You’ve decided to dive into the crazy world of cosplay. You’ve chosen your character. Now…where do you find the costume?
There’s actually a lot of ways you can sort out the costume. Get your research done first. Go back to the source material, google the hell out of your character and save a whole bunch of images. If you can, find pictures of the back of the costume and close-ups of any details. For example, when I was working on Rogue, I ended up searching for close-ups of her face in the cartoons, to get an idea of the make-up. I’ve also done searches for her hands without the gloves in order to make nail painting decisions. When you’ve done your research, then what?
Buy a Costume
Depending on the character you’ve chosen, you might be able to buy a whole or a partial costume. A lot of cosplayers don’t like to do this, but personally, I don’t think it’s a problem. Depending on your budget, there’s lots of places you can buy costumes from. Amazon occasionally have bits and pieces, and eBay is usually my first port of call. If you want something specific, a lot of cosplayers buy from Cosplay Sky. I can’t vouch for the site as I’ve never bought from them, but a lot of friends have have had great costumes from there. If you’re ever unsure about a site, ask in one of the many cosplay groups on Facebook for people’s experiences. Some cosplayers sell on costumes when they retire a character, so keep your eyes peeled if you love something in particular that is being dropped from a cosplayers costume rotation.
Commission a Costume
You can commission costumes too, if you want something specific. There are a lot of businesses out there, as well as individuals, who make custom items. Again, if you admire someone’s costume and someone made it for them, make a note of who did it. Ask for recommendations. I had part of my Silk Spectre custom made for me, as I couldn’t find anything accurate enough. The yellow dress part was made for me by Stephanie Kyles.
Make a Costume
If you’re clever with a sewing machine, make your own! I can’t sew at all, but if you can, you can get an entirely bespoke, awesome cosplay. Patterns can be tricky, but look around for something similar you can adapt. McCalls have a whole cosplay section, which has some great stuff, including some great replicas of Disney Princesses, historical costumes and patterns designed by Yaya Han. There are a million tutorials on YouTube for just about everything, whether it’s making Worbla chest plates or sewing boot covers. Cosplay Tutorial is a great resource too. They cover everything from sewing to worbla to wig styling.
Raid Your Wardrobe
Obviously, this depends on your character, but chances are, you might already own something that works. My Rogue jacket was already in my wardrobe. My Silk Spectre boots weren’t, but they’ve become part of my normal wear too. Probably not an option if you really need some crazy enormous Space Marine armour though…
Shop the High Street and Charity Shops
On the same vein as above, you’d be surprised what you can find on the High Street. I’ve bought bits of costumes in Primark, and so have most cosplayers I know. Shop around, think about ways you can adapt things, and always keep your cosplay head on. I know cosplayers who have found spot on pieces for costumes in charity shops too, from perfect Star Lord jackets to tenth Doctor suits. Keep your eyes open and who knows what you’ll find.
There are loads of cosplay groups on Facebook, from general ones to ones dedicated to specific conventions and cosplay types (for example I’m in groups like UK Cosplayers, MCM Birmingham Expo, UK X-Men Cosplayers and Tomb Raider Cosplay, to name a few). If you’re not sure where to find, or how to make something, just ask the question in a relevant group. There’s nearly always someone with the answer. On that note, most cosplayers are more than happy to share their secrets. Either on their page or in person at a convention, ask where they got or how they made something.
Hopefully that gets you started on building a cosplay! It really is trial and error and we all learn as we go along. If something doesn’t work, chalk it up to experience and try again.
Send me your cosplay costume tips! Any super awesome sites you think I should be shopping from?