Geek Chic

Whip Together a Great Cosplay Costume on the Cheap

If you’ve ever dressed up for Halloween you know how much fun it can be to pretend you are someone, or something, else.  Becoming an adult doesn’t necessarily change the joy of pretend.  We just tend to get fewer opportunities to do it.  Fortunately with Renaissance faires, anime conventions, Comic-Con and the like, there are some great venues for grownups to enjoy a little costume play, or cosplay.

Comic-Con International 2011
While we all would like to look exactly like our favorite superhero, anime character or television favorite, most of us don’t have the extra cash lying around to buy full-on costumes, like the guys who wear movie quality Star Wars storm trooper costumes.

But with a little creative thinking, some time and some savvy shopping you can create a costume you can be proud of and wear again.  Some of the simplest costumes are those with normal wardrobe pieces that can be combined to easily represent a well-known TV, comic or movie character.  Some examples are Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory with his crazy t-shirts, Chuck with his black pants, white shirt, and Nerd Herd pocket protector. Throw on a long leather coat, pop in some fangs, and look moody, and you could be Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you can find a photo of the character you can recreate a costume for cosplay.

More complicated costumes just require a bit more time and attention. Superheroes can be recreated pretty easily if you don’t mind wearing a long sleeved spandex sport top and tights form stores like Target or Walmart.  Adapted ski masks, decorated work gloves, everyday belts converted with pouches, etc., and homemade felt or plastic breastplates/shields can be added to complete the look of a favorite superhero.  You can do the same with anime and cartoon characters by making a few trips to local thrift stores with an open mind and a creative eye and then visit the hobby and craft store to embellish with paint, glue and glitter, faux fur, and more. 

Use your imagination and enjoy the process. Don't feel like you have to look EXACTLY like the character you wish to portray, because the fact is that we may be a bit lumpier and maybe not as hot as our favorite superhero or anime character.  The point is to have fun with the whole process and pay homage to a favorite character by creating an outfit and maybe getting into the role of our character and doing a little acting as well. That's what cosplay is all about.

Here are a few examples of costumes I’ve put together on the cheap:

Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show

Witch outfit from Party City $13
Men's dress shirt from thrift store $3
Lace for hat 22 cents
Ribbon for apron on sale at Joanne's $4
Red wig from Party City for $10
Goth girl boots from my closet.

Total Cost - $30.22

I cut the jagged fabric off of the witch costume, took the cuffs from the large men's dress shirt and stitched them to the sleeves of the costume, and used the back of the shirt to cut out an apron.  I used wide ribbon to make the ties and the ruffle around the edge. I also basted lace around a small circle of fabric cut from the dress shirt for a maid’s cap.

Woodland Fairy (all re-wearable)

Party dress from Ross clearance rack $13
Leggings from Target $5
Wings (not shown) from Party City $8
Bolero length sweater from my closet
Elf boots from my closet

Total Cost - $26

This costume was super easy and really cute.  I didn’t have to do anything but put it all on and wear it.

Katniss Everdeen Dicstrict daily wear (all re-wearable)

Brown skinny pants from thrift store $5
Black thermal top from the thrift store $4
Anthropologie belt from the thrift store $10
Satchel from the thrift store $5
Brown leather jacket from the thrift store $9
Tall brown leather boots from my closet
Homemade bow, arrows and quiver (not shown) made from dowels, cardboard and string. $3 + some time

Total Cost - $36

This was another one that was pretty easy and all I had to do was put it on and wear it. I braided my hair on one side the way Katniss did in the movie.

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