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How To Start Cosplaying: A Guide in 8 Steps

November 16, 2022 6 min read

As you may already know, cosplay is a short term for costume play, or the act of dressing up as a favorite book, movie, anime, comic, or game-related character.

Rooted in Japanese anime and comic book culture, cosplay entertainment activities are now officially a trend way beyond their region of origin. Popular events such as the World Cosplay Summit, AnimeJapan, Animangapop, or Comic-Con gather thousands of enthusiasts every year, and private cosplay parties are also not too exotic anymore.

If you’re a beginner in cosplaying, you will reasonably wonder where to begin and how to proceed. Indeed, sexy cosplay outfits are essential, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot to do before and after dressing up in order to keep up the vibe, and the step-by-step guide below will help you feel confident in your transformation journey.

So, here’s a plan to follow.

#1 Do a Bit of Reading

Cosplay events are all about preparation, and proper preparation always begins with theory. Adapting your mindset will be crucial for your overall experience, so it would help if you did your research about cosplay history and culture above all.

There’s no need to write a master thesis on cosplaying, but browsing through online resources such as wiki articles, past event reviews, and personal experiences by others will do the trick. It will take an afternoon, and it will be a bulletproof strategy for enjoying the journey.

#2 Find a Convention You’d Like to Visit and Plan in Advance

Once you’re done reading, and you’re sure you’d like to proceed, you’ll need to choose a cosplay event near you. Knowing details about the particular convention will help you prepare an on-site action plan with stages, competitions, and interactive activities.

So, here is how to entertain the idea of your first comic-con:

  • Dig for like-minded people to share the experience with. Wearing COS clothing can prove inconvenient without company, so make sure you gather your crew and take care of each other.
  • Book your ticket in advance. Some cosplay events sell out days after ticket sales begin, so hesitation will not be your friend if you really want to join the party.
  • Fix a budget and stick to it. It’s easy to get carried away in detail, and cosplay details can get pretty expensive. Planning your expenses prior to preparation is a must, especially if you don’t want to unintentionally get broke.

Last but not least, find out details about the event location and plan your trip there. This includes bus or plane tickets, along with a hotel room if you’re going too far away from home.

#3 Pick a Favorite Character 

sexy cosplay costume for women jinx league of legends
@nic_the_pixie Wearing Pink & Black Gemini Co-Ord Set

This is where things get real. The pleasure of depicting your favorite character is the hottest spice in cosplay, so make sure you base your choice on your personal preferences, inclinations, and passions. Then, do it for yourself, make it matter, and dive head down into the thrill of transformation - just the way you imagine it.

Once you fix the character, inspiration time begins. Browse through the internet and social media, find some ideas and decide on your approach to the costume. Because the costume… Oh, the costume makes all the difference.

#4 Choose Your Outfit

cosplay alien costume cyber outfit for women@cyborgyukky Wearing Steel Babe Cosplay Costume

It’s easy to slip into perfectionism when your favorite character is involved, but don’t fall into that trap. Everyone starts small, and if you’re a beginner at cosplay, don’t set the bar too high. Experienced cosplayers can spend months (and a little fortune) to outfit, but it doesn’t mean you shall go from zero to top in just a couple of weeks.

Or else said - the healthiest approach for beginner cosplayers is to start small and keep growing.

The Fast, Cheap, Good Rule for Cosplay Outfitting

When it comes to buying a costume, there is a simple philosophy you can follow. Think of it as the “Fast, Cheap, Good” rule - where you can only choose two of the options at once.

If you are looking for something Fast and Cheap, you can go for mass-produced, ready-made options from fashion, carnival, or even thrift shops.

If you choose to go Cheap and Good, you shall either be a genius handmade artist or look for second-hand costumes for sale or rent. Renting a cosplay costume is increasingly popular these days, as long as you find something that matches your taste.

Finally, the Fast and Good scenario requires some extra cash. If you’re on an unlimited budget, a brief web search will surely take you places.

Combining Fast, Cheap, and Good is a pro game, but here is a hint - cosplayers and ravers have a lot in common. And a sexy costume is number one on the list.

#5 Gather All the Accessories & Props

Once you have the basis of the outfit, you’ll have to go through accessorizing and rounding out the final look. This phase heavily depends on the character you choose and the level of accuracy you’d like to achieve. A brief list of props to consider may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Character-specific props such as weapon replicas or tools;
  • Helmets, shields, and badges;
  • Makeup and wigs;
  • Accessories such as hair clips, jewelry, or body art;
  • Colored contact lenses;
  • Fake blood, fake teeth, etc.

There is no simple one-fits-all formula for accessorizing, so follow your concept and let your imagination play!

#6 Plan Your Trip to the Venue

A frequently made mistake when preparing for a cosplay convention is to skip the logistic planning. Now imagine you’re a full-size Hulk riding the subway in a peak hour or a hyperrealistic Shinigami casually strolling by the kindergarten. Not very cool, right?

So, there are basically two options to consider in order to ensure your own comfort and the comfort of everyone around you. The first one is to provide a private ride to the venue - with your own vehicle or a suitable paid mobility service. The second one is to bring your costume and accessories to the venue and change on-site.

#7 Know and Mind the Cosplay Code

Before you pass the gate between worlds, you have yet another super important task: make sure you’re well aware of cosplay etiquette. There might be some event- or venue-specific details listed on the organizer’s website, but there are also some fundamental rules that rarely change:

  • Don’t touch without consent. Cosplay outfits can surely be rather revealing in some characters. It doesn’t mean the cosplayer is inviting you to get intimate. It means they’re enjoying themselves and expect your full respect when approaching them.
  • Ask before you take photos. It’s easy to assume that spending time and money on outfitting gets pleasingly rewarded by tons of appreciation and photo sessions. Generally, that assumption will be accurate. But then, you simply cannot rely on a bare assumption. Everyone has a story, so ask before you take or upload that photo.
  • Behave respectfully and draw boundaries. It’s a two-way street, so make sure you treat others with respect and require them to do the same. If you feel uncomfortable with someone’s behavior, state it clearly and immediately. If you’re the one causing discomfort, step back and rethink your manners.

A curious little detail about cosplay events is the “feeding” appreciation practice. So, if someone approaches you with a candy, a lollipop, or a chocolate bar - that means they appreciate your character and your depiction of it. It’s a sign of affirmation, so you can gladly take and eat it, as long as it comes packed in the original manufacturer’s wrapping.

#8 Just Do It For Yourself

If you’re a beginner at cosplay culture, you’ll probably be mind-blown by the level of detail some fellow event participants did manage to achieve. However, not standing out shouldn’t be a drawback for you and your experience because the only person you need to impress is yourself.

Instead of constantly comparing yourself to others, try to dive into the atmosphere and make some precious memories - because cosplay is the art of transcending worlds, and it lasts way too short to get distracted!