There are a lot of anime characers with wings and the question of how to mount your wings is commonly asked. There isn't one right way to do this. Different wings and different costumes are going to have different needs. We'll show you how we've done it in the past and hopefully you can use some of our ideas and adapt them for your costume.
We always build our wings to be detatchable so that we can remove them without taking off the entire costume. This makes them more transportable and easier to put on. It also makes bathroom breaks a possibility. =)
One of the biggest concerns for wings is how much will they weigh because this will greatly affect how you build your support structure.
For lightweight wings, like fairy wings, we use pvc pipes bolted to a plastic plate. Straps are added so the plate fastens on like a backpack. It's rather simple and doesn't need to be super heavy-duty as the wings are very light.
There are small slits cut into the dress so that the wings can be dropped into the pvc tubes. There are notches cut into the side of the pvc tubes with a dremmel so that the wings can be locked into the tubes. This prevents them from swiveling.
For heavier wings, such as our WISH wings, we used a corset mounting mechanism. The smallest of these wings was around 10 pounds, the largers ones were probably around 15. That is actually a lot of weight to be supporting away from your body and it can get pretty miserable by hour 3... just something to remember when you decide you wanna do Gackt's 6-foot wide wings. =)
We'll go into how we made the wings another tutorial. Right now we'll stick to talking about how we attached the wings.
We used a flag bracket and bolted it to a metal plate. The metal plate was just a sheet of metal we bought from Home Depot and cut into smaller pieces. On the back of the metal plate, we glued on a mouse pad to keep the metal from cutting into anything. (Yes... mouse pads! Who'd have thought all those freebie mousepads you were getting could be used for cosplay?!)
We like to build our wing support structures out of pvc because you can get a lot of connector pieces and it's very sturdy. That Y-shape piece in the photo was made completely from pvc parts bought at Home Depot. The wings were built on pvc pipes which connect to the Y-bracket. Then we just drop the whole thing into the flag bracket, and run a cottering pin thru to keep the wings from swiveling.
To attach the flag bracket plate to ourselves, the plate was laid against our backs under a steel boned corset and then the corset was laced, very very tightly, over the plate. The idea of doing it this way is that the weight is now being supported by your hips and not entirely on your shoulders. It also allows you to do bare shoulder-ed costumes.
You'll notice that none of us have bare shoulders... if we had to do it over, we'd add over the shoulder straps to help distribute the weight. It would have been easy to hide; we just didn't think of it.
You'll have to slit open the back of your costume for this method. The nice part though is that other than the flag bracket that sticks out (which can be covered with feathers), no part of the mounting mechanism is visible.
In 2006, we completely re-made our WISH wings and harnesses. We replaced the corset and backplate structure with a backpack setup.
Again, we used pvc to create tubes for the wings to drop into. The pvc tubes were bolted to a plexiglass plate and then straps were added.
(The duct tape in the photo was used to attach the plate to the chair only! We didn't actually duct tape the plates to ourselves.) This harness is designed to be worn like a backpack with the plate sitting outside the costume.
The idea was that having multiple straps would distribute the weight better and save us the time of lacing up a corset. The theory was sound, execution was somewhat lacking. If you're going to have straps that lay against your skin, make sure you use a soft comfortable material that won't rub you raw. We'll be replacing those damn straps next time around...