Justice League of WNY

Costume Guidelines

The Justice League of WNY embraces costumes from numerous sources. In order to help capture the magic of the characters we portray our goal will always be to accurately portray these costumes and the characters within. However, we also recognize that this is a hobby centering on and around fun and creativity. Therefore the Justice League of WNY makes allowances for the creative modification of these costumes within the confines of decency (defined as being without profane or vulgar features or statements and must be viewable by young children). Aren’t sure if your costume idea is a good fit? Send as a reference photo and we can help guide you through.

A. Basic Rules

  1. Bulky Costumes. Members with bulky costumes, costumes that obscure the vision, or costumes with large extensions such as wings or spikes, should have a designated “handler,” to assist them through the hallways and crowds.
  2. Wheels. Functioning wheels cannot be used as part of a costume or prop (i.e. anything that you might ride, push, or pull). We love your creativity, but please save the wheeled costumes/props for your photoshoots.
  3. Hair/Tattoos/Piercings. All costumers should strive for a close resemblance to the character’s hair shape and color, facial hair or lack thereof, as well as any body decorations the character may have, such as tattoos and piercings.
    1. For hair color, unless exact color is required by the standard, all natural hair colors are accepted.
    2. If the character does not have tattoos, piercings etc. then the costumer should cover up/remove any tattoos, piercings etc. they may have when wearing the costume if reasonably possible.
    3. For characters with tattoos or other make up designs, please use a high quality stage makeup.
  4. No Race-Bending. While we recognize that cosplayers seek to be as accurate as possible in their cosplay, the concept of using makeup to change ones race is one of the most controversial topics in modern cosplay. As such we must prohibit it within our group.
  5. Gender-Bending. While almost as controversial as race-bending, it may be allowed on a case-by-case basis, provided the cosplay is well done, respectful and complies with all other rules and guidelines.
  6. Hate Symbols. We do not accept costumes with recognized hate symbols. Even for satirical and parody. Examples include KKK, Nazi, and old school Hydra & Red Skull.
  7. Realistic Uniforms. No costumes may be realistic depictions of American law enforcement, current American military uniforms, first responders, emergency medical personnel, or any official government agent. “Vintage,” historical, any non-current uniforms, and any military or police-style costumes may be addressed at the Steering Board’s discretion (i.e., Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, etc.)
  8. Bare Feet. No Bare Feet. Shoes are required at all times. Cosplaying a character that’s barefoot? Please check out this tutorial on how to make “invisible shoes.”
  9. Nudity, Exposure and discretion.
    1. No Nudity. “No Costume is No Costume.”
    2. Proper undergarments are required under skirts, dresses and kilts.
    3. Costumes and clothing should not expose the body in such a way as to be deemed indecent exposure.
    4. Private parts must be covered in an opaque material that will not slip or have gaps.
    5. Males wearing tight-fitting costumes are required to wear a dance belt.
  10. Costume must be clean, and in good condition & repair.
  11. Costumes must remain intact at events. “Shedding” of leaves, moss, feathers, scales, etc. is not acceptable.
  12. No costumes that use real animal bones.
  13. No pyrotechnics, smoke, fog, sparks, fire, gels, goos, drippy fluids, sprays and so forth.
  14. No live animals. Your Medusa cosplay may rock, but please leave the snakes at home.
  15. No loud sound effects. Please keep your audio to a normal level.
  16. No glass. (Eye-ware is an exception, but please no glass armor or swords.)
  17. Wigs should be clean and in good repair.

B. Costuming Standards

To accommodate both our members desires to indulge their creativity, and the need for the characters we portray to be recognizable, we are seeking to be “Fan Accurate” rather than “Screen Accurate”.

    • Fan Accurate” means that a fan of the show who is familiar with your character will recognize you and can ‘believe’ you are them.
    • Screen Accurate” means being as close to exact as possible for a screen shown or otherwise ‘canon’ look.

An official Justice League of WNY Event is defined as a gathering of one or more active Justice League of WNY members with a specific goal (i.e. fundraising, promotion, awareness) that does not adversely affect the intellectual property of the source studio or brand, where the members have identified themselves as representatives of the Justice League of WNY. Different events may call for different standards. For this reason, two categories exist to help members recognize what standards are in place for an event, whether hosted by or attended by members of the Justice League of WNY. These categories are “formal/canon” and “informal/non-canon.”


Formal, or Canon, costumes are accurate, authentic-looking costumes from the movies or licensed media (games, books, etc.) where members must have established a specific source of reference for their costume (i.e. “Joker from the Dark Knight, Captain Marvel from Kingdom Come, Neal Adams version of Batman, Wonder Woman from the 1960s cartoon, etc.). Costumes must be devoid of stickers, ornamentation, or any decoration not found on the original costume. Costumes must be complete, containing all parts in good working order and appearance (unless it is supposed to be worn or deteriorated). If a member has a question on whether a costume meets these criteria, they should refer to the source creators websites for the costume or contact a member of the Steering Board. Formal/canon events include any event involving a particular genre, series, or such, and events where formal presentation is expressly asked for, expected, or required. Formal events must be attended by only one of each “face character” (i.e. only one Batman in any incarnation may attend, but there may be 20 people as dressed as “henchmen.”).


Costumes may be authentic, canon costumes or non-authentic, non-canon costumes never seen in any licensed media, and may be decorated and ornamented as the owner desires (again, within the confines of decency as previously defined). Costumes can be painted alternate color schemes, adorned with stickers or cosmetic changes, or supplemented with articles not found in licensed media. Informal events include public parties or conventions or wherever members of the Justice League of WNY are not officially representing the club.


  • The default for any public appearance of the Justice League of WNY is informal/non-canon.
  • The Justice League of WNY code of conduct applies at ALL events, formal or informal.
  • Events must be designated formal/canon for those standards to apply.
  • The final decision on the applicable costuming standard for a given event is left to the Steering Board for Justice League of WNY events, with full consideration being given to the event organizer.

(Ideas borrowed from several sources including Justice League of Arizona, 501st Legion, Anime-Expo, and other fandom sources)

Justice League of WNY, Costume Guidelines, Version 1
Adopted 08/12/2018


Amendment 1 – Costume Review and Approval

All costumes worn by members to official events must meet our guidelines. We are looking to maintain a consistent level of professionalism for our members and their costumes & props. To ensure this, we require that they be submitted for review and approval before wearing a costume to group sanctioned events.

The process isn’t complicated. We need several photos of you in the costume, a few reference images, and some information on your character and intended usage (con, event, etc). Submission is easily done online through our costume submission page. Our steering board will review it, and if it meets our guidelines it will be approved and added to your profile. In the event that it is rejected, you will be given constructive suggestions on what is needed to bring it up to approvable standards.

Regardless of being Formal/Canon or Informal/Non-Canon, members are not to wear non-approved costumes to sanctioned events or events where they are appearing as part of the group. Members wearing unapproved costumes or those in poor condition or ill repair may find themselves asked to change or be sent home.

Adopted December 18, 2018