How to cosplay as a Shinsengumi

So yes, this August, we declare our love for all things starting with an 'S': Singapore, safety pins, sand castles, schadenfreude, shy boys, silky shampoo, stir-fried kway teow, strawberry sorbet, squabbles with siblings... and of course, samurais. Just for you lovely fans, we trooped down to Singapore's largest cosplay chain, Otaku House, and got the equally lovely folks there to show us how to dress up as a Shinsengumi (a.k.a. samurai corps) with minimal time, skill and fuss in five easy steps!

Before: Jerrome Tan, 22, NSman
After: Shinsengumi from Hakuōki

1. Get clothed

*Cheat mode disclaimer* Otaku House basically has a readymade Hakuōki Shinsengumi uniform off the racks, so we went with that. While the price is quite steep at $169, it's a steal for those of us who can't handle needles and thread. If you're the crafty sort though, why not sew your own white kimono, blue haori (overcoat) and black hakama (pants)?

2. Tell your left from your right

Be careful to tie your kimono left over right! Tying your kimono right over left is exclusively for the dead!

3. Great hair changes everything

Those of us who already have long, silky, flowy tresses - preferably in an exotic colour like blue - can skip this step. Otherwise, getting your hair right can be a deal-breaker in your makeover... just look at Jerrome!

4. Straw, not sneakers

Fact: Samurais wear waraji, or sandals made from straw grass. Pair these with a pair of snug tabi, or split-toed socks.

5. Take up arms and exude your character's er... character

No self-respecting samurai leaves his house without his sword. The katana is a perennial favourite. Disclaimer: for the purpose of this story, we used a sword from Naruto as the store only stocks anime replicas.

Now that everything is in place, pose!

Trivia: the word at the back of the haori is "makato" or "sincerity". Essentially it is a pictogram and can be broken up in two parts: "speak" on the left, and "become" on the right. How mind-boggling!

Special thanks to Otaku House @ Plaza Singapura #07-138 for assisting with the above feature. We also hear the Cosplay Idol 2011's coming right up - registration has closed, but you can follow the competition at their Facebook page!