Tag: Howl’s Moving Castle

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Movies

Know Your Nerds: Kristen’s Top 5 Movies

Welcome back to our Know Your Nerds series! Today, I’m taking a stab at narrowing my favorite movies down to my top 5. Making my choices for this list was no easier than for the first two, and at the same time it was different […]

Cosplay Etiquette

Cosplay Etiquette

As I’ve mentioned before, cosplay is a subcategory of nerdiness in which anything goes…almost. As varied and wondrous as coplay is, there are still some guidelines to keep in mind so that you — and your fellow cosplayers — can get the most out of the […]

Cosplay on a Budget

Cosplay on a Budget

As I mentioned in my last post, the prospect of starting a cosplaying hobby can be intimidating — and often, the biggest reason is cost. Though you can invest as little or as much as you want to into a costume, there’s no denying that, as hobbies go, cosplaying can be a pretty pricey one.

But that doesn’t have to stop you from tackling it! Today, we’ll look at some ways to keep costs down while still enjoying your cosplay experience to the fullest. And since cosplaying on a budget is basically the only type I do, as I have not become rich and famous yet (ha!), hopefully some of the things I’ve picked up on the way will help you in your own costume-making ventures.

1. Start by setting a budget.

This step is crucial, as it helps you figure out what’s feasible. For example, you may be able to set a budget that gives you some wiggle room, but which precludes you from doing something like sewing yourself a Princess Peach ballgown from scratch. Though setting a firm budget does limit you, this can actually be a good thing — with the zillions of characters you could choose to cosplay, this is a great way to make the decision process easier.

2. Decide whether to make or buy each piece

It seems like it should almost always be cheaper to make something yourself than to buy it, right? Well, more often than not these days, that’s not the case.

To get the most bang for your buck in this respect, I suggest taking some time to plan out all of the different pieces you’ll need for your costume. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can decide whether it makes more sense to buy or make each piece. For example, you might be great at sewing and know where to get inexpensive fabric; if so, sewing the garments needed for your costume might be the way to go for you. If not, you’ll likely want to seek out a place you can buy them online.

And let’s face it; some stuff is just easier and less expensive to buy than to fabricate. For example, when I cosplayed as Rocket the Raccoon, I wanted to have a giant fake gun to carry around. I could have built one, but that would’ve required a lot more time and money than I was willing to sacrifice to the cause, so I decided buying a reasonably priced Super Soaker and spray-painting it black was a better bet in that case.


3. Use cheaper materials when you can

On that note — buying items for your costume may work well for some things, but many costumes will include components that just can’t be purchased. Captain America shields may be relatively easy to come by, but Harley Quinn hammers, on the other hand, are not.

When you’re faced with the need to fabricate a costume piece yourself, my advice is to do an internet search for others who have cosplayed as your character of choice — someone almost definitely has, and has likely even written about it — and take a look at how they went about crafting that particular piece. Even if you don’t follow their method exactly, this is usually a good way to get ideas for how you’ll do it yourself.

Fabrication is one aspect of cosplay that will test your creativity (which, obviously, is what makes it so great). But never underestimate what can be done with craft foam, hot glue, and thrifted clothes. If you’re willing to spend some time searching and strategizing, you can find all sorts of ways to create something using materials that won’t break the bank.

4. Know where to get what you need

So you’ve decided on what you’ll need to put this costume together — but where will you find all of it?

This is another place where the internet will come in handy. Places like Etsy are a fantastic resource for special costume items that aren’t readily available. Look for vintage items that could be repurposed as costume pieces, or see if you can find smaller hard-to-find pieces that are reasonably priced — it may take a little extra digging, but with some patience and the right search terms, you can find them.

Other great places include craft stores like Michaels, JoAnn’s and the like. And thrift stores like Savers or Goodwill can often be a gold mine for things that can be bought on the cheap and remade into the perfect costume piece.


5. Simple is best

Finally, one of the main things to keep in mind is that a costume doesn’t have to be complicated or super detailed to be awesome. A stylized or simplified version can cost way less than trying to incorporate every detail of the original, and it can look just as great and be just as much fun to wear. This is another great area to get creative — dream up a modernized version of an Assassin’s Creed character, go as a hipster Disney princess, or imagine what Robin’s street clothes would look like. With a little ingenuity, you’ll find that cosplaying on a budget can be as nuanced, innovative, and enjoyable as the more expensive variety — and often, even more so.

These are just some of the ways to enjoy cosplaying without going broke. What are your favorite tips and tricks for cosplaying on a budget? Share your ideas in the comments!

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