Cosplay - How to Choose Your Costume: The Art of Choosing your Second Self

Are you the chosen one that has been prophesied about or should we expect another? What is your name? Where do you come from? …ummm is that a cape or your grand-ma-ma's tea towel? Most of this advice is for new cosplayers, but even for the veterans, choosing your costume can be a daunting decision. There is no set way to choose your next outfit but here are some things to help narrow down your next cosplay.

    1. What are you into right now or your all-time favourite series, book, comic, or movie? 

For me that's a no brainer… all-time comic slash movie character is Batman. By choosing a character that you know, love and care about the character you are more readily able to switch in and out of it's persona. You will be familiar with their quirks, talents and flaws and most importantly their best lines. Always useful when you have to make a dramatic entrance or exit… hasta la vista BABY!

Cosplay The Dark Knight: Batman
Cosplay The Dark Knight: Batman

    2. Do you have what it takes to pull it off? 

It is a great advantage to have some natural resemblance to a character you wish to cosplay. I'm Asian with an athletic build, so while I could get away, perhaps only in my fantasy, with dressing up as Superman, I'd probably do better cosplaying Goku from DragonBallZ or even Ryu from Street Fighter. Resembling your character certainly isn't necessary, but it does help at events if you want to get photographed more. Remember, when you own your character you are more likely to make pull if off.

    3. Which character or design is you? 

I love the charisma of the Dark Knight, his cool gadgets and the car… chicks dig the car. Definitely Christopher Nolan's take on the Caped Crusader would be my alter ego. I wish I was Superman or Wolverine, but they just aren't me.

    4. How much effort are you willing to put into the costume? What's your skill level? 

You can certainly get costumes "off the rack" or order them online. If you do make sure you check the measurements and allow sufficient time for delivery. If you're more advanced you can make your own parts and buy accessories. Making Boba Fett's Mandalorian helmet from scratch may win you kudos, but is it worth the effect. Do you need to commission a wig specialists to achieve Goku's Super Saiyan hair or is a can of hair spray and bleach sufficient?

Cosplay DragonBallZ: Goku - Super Saiyan
Cosplay DragonBallZ: Goku - Super Saiyan

    5. Do you have a budget? 

Make sure you assess the version of the costume of your character. Cosplay is fun, but not always cheap, but you don't have to smash the piggy bank to look great! A basic "off the rack" polyester Spider-man may set you back $50, but if you want a custom fitted spandex outfit with prosthetic muscles and bulges in all the right places you may need to spend quite a lot more. Having said that if you spend money on a pricey but high-quality costume it should last you several outings but you must take care of it. One tip is to avoid too many lightsabre duals, but also ensure you have room in your wardrobe, to avoid tangling or creases and ensure that you can store the parts so they don't get crushed. An indirect cost to be aware of, when creating your own costume, is buying tools, equipment or apparatus to create the parts. If you don't have a sewing machine, buying a decent machine can set you back several hundred dollars. Other items may include spray gun, quality fabric cutting scissors, clothes iron etc.

Cosplay Go! Goggi
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    6. Do you have a deadline? 

Then plan ahead! If you have a short buzz cut head of hair like me, it make take several months to grow a decent length of hair to cosplay John Wick. Not to mention I having to time my "five o'clock shadow" to be on queue on convention day. Bigger costume projects can take weeks or months to get right. If there are parts that are complicated or overly intricate allow some buffer time just in case of a wardrobe malfunction. Even buying "off the rack" you may run into hurdles, the store may be out of stock of a particular part so delivery may take some days or weeks. Likewise if you are ordering online, delivery times may be pushed out if it gets held up in customs, especially if are ordering items that are deemed as weapons.

    7. Would you feel comfortable wearing the costume? 

To pull off a brilliant cosplay you need to love everything about your alter ego. Don't be in a costume that makes you uncomfortable. It doesn't matter whether you are a super-model or a plus-size lady, if you're not comfortable wearing a skimpy Sailor Moon uniform and making silly love heart eyes, you're not going to do your character justice.  If you don't like the amount of skin a character shows, alter the costume to suit your needs or select another character. Similarly, if you're like me and only 5'7", you're not going to invoke a whole lot of fear dressing up as a Wookie, but if you're happy to get comments like "oh that a cute little Wookie…" or "aren't you a little short for a Wookie?" then go for it! Something I need to emphasise is do not attempt to lose or gain large amounts of weight just for the cosplay. Whether you are plus size or you've lost weight and looking buff, your costume should celebrate who you are and your body shape. If you are trying to achieve a particular size or weight for cosplay, set realistic goals and try to meet them over time. Consult your doctor before you attempt drastic changes to your weight or body shape.

Cosplay Wonder Woman
Cosplay Wonder Woman

Remember don't lose sight of why you're cosplaying. The whole purpose of cosplay is about having fun, making costumes and dressing up… and, for a brief time, be child-like, escape reality and become larger than life.

About the Author: TuiSiong Hie

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