Cosplay 101: Essential tips for getting started with costume play

By ·March 24, 2016 6:38 am

You heard me right, cosplay or costume play to give it it’s full title. The act most perfected as children, (though with less materials or care about realism) and done by us adults who still at some level, love being those children again. At least for me anyway.

Cosplayers are only categorized as such if they have made, crafted or at least modified clothing and/or accessories themselves, not simply bought an ready made outfit such as those for Halloween. Although saying that there generally isn’t a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ way to cosplay, it’s a very personal art afterall.

However I would like to say there is one thing that is abundantly important to me as a cosplayer.

Dress for your size

Okay, okay, hold on there, before any of you freak out: I don’t say this from the platform of those haters who started the whole “No Fatty Cosplayers!” thing. Personally, I believe that there is a special place in all levels of hell for them, but it comes from my own experience as a bigger girl. If you are a bigger person and the character you want to cosplay usually wears a tiny bikini top and leggings you will likely feel awkward, trust me. Cosplay is about confidence and embodying the character you are playing, it’s always going to be difficult to pull off if you are feeling doubtful. Instead, look at some of the alternative versions of your character you want to cosplay.

Every character I know has at least three well known variations that range from pyjama like robes to R+ rated nipple caps and a merkin – so my advice is to choose a variation that you are comfortable with and that you feel good in. Then the haters can bitch all they like but I guarantee there will be more who will commend you for your take on the character.

Crafting Components

The best time to hunt for props and mertials is just after Halloween when everything is heavily discounted. This should be a given but as I am only mildly obsessed with Halloween, I tend to spend every last cent I have on either my actual Halloween costume for the year or the materials for others costumes I’m working on before Halloween is over.

It’s not the outfits I overspend on, it is always the accessories and special effects. I often prefer simple outfits which i can then layer on accessories, make up and special effects to bring my characters to life with.


However until you have some experience under your belt or are expertly skilled in prop making or special effects make up it’s going to be costly doing your first realisti cosplays.

Cosplayers take their craft seriously and tend to find what they are good at early on and hone their skills till they excel at them. This will often lead to multiple people having complimentary skill sets, this opens up the doors for skills swaps. As an example I suck sewing, and your makeup skills are weak. How about you help me getting this pattern right, and I’ll make you look like you’re an actual zombie burn victim?

Set a budget and stick to it!

Or if you’re a frivolous spender like me, have somebody else manage your cosplay budget. If you absolutely need those extra accessories you’ll have to convice the friend managing your budget.

If you don’t need it or can’t afford it now just make a mental note of what is was you wanted and you can acquire it in the future if it’s still useful to you.

Time Management

Seriously. This is a huge point I’m about to make, never ever leave things to the last week. As Murphy’s Law states “Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong” and it will get the best of you every single time. That perfect top and pants you needed for the outfit will either be sold out, wrong colour or will only be in a size 0. That piece of fabric you needed to make wings out of? Its been discontinued and was sold out 10 minutes ago, sorry!

Always remember to plan ahead with the materials you will need for your character and be sure to buy them well in advance of when you actually need them.


Finally, the most important tip I have is find friends in your local cosplay community – yes you have one, you just need to look for them. If not, start your own! Get your friends involved and have fun! There is nothing more enjoyable than doing themed cosplays with your friends and rocking up in style at an event or expo.

Have fun guys! And tell me about your early cosplay fails, I know you have one.

Image Credits: Danni Nyx


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