If you are a geek and have been around the internet for a while, I think that you might be familiar with the term ‘cosplay’. For those of you who are lost, cosplay means ‘costume play’, where people portray their favorite characters from movies, games, tv shows, comics, etc. Cosplayers usually don’t just walk around every day like that but instead choose conventions of all kinds to show their love and geekery.
If you’re interested in starting up a cosplay of your own, there are a few questions to be asked before you jump right in:
- Who is your character?
- Is their costume complicated?
- Do you want to make the costume from scratch?
- If not, do you want to buy a premade costume?
- Or do you want to commission someone to make a costume fit for you?
- What is your budget?
Choosing a character
Do you want to cosplay Mario? Go ahead! Do you want to feel badass in a Bloodborne cosplay? Do it! Do you want to be a simple Tetris block? Awesome! When it comes to cosplay, imagination knows no limits! No matter your gender, size or age, cosplay is for anyone and everyone to enjoy and have fun.
If this is your first time, pick a few characters to start with. Now look at each one individually, working out the intricate details of their clothes and accessories. Of course your cosplay does not need to be complicated and done to the minute details as the original, but it would be good if your cosplay could be recognized at first sight.
Start from the head and go slowly down all the way to the toes, making note of all the character’s features, most notably the following:
- hair color and style (would you need a wig?)
- face make-up (if you want to cosplay Joker, that is a must 😉 ), scars
- face masks, helmets, hats, eye patches, bandanas, etc.
- elf ears
- earrings, piercings, tattoos
- t-shirts, shirts, coats, jackets, hoodies, armor, bracers
- trousers, shorts, skirts, dresses
- shoes – boots, heels, sandals, platforms
- accessories – guns, bow, quiver with arrows, gun holsters, swords, shields
Now that you have chosen your characters and listed all the items for each one, ask yourself how do you want your cosplay to come to life. Do you feel brave and want to get involved hands-on with it, starting from drafting a pattern and then sewing it? If so, that’s great! You don’t need to be an expert or anything – you will learn as you go. You WILL make mistakes but that’s okay, it’s part of the process. 🙂
If you’re a beginner with sewing and costuming in general, you might want to choose the less complicated outfits, so you can cross out characters which would be too complicated for you. You can also cheat a little and maybe use some clothing that you already own and just alter them.
About a year and half ago I decided to start on a Connor cosplay from Assassin’s Creed 3. My first cosplay is certainly not an easy one to do (the thought of creating the coat from scratch still gives me anxiety) but I want to do it. If not only for the feeling of victory, that I can make anything when I put my mind to it.
At this point you want to see what budget you have and adjust accordingly. Don’t forget to look into thrift shops, sometimes you can find gems for a fraction of the price and then adjust it if needed.
If the DIY route is not for you, nowadays there are a lot of pre-made costumes. They usually range between $90 – $300. Most of these don’t come with shoes though, so you will need to either look for a pair or use ones you already own.
I’d definitely recommend you to read reviews on each costume and if available, see the pictures of (un)happy buyers to give you a clear idea if that is what you want. Be careful when picking the size, definitely look into their size chart and measure yourself multiple times just to make sure.
Some costumes come with accessories such as bracers, swords and bows while some may not, so pay close attention to the description of the product. If there are no accessories, you should be able to purchase them separately.
Pre-made / DIY
You can combine the two options above. Whether it’s purchasing a sword or a part of a costume, this is the way many people go. I chose this option as well, opting to buy pants and accessories rather than making them from scratch.
Custom made cosplay
This is definitely the most expensive option on this list, reaching well into thousands of dollars. Yet at the same time, commissioning a professional to make your cosplay is worth the money for the quality that you receive. Your costume will be tailored just for you. If your budget allows this, then I’d definitely recommend getting in touch with a cosplay creator. Make sure to read reviews and look at their references, maybe even contact them to see if the creator is the right one for your needs.
Whichever option you choose to create your cosplay, the most important thing to bear in mind is that you have fun wearing it.
Let me know down in the comments if you have ever cosplayed and if not, would you like to try it? What character would you bring to life?
Photo of Lara Croft cosplayer © Leonardo Veras @ Flickr