I hadn't previously done Masquerades because my outfits were always assembled from components, rarely stitched or sewn, and never seemed anything like the things that got awards at Masquerades. In the 80s and early 90s my costumes were usually Borg-ish, wearing goth clothing and integrating circuitry into the clothes and my skin. I didn't do any/much costuming in the last part of the 90s. Last year I started doing costumes for races which I felt were under-represented at the Cons - Delvians, Nibari, Atevi, etc. And a quick-change Jayne outfit for fun.
So why don't I bother with Masquerades?
# Because my costumes have always been 10% effort, and 90% attention to detail. My Jayne is better than anyone else's Jayne because I aimed for Exactly Right instead of Good Enough.
# Because I don't (with the exception of Jayne) go for specific characters, I instead try to do a member of a race, or a type, or a cast, or a class...
# Historically, I haven't thought much about performances. Dancing cutely across the stage is nice. Trying to recreate scenes from the movie has always made me think less of the costumers, not more. * see comments below
My costumes last year were Jayne, a Delvian and an Atevi assassin guild member (both generic and unspecific although if you knew the Atevi regions the yellow-red ribbons in my hair would identify that) I got hall awards for all of them except Jayne (probably due to overbombing of that character in costumes) and many, many suggestions that I do the masquerade, especially from kproche and bovil.
Well, on Saturday morning someone mentioned to me that the Masquerade was seriously short - 12 total entries so far, and they usually had triple that by now. So just for fun, I decided to join this year and fill in the gap left by CostumeCon. My costume this year was a member of the Tashrid (Atevi Parliment)
Did I expect to win? No. And I didn't even get a nod, which was to be expected.
Workmanship: First of all, I "found" my costumes much more than created them. The fact that it took more than 40 hours of just scouring the book enough to get a description strong enough to build a costume from doesn't really count as Workmanship, and the attention to detail in regards that the leather trenchcoat was both exactly as described in the books, and modified to support the body armor protecting the wearer, aren't that either.
Performance Awards: I did one of the best performances of my life, but unfortunately there's no way for a judge to know that. Atevi are by nature stoic. Court atevi will kill people over facial ticks. Anyone that knows me recognizes my flamboyant, arm-waving, lightning-grin style. If you compare that to the respectful and assertive but not aggressive (as defined by the books) walk I used, the exact pronounciation of my address in native Atevi, my respectful but with slight disregard bow to the judges followed by my proper abeyance for the masses (I am a Lord, remember?) you would know that I did a very clean and demanding performance.
More than a dozen people who both knew me well *AND* knew that I was wearing an Atevi outfit for the masquerade did not recognize me.
However, to the judges it probably just looked like I was bored or scared stiff.
So nothing for me, and I'm okay with that. I was totally outclassed by people who had built their costumes from scratch, or were something that the judges could recognize.