As soon as Katsucon takes place, that’s when I know con season is officially upon us. I’m usually the insane person who’s sewing, styling wigs, and shaping armor up to the morning I leave for a convention, but I’ve also had experience with simply purchasing elements in order to save myself some time (and potentially, money). Even when I have plenty of time, I always love a bargain, because let’s face it – cosplay is expensive!
Anyway, when you’ve got a month or less to go, the last thing you want to do is live at your sewing machine and practically pay rent at the fabric store. Or maybe you’ve never cosplayed before and you want some elements to be easier. All of these resources are helpful for veteran or novice cosplayers, and I think they’ll help whether you’re crafting the entire thing yourself or need a leg up with certain items.
So I present a (non-exhaustive) list of things I’ve found helpful for getting a cosplay ready on the quick, easy, and relatively cheap.
Thrift stores and consignment stores.
Best for: Base pieces that you intend to modify in some way, like shortening a skirt or top; accessories like belts, jewelry, gloves; simple pieces, like undershirts, especially if they’re going to be obstructed in some way by something like armor. Consignment stores often carry inexpensive pieces in excellent condition if you’re looking for formal attire for, say, a costume masquerade at the con.
Not for: Complex modifications, unless you enjoy seam ripping an entire garment in order to reconstruct it, in which case, you are my (masochistic) hero.
How I’ve used this resource myself: A button-up, capris, and holsters for a Sherry Birkin cosplay. Belts and belt buckles for my Pacific Rim cosplay, and jewelry for the same cosplay. A tank and shorts that turned into a friend’s Misty cosplay. An off-shoulder top and black leggings to go underneath armor.
Costume retailers or joke shops.
Best for: Props that you don’t have the time or experience to craft yourself; basic props, like toy guns* that need little modification; gloves, stockings, and bodysuits; masks for the masquerade ball. Depending on the retailer, you may also find wigs, Spirit Gum or other adhesives, and prosthetics.
Not for: Depending on the retailer, wigs. Some costume suppliers are great and sell good quality wigs, while others only sell the sort of thing you usually think of when you think “Halloween.” Try to find a heat-resistant wig, especially if it’s not pre-styled and you need to style and spruce it up quickly.
How I’ve used this resource myself: Wig styling tools like brushes and shampoo. Pointed ear prosthetics. Fake cigarettes. Tights and bodysuits to wear under armor (or under my Taokaka dress). Also, you can purchase Spirit Gum and remover for helping anchor heavy wigs or accessories! Both costume shops in my town closed, so I rely on online costume retailers, especially if their sales or coupons are timely.
* Important note: make sure you read your con’s policy on props and weapons before you bring a toy gun into the convention space. Many cons have strict policies regarding these, as security can easily mistake a well-made replica for the real deal. If you’re not sure, ask an official. And even though it’s tempting to do so for accuracy, do not remove the orange cap that indicates the gun is fake. Even if the con doesn’t find it offensive, you never know when someone on the street could be alarmed. I got a ton of weird looks walking around downtown San Jose in a Resident Evil 6 cosplay, and it was definitely because of the toy guns I had strapped all over me.
You can find Talyn’s cosplay on Facebook, where she goes by Irvy Cosplay. When she isn’t stressing over costumes, she’s de-stressing through reading or video games…which leads to more cosplay.