Cosplay costumes – DOs and DON’Ts

cosplay poison ivy

Looking for fresh ideas for cosplay costumes? A cosplay veteran gives some handy DOs & DON’Ts – along with a mini cosplay gallery and character suggestions.

Every year I try and attend the Movie Comic and Media expo held in my city (London). For the past six years or so I’ve enjoyed it very much. The idea of cosplay is to take a creative approach to looking as much like your favoured charater as you can.

Whether you’re into Final Fantasy cosplay, Vampire Knight cosplay, Bleach cosplay, Itachi cosplay, Gaara cosplay, Naruto cospaly, Akatsuki cosplay, Midna cosplay or indeed aiming to create cosplay costumes for a truly under-the-radar character that no-one’s ever heard of, don’t be afraid to save money, spend time on your costume, get creative and emphasise fun. Having said all that, here are some ideas for how to approach creating cosplay costumes, from the (very personal) point of view of a seasoned veteran of British cosplay conventions.

Cosplay costumes – DOs

Make an extra-special effort to cosplay as something original and you can be sure it will be appreciated by all the other cosplay enthusiasts. For those of you attending a convention in Bleach or Naruto cosplay costumes (which is understandable if it’s your first time cosplaying in public) be aware that there might be a few others sporting the same mass-produced headband. There are plenty of original characters out there for you to cosplay – you just have to watch even more anime and read even more manga to find out what they are. But then, that’s no great hardship!

DIY ethic is a huge plus when sourcing cosplay costumes. Ideally, try to make at least some of the elements of your costume. Seeing someone dressed in elaborate and detailed armour is impressive. Realising that said armour is made entirely from egg cartons and a cornflakes box… even better. A home-made outfit means you can be sure to stand out from the crowd.

Pay attention to the details. Aim to wear cosplay costume from your cosplay wig / hairstyle right down to your little feet. If appropriate, consider cosplay contacts and other cosplay accessories to make your outfit completely immersive. Every time an amazing costume is coupled with converse sneakers, somewhere in the world a kitten dies.

Consider cosplaying as a Western character. Yes, manga and anime characters are lovely, but there are lots of fantastic Western characters to cosplay too.

Cosplay costumes – DON’Ts

If possible (and it can be hard for your first time) try to avoid dressing as a character just because said cosplay costume is either easy or looks cool. Cosplay a character you like or know something about. Cosplaying a character you actually care about leads to good CosplayCon chats and possibly making good friends. Research, people.

Refrain from buying all of the elements for your costume as one big pre-packaged set. The exception for this being those life-size moveable dalek costumes, and those storm trooper costumes, those have to come as a set. Unless you take the egg carton /cornflake packet route. Personally, I’m so impressed when someone shows how much time they took over sourcing bits for their costume rather than how much money they threw at it.

Skintight or revealing costume? Make sure you’re comfortable wearing it and prepare for the possibility of extra attention.

If you wish to cosplay as a sexy character then be aware that most fictional characters have the bodies of super humans… and their costumes are skintight. If you take the ‘sexy cosplay character route’, be aware you may be asked to stop every five minutes for a photo op.

Alternative cosplay costume ideas

Here are some alternative cosplay ideas for women, because I would personally love to see these:

  • Ellen Ripley from the Alien series. Or Cal.
  • Female Rimmer or Kochanski from Red Dwarf (except for the skin tight red costume- fans of the show will know which one I’m talking about).
  • O Ren Ishii or The Bride from Kill Bill.
  • Alice in Resident Evil… for me, her costumes in the second and third films are a good compromise between attractive and functional.
  • Samus from Metroid Prime (I will pay homage to you as a cosplay Goddess if you pull this one off).
  • Integra or Rip Van Winkle from the Hellsing manga comics.
  • Dress up as an original character. This may seem like a cop-out, but you can do whatever you want with the costume and nobody else will be dressed the same as you. Alternately, you could go as a generic character (vampire, zombie etc).

Cosplay beginners: now check out our Mooky cosplay guide. It’ll give you some tips on what cosplay is, sites for cosplay costumes, ideas on how to get creative on your own costume.

Then check out our tips for going to anime conventions and tattoo, alternative, comics or classic sci-fi conventions. Convention goers tend to be a lovely bunch. But if it’s your first time, it’s nice to be prepared!