Using What You Have
When I first started cosplaying, I didn't have the money to buy pre-made cosplays nor to afford the fabric and other materials to make my own. And wigs? The only ones I had were cheap Halloween wigs, which don't last long and tend to look rather crummy. As such, I had to be creative and make my cosplays out of whatever I had lying around. As I mentioned in my article about my first convention experience, my costumes were both made with clothing and notions I had lying around. Granted, not everybody keeps scraps of fabric, old clothes that are too small or too worn to wear, and random pieces of lace around their house. But if you're a bit of a pack rat like me, you should have no problem. Even if you aren't you can easily find ways of turning your everyday clothes into a cosplay. So, here's part one of this article:
Make a Cosplay with Materials at Hand
You won't get the best costumes this way, but they'll be recognizable. First, pick out several characters with a hair color and style similar to yours. This will save you the grief of dying your hair temporarily or wrangling with a cheap wig. They can be characters you recognize, characters you like, or even characters you don't much care for. As long as you wouldn't be terrible against cosplaying a character, add them to your list. Now, look at the characters costumes. Would you be willing to wear that or a slightly modified, but still recognizable version of it? If no, take that character off of your list. Also keep in mind that some characters have multiple outfits, some more recognizable than others. If you wouldn't cosplay one of the character's outfits, check to see if there's others. Next step, take a look at all of the detailing and pieces of the outfit. Would you be able to simplify the details and still have the outfit be recognizable? Would you be able to make the various pieces of the outfit with what you have? Once you know the answers to these questions, choose an appropriate character and start putting together their outfit. Is the character wearing shorts? You can easily turn an old pair of jeans into shorts by cutting them slightly longer than you want them and either hemming or distressing the edges. Need a tube top or other tight fitting shirt? Cut off the legs from and old pair of stretchy pajama pants and add sleeves, collars, etc. as needed. Just make sure to cut edges longer than you need them if you plan to hem them and cut head/arm holes smaller than you want them to leave room for mistakes.
Make a Cosplay with Clothes you Already Own
For this method you'll want to go through the same process as above for choosing a character, but you'll want to look for a character with clothing that could easily be found in your closet. If you already have school girl clothes in your closet, look for a school girl character. My Misa Amane cosplay consisted of a frilly black dress and jacket I'd bought at a previous date combined with some black tights, heels, a black ribbon worn as a choker, and my customized dog tags. This and my hair and makeup done appropriately were enough to get the character across. I'd also used the same dress and jacket for a Freya (Chobits) cosplay a few years earlier. So go look in your closet. Think of what characters you could cosplay as with what you've got in there and you'll have pieced together a cosplay before you know it.
As I mentioned earlier, I've used there methods in the past. Here's a good example of a cosplay I put together the night before a con with some help from a friend. A few cons previously, my friend had cosplayed Liz Thompson from Soul Eater and I'd decided I wanted to cosplay the same character for this con. I had the pants and shoes, but that was about it. My friend lent me the hat she'd made using a couple of blue folders, glue, an old shirt sleeve, and dental floss. Then came the problem of the shirt. It was a red, sleeveless cropped turtleneck which presented several problems to me. The first was that I didn't really have any red shirts, much less sleeveless turtlenecks. Also, I wasn't especially comfortable with the idea of bare shoulders and midriff. What was I to do? Well, my creative friend pulled out an old pair of red, stretchy pajama pants and suggested the idea of making them into a shirt for me. We cut off one of the legs, made armholes in it and hemmed the bottom, then turned the other leg into sleeves and a undershirt thing so I wouldn't have to worry about anything showing that I didn't want too. I've since gotten a better shirt for this particular cosplay, but the one my friend made worked and got the point across well enough. (My friend's outfit for the con was thrown together last minute as well, but I've cut out details on it's creation for space's sake.)
|My old Liz cosplay shirt and hat|