San Diego Comic-Con is three weeks away. Do you know where your costume is? Believe it or not, you can still put a costume together for the convention and have time to spare. In fact, both of the costumes I’m wearing this year will be put together in July. As in I haven’t even bought any of the pieces for construction yet. I might be an extreme example, but procrastination is common in the cosplay world. You should join us; we won’t judge you on your lateness.
Your cosplay options depend on how much free time you have between now and the convention. It will be more challenging if you have a full-time job but not impossible. I have costume suggestions for both kinds of people. For either option, your first step is to make a list of materials. You have to determine what pieces and supplies you can buy locally at a brick and mortar store and what you need to purchase online. Place your online orders immediately if not sooner. You don’t want to pay rush shipping fees, and it’s good to have a cushion in case you need to make an exchange. If you’re hitting the pavement and shopping at retail locations, go as soon as you can. You might not be able to find every item on your list and you need to leave time to scour the internet and place orders.
Cosplaying on a Limited Schedule
So, you want to join in the costuming fun but your July schedule barely leaves you time to breathe. Nevermind taking bathroom breaks. Here are a couple of suggestions for low stress cosplay:
1. Choose a character who wears regular, everyday clothing.
It’s possible that you can create a costume straight from your closet. Several characters from television series just wear street clothes. The clothes are distinct though, not just outfits. Some examples are Chuck, the companions from Doctor Who, or Willow from Buffy. You can find screenshots or sometimes entire blogs (like this one for Amy Pond’s outfits) with reference photos. Occasionally the clothing brand and type of material will be listed. Since you’re short on time, you can just fly through the mall or department store and choose clothing that is similar. Give up the dream of matching exactly. If you only have a day or two to spend on the costume, it’s not going to happen. The only negative for going this route is that your costume might not be recognized. Try to talk a few friends into doing a last minute cosplay group with you. I just volunteered for one, so you never know.
2. Buy your costume ready made!
If you have a little extra cash, you can buy a costume that’s already finished and ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Act quickly and you’ll have time for alterations. Search for costumes on Etsy, eBay, and even cosplay sites like AC Paradise. Put the call out on Twitter. I found plenty of completed Star Wars and Star Trek costumes in seconds. You can find more if you spend a few hours.
3. Phone a friend.
You might know someone who has a closet of costumes to borrow from.
Cosplaying with Slightly More Time
If you have all the weekends before Comic-Con free, you have six full days to work on your outfit. Just add some evening hours and lots of dedication, and you can make something spectular. You can sew an outfit from a pattern or combine your crafting skills with purchasing costume pieces.
1. It’s all about the details.
When you have the spare hours, you can focus on the details. The seams, the aging, the proportions â€“ getting all of these little things is right is what makes cosplaying fun (at least for me). It also makes the costume immediately recognizable. I like the idea of taking a simple costume and pouring most of your time and effort into making it look just right and creating the props to go with it. Kaylee from Firefly is a perfect example. Her outfit is basic: mechanics coveralls and a bright Chinese shirt. In one scene, she twirls a parasol painted with a specific pattern. You can find the basics online, and then you can make it perfect. Rip out the buttons and replace them with a zipper. Age the coveralls and put on the patches, grease, and symbols to match Kaylee. Find a white parasol and carefully match the paint colors and lines. It sounds tedious, but cosplay can be tedious. Those are some of the best parts.
2. Sew your nights away.
I haven’t learned to sew yet, but it feels like I’m in the minority. If you have these skills, use them to your advantage. Pick a costume that follows an easy to medium pattern and find fabric right away. I don’t recommend choosing a character who carries lots of props. You’ll be too busy sewing to worry about buying or making them. Maybe a Lord of the Rings Elvish outfit, or an anime character, or a superhero? Remember, you can always wear an original design.
Whatever your cosplay skill level, you have time to create a costume before Comic-Con. Seriously. I put together this lady Indiana Jones costume in an evening and received endless compliments. If I can do it, anyone can.