What Colors and Styles Should I Use?
With the number of Costume Contests that are held under the Atlas statue in Atlas Park, a lot of players want to know what kinds of costumes can win them the most influence in such a contest. Sometimes the prizes for such contests can be measured in millions of influence, which is a staggering amount for new heroes!
Well, I can't really advise you on how to win said contests, because even though I have entered several during my time in CoH, I've never won. Mainly, I get the comment that my costumes are too simple or plain, and that's why I don't win out against more flashy and colorful costumes.
But I'm not torn up about not winning, because if I designed a costume just to win costume contests, it would most likely not fit the vision of the character I have. All of the costumes I design are simple, because that's what my heroes are all about, and that's what I enjoy designing.
This brings me to my point: your costume, whatever you choose for your hero, should be the colors and styles you enjoy, not what someone else told you looks good, or what someone else said wins contests. After all, you are the one that is going to have to look at the back of your hero for hours on end--make it something that makes you keep thinking, "Hey, that costume looks awesome!"
The reason, in my opinion, that you shouldn't try to design for general costume contests is because each judge will have a different opinion of what kind of costume looks good. If I were judging, for instance, I might pass over the sparkly-skin-flashing costume in favor of a simpler costume. Another judge might like technology-flavored looks, and yet another might prefer bright colors as opposed to muted colors. It's nearly impossible to build a "perfect" costume that wins every contest--so build yourself your perfect costume, that fits your idea of your hero and that makes you happy.
One big exception: There are sometimes costume contests that call for specific looks, like a specific comic book hero or movie character, or even TV personality or pop culture icon. (I saw one costume contest one day that was an all-Jessica Alba lineup...it was kinda funny!) These kinds of costume contests stretch your creativity and make designing costumes more fun, so they are definitely a good investment of time and effort. You can chat with other people who have different takes on the same look, and ask them how they designed their costumes, etc.