The word for CostumeCon that comes to mind is different
. This was my first one, after about ten years of going to anime cons.
I was surprised by how small it was, but size wasn't a bad thing either. It was a lot easier to chat with people, particularly when you kept seeing the same people over and over again! It was really refreshing to be able to ask people about craftsmanship and get good, useful answers to those questions. It was really refreshing to see original costumes, AND more importantly, to be surrounded by people who had an appreciation for that. Anime cons have a tendency to get too bogged down into who makes The Perfect (character name here), and that's silly-- it takes away from the fun in costuming.
I wish I had made it to more of the panels, but what I did attend was very informative, very useful/practical. I liked that the panels were more educational, instead of pow-wows to gush about common interests. I really liked that the programming was more relaxed. I didn't feel rushed to be anywhere, and I wasn't having to constantly decide between what to do (if anything) from an overpacked schedule. That break around dinnertime was excellent. The social was a great way to start the weekend, and the hosting hotel had a great layout for that to be possible. I had the best interactions with people just chatting out there and at the bar. People were very friendly and generally approachable, though there were still some clique-ish things going on. Overall though, it was as simple as going up to someone, saying you liked their costume, and asking about how they made something or what material they used, etc.
I've got to say some of my biggest frustrations with anime cons is coping with the crowd and the negative attention-getting behaviors and the sometimes divisive nature involved in costuming. I didn't have that at Costume Con. There was not a moment where I thought "Why did I come here?" There was not a moment where the behavior of other people infringed on my good time. Nobody tried to make anyone else feel like they weren't good enough. Most importantly, those staffing the convention were very welcoming and friendly, and were very encouraging to those of us who were first-timers. They made the effort to mingle with attendees and talk to them when they had the time-- wearing costumes too, and it's really great to see them having fun with everyone else and showing interest in the people they've brought in to the event.
I would definitely go again if it was local (mostly for financial reasons), so I'll probably head out to Jersey in 2011.