The best thing you can do to make your cosplays cheaper is to pre – load your every day closet with clothes you can use.
Most of these categories you probably already have. They are pieces that you can (and probably do) wear on a regular basis. This can justify spending a little more on these items then you would in other ones
Of course, because they are every day items, you can probably pick them up on sale if you keep an eye out.
These are also the items you should be looking out for at thrift stores. You never know when you could find a great deal on an item that fits you perfectly. I’ll be writing more about thrifting soon.
Every cosplay has some form of footwear, or intentional lack thereof that you have to deal with. Shoes can easily become the most expensive part of a cosplay if you aren’t careful.
For the types of cosplays I do, I use lots of boots. Can you say $$$? But I haven’t had to buy a pair yet.
I love boots. So I started collecting every kind of boot that would fit my wide foot. A friend of mine gave me a pair of over-the-knee brown boots (I used that one for Tauriel). I keep a lookout for crazy boot sales and sometimes I get lucky.
Whatever type of shoes you need, collect every color and style.
Thrift stores are perfect for this. Shoes can be anywhere from $1-10 a pair. You have to be patient, it’s hit or miss, but it’s worth it.
2. Dress Shirt
A lot of cosplays use dress shirts. This one you can find pretty much anywhere. If you pay more than a couple of dollars for a white dress shirt, you need to take a hard look at your life decisions.
Make sure you get one that fits you really well. If it’s too big it will bunch under your costume. If it’s too small it will be uncomfortable (and for those of us who are…”well endowed”) you might pop a few buttons.
Also take fabrics into consideration.
Some fabrics wrinkle worse than others. If the shirt looks wrinkly on the hanger you should probably put it back. No one wants to go to a con looking like you slept in your costume… even though you might have.
Some fabrics are heavier than others. Are you going to be wearing a lot of layers? You probably want a lighter shirt to cut down on heat stroke. Is the white shirt your only layer? You will probably want a thicker shirt for modesty purposes (unless you intentionally want to show things off).
You should also consider sleeve length.
Do most of your costumes require long or short sleeves? Does it matter? If it doesn’t matter I highly recommend short sleeves. Even if it’s cold outside, most cons are warm and the more layers you can cut down the better. If you must wear long sleeves, make sure they fit correctly. If they are too short, you will look dorky. If they are too long they will bunch and be uncomfortable.
Dress shirts are in plentiful, so you can afford to be picky. Don’t hesitate to try a few thrift stores a few different times before selecting the right shirt (or three) for you.
To go along with your dress shirts, you need pants. Again, this greatly depends on the types of characters you like. Male anime characters are often in dress shirt and slacks. So are a lot of modern characters. One of the most popular is Castiel from Supernatural.
You can find great slacks at thrift stores, but it might take a little more looking to find slacks in your size.
Don’t forget to be picky about color.
Slacks can come in 50 shades of grey and 300 shades of black – green. And that doesn’t even go into the 5 million shades of blue. If you are doing a Castiel with a tan trench coat, you do not want a pair of grey/ green pants. I would say, error on the side of solid black or a nice light grey. Do research on the characters you want to use them for.
4. Under layers
Most of my outfits use leggings. My Tauriel costume has a solid black under layer.
Especially if you are not rail thin (hello carbs…) under layers are important. The more you can find them at thrift stores, the cheaper it will be.
Again, search your characters you are interested in playing. What do they wear as under layers? I recommend a solid black and solid nude layers. These can get expensive if you try to buy them brand new.
I left this one for last because it is my favorite. Buying coats brand new is so expensive. And the best part is most people don’t wear their coats out before they donate them.
A lot of characters use coats. The most common is Castiel. You would have a hard time cosplaying that character without the tan trench coat.
Again, last time I will say it in this blog post, study the types of characters you like. Do they tend to wear leather? Trench coats? Pinstripe suits?
Coats can be very very expensive if you buy them new. Even cheap coats are $20+. Once, I got 4 trench coats and a leather jacket for that at a local thrift store.
It’s important your coats fit correctly as well. Don’t buy it if it’s too tight. It will be very uncomfortable and look like you are popping out of it. Make sure the sleeves are long enough. You can always shorten them, but, unless you are intentionally trying to look like a five – year old growing out of their clothes, don’t buy them too short.
So what’s the point?
If you have these 5 basic things in your cosplay closet, you have an unlimited supply of cosplay ideas. Just add a mask, a specific shirt, or a special makeup job and you are good to go. Find your character style and go for it!