatment. I even saw from the window, later on in the terminal, when they shoved all kinds of luggage into the plane, including trolleys and bigass sport bags... and then I saw my puny sword bag and got a clump in the throat. Back at Kallax when I went to claim my prop from the conveyor-belt I could see already from a distance that it was broken. It was disheartening and frustrating at the same time. I went to complain and the woman I talked to gave me a number and told me to call it and ask for a compensation for a broken hand-made item. I tried calling it later and never got anywhere and yeah, I'm still kinda annoyed by it all because they gave me a number that wasn't even up to date...

I sadly, once again, don't have any progress photos – only pics of the finished product. All of these costume detail photos ahead are recent. For Byakuya I didn't originally take any outfit photos (just like with Ichigo), save for those first two sword photos and the one farther down that shows the fake flower that I got for him.

Byakuya's kimono and haori. Front view.
Back view.
Just like with Ichigo I made Byakuya during the time when I either didn't know everything about accurate kimono construction or, alternatively, didn't think (nor care) that seam placement was that important. *smacks former self* :) Luckily because the haori is so dark in color one doesn't immediately notice that it has shoulder seams –and the yellow applique covers a part of it– and the haori itself, in turn, always covers the light blue kimono's shoulder seams. Phew. Otherwise I might just have been pulling my hairs right now.

I hand-painted the flames with fabric paint.
I'm sorry that the whole outfit (and especially the sleeves) are so wrinkly – this cosplay has been untouched and in storage ever since 2010. I quickly took it out to take these photos before the sun went down. Hello kaamos my old friend ~

Side-ish view of the haori.
As I mentioned above those yellow parts are appliqued on. I originally cut them out as complete wobbly oval-ish shapes with those 'inner lines' but, as I started sewing them on, they started to misalign/shift themselves because of the big size of the applique and the large area that I was sewing them on to. Of course this only started happening once I had already partly sewn on the yellow details and the only thing to do, to keep the original intended placement, was to cut the design into pieces at specific areas, align/replace them and sew them on – this created seams around the design.

Close-up photo of the seams of the yellow design, aka
where I had to cut it to get it to align properly.
Sewing on the yellow shapes to the haori was by far the most tedious and hardest part of the whole costume. It took a really long time and a fair share of patience and carefulness.
On the back of the haori I made a slit, lined it with bias tape for a neat finish and I also added that little ribbon at the top, which sometimes was visible on Byakuya in the manga. A cute little detail.

Showing the back slit and the little ribbon.
(this is a flash photo, hence the color difference)
The kimono and the haori are made of cotton fabric, the yellow parts are perhaps a cotton blend (I'm not sure) and same thing for the wannabe-hakama pants.
Speaking of which, I'm still not sure what the fudge I was thinking when I made these pants. :'D I mean, I did know what hakama looked like (I was practicing kendo for fuck's sake!) but still I decided to not make these in a proper way and instead made them.... hakama inspired. *dun dun duuuun* Just let me cringe for a moment. No but really, I decided to completely skip the side openings and the koshiita. I could have made a more proper tattsuke hakama but no, I didn't. I'm still not sure if it was just pure laziness, a weird expectation that real hakama would be sooooo hard to make or a case of "the sides will never show because of the long haori so I can't be bothered to go the extra mile". I was horrible. :)) So yeah, while these atrocious pants have five pleats in the front and two in the back, just like regular hakama, that's pretty much the only thing they have in common. The ties on these start from the sides and the legs have elastics in them. The sides are sewn close like on regular pants.

My horrible wannabe-hakama. :DD
This is mighty embarrassing to show...
Fun fact is that I think that the Hakama Gods™ saw what I was doing and took revenge on this blasphemy of a creation. You see, during one of the two cons that I wore Byakuya to, can't remember which one, one of the sides on which the ties were attached literally ripped. And no, I don't mean that the seam gave in, I mean that the actual fabric tore next to the seam – most likely because of too much strain. Ouch.
So yeah, the sin punishes itself it seems and, if anything, then that was the ultimate way of showing my older self that if you need to make hakama, make them right or your fake-ass pants will tear.
I can attest that ever since this failure I've never even considered lazying out if I had to sew a hakama. You learn from your mistakes and yada yada.
One iconic thing with Byakuya is that he's almost always holding a flower whenever he appears. A flower that, to my untrained eye, looks like a peony. I could be horribly wrong likely am but whatever the case I found a really suitable fake/plastic flower from a Finnish store called Tiimari back in the days. Tiimari has since then disappeared, which is a shame because it was a good mixed craft/hobby store for cosplayers... although it was expensive at times.

An old photo showing the prop flower.
I have no idea where this flower currently is. What I do know is that I've sold my original Byakuya wig though. It was a black Ivy from the old Cosworx, aka cosplay.com's own wig store. The thing is that the wig was good quality and all but I was a stupid sack of cucumbers who didn't know that you can't just simply by a long wig and expect to be able to pull it up into a high ponytail just like you do with real hair. :) Needless to say that at the con I only managed to keep the wig in a loose low ponytail and I was too scared and clueless to even cut the bangs into the right length.
So yeah, the costume itself might have been impressive but the wig and my face really made it crash and burn. Heck, this was during the times when I strictly refused to wear any kind of makeup, except for powder. *vomits profusely* The truth is that I didn't even know how to use makeup and, even though I could pull the man card, it's not really an excuse because even guys do use makeup for cosplay – everyone is recommended to use makeup for cosplay because it really does one hell of a difference.
You know what makes it even worse? I didn't even know that filling in your eyebrows was a thing and well, just imagine a black wig and my naturally light-colored eyebrows... :) Add to that a makeup-less face and... just no. Fucking no.

I managed to find some old photos of me wearing Byakuya at Uppcon 2010. This was the 10th Uppcon and it was held in Uppsala, Sweden, in a big building called Uppsala Konsert & Kongress. I have really fond memories of the con itself (we had an InuYasha cosplay group!) but I'm so goshdarn ashamed of how bad I was at doing facial expressions for photos and yeah, I just had to censor my face on these two images below as well. Even if I had some really basic posing knowledge I had no idea how to position myself and, especially, not what to do with my face. Half the time I was either staring into the camera or staring away from it in such a way that it looked like I had spaced out into the moon or something. A third variant was an unintended(?) killer glare. It was really that bad. Killer glare was almost like my neutral face for years, no wonder people were afraid to approach me.

Taken outside Uppcon's entrance. I cropped
out my brother.
I used to be proud of that photo above and now, whenever I see the uncensored version, I feel a violent urge to slam my face into a wall. :DD During the 7 years that I've been cosplaying I have, after all, improved quite much and it's really noticeable when I find this kind of old shit and compare them to the new stuff that I do. It's maybe not an astounding lot of improvement in terms of sewing but, even more so, in posing and using makeup.

Only back view photo that I have. Notice
the low ponytail and the props.
I'm not sure how noticeable it is on these two oldie pics but I actually bought high-quality pointy ears for this cosplay. I find it amusing how, back then, I could pay a lot of attention to some small details while I chose to ignore others – especially if I didn't consider them important enough for whatever reason.


So there you go, my debut cosplay. I'm still happy with it in general (except for a few things, lol) and I would definitely rewear it once I have remade the hakama, bought a new wig and fixed some other stuff. I want to have an updated photoshoot with this cosplay because I obviously don't have any presentable photos of it currently, thanks to it being of an embarrassing 2010 model and thus before I realized the importance of makeup. >.< Byakuya will definitely be seen at a future convention!

Current status of this cosplay: In need of repairs/update and a new wig.

Stay tuned for next Thursday's episode!