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Making Cosplay Work for You

by August 18, 2012
filed under Life
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There’s nothing like a weekend of getting your nerd on. For me, that was the weekend of Animethon 19. It was a day of hanging with friends, buying awesome stuff from vendors, playing a rambunctious game of Red Rover, and watching anime with a bunch of random people. But the best part is always getting pictures of the cosplayers.

Cosplay — or Costume Play for those of you who’ve never heard of it — is basically the trend of dressing up as a character, usually for a convention. It’s great fun and there are a lot of awesome costumes to choose from, but it can be problematic. I’ve faced a few issues when trying to cosplay, specifically when I try to cosplay female characters. The problems are as follows:

  1. The costume is fairly revealing and I lack the figure to pull it off.
  2. The costume is elaborate and not something I could afford to purchase.
  3. The costume is fairly simple, but also unique and thus would be difficult to purchase from a budget store.
  4. I can’t sew.

Thus, I usually end up cosplaying male characters. It’s not a bad thing, but some days I do wanna be the awesome female leads in anime and video games. If you’ve had this problem, I may have some advice for you that will let you be creative, but keep a budget.

My usual approach for the past few years had been to purchase costume pieces at thrift stores, but it can severely limit your options. You can expand your options by setting aside a budget to hire a seamstress or artisan to make you a piece of your costume. This could be a dress, or a unique vest or a large accessory. Then, you can go through thrift store items and pick out the other pieces. This might not make sense at first, especially since there are websites that will sell whole costumes for about $200 or so, depending on how many pieces a costume has. But these sites tend to mass produce their costumes out of exceptionally cheap material. If you go to a seamstress for a costume piece, it will be high quality and, if it’s not too outrageous, you can probably wear it outside of conventions too.

If that’s not in your budget, another creative approach is to take non-human characters and make them human. This is something you’ll see a lot with Pokemon. By using colour-schemes and certain features, you can make a recognizable character on whatever budget you have. You can get your yellowest outfit together with a homemade tail and ears and some red make-up and be a Pikachu girl. Or you can dress up as a pink Elvis and be Jigglypuff. Humanized characters are great for creative people because no two people will have the same idea of what they should look like.

What I’m doing this year, however, is a gender bent character. This sort of follows the same idea as the humanized character and is equally as popular with fan artists. You take the most noticeable features of a character, and make a costume based on what they may look like as the opposite gender. This can be as simple as using a skirt or dress in lieu of the regular costume, or can involve doing different things with the costume’s style, the hair, or make-up. Just like humanization cosplays, there are many different interpretations of how a character would look if they were the opposite gender. It doesn’t allow for as much creative freedom as the humanized cosplays, as some accessories, costume pieces, and wigs may be required.

Putting together a costume when you have a small budget and no sewing skills can be difficult, but it’s not hopeless. If you’ve got a good imagination, you can even make even the smallest costume budget work for you.

Flurt! note: Cosplai Sensei is a great gurl to check out for future costumes!


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