Cosplay: What is it, and how can I do it?

Parker Bradford, Editor of Community

Cosplay as a practice has essentially been around for as long as there have been fictional characters. Since the first written plays and accounts were made, people have joined together to imitate those within their writings. Now, you see people cosplaying everywhere – in the streets, at conventions, and on stage; anywhere you go you could find people in cosplay. We even celebrate a holiday late in the year which has over time become more and more devoted to cosplay: Halloween. Now that we know how prevalent cosplaying is, let’s dive a little further.

To start, what is cosplay? Well, the term cosplay (which stands for costume play) was coined in 1984 by a Japanese film director named Nobuyuki Takahashi, and Merriam-Webster defines it as “the activity or practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction (such as a comic book, video game, or television show).” Most of the cosplay community accepts this definition, and no matter how well-made the costume is, if it is recognizable, it counts as cosplay.

Sure, it’s easy to define cosplay, but how do you do it? Where do you go? Well, aside from just dressing up and taking to the streets, the latter question is quite simple. There are multiple nearby conventions, from Comic-Con in San Diego to the Anime Expo in Los Angeles where cosplaying is widely accepted and supported.

The short answer to the former question is pretty easy, you get or make a costume to wear, and then you go out to show it off. The long answer has a lot more to it, so let’s break it into pieces.

First, where would you go to find well-made costumes? There are plenty of online stores that are known for good costumes, such as MicCostumes, TrendsinCosplay, and ProCosplay, that all have largely positive reviews from their customers. You could also go on Etsy or Amazon, but for more cosplay-centric websites, you should stick to the previous three, or research others to find one that suits your exact needs.

Of course, that begs the question: where would I go to find materials to make cosplays? Really, anywhere. You can make a costume out of almost anything. A good way to start is to figure out what you want to cosplay as, and then find the materials necessary to make their costume and props. You could research different wig shops, various types of cloth, or whatever materials necessary to create your vision. You can even cosplay as your own original character (OC).

All in all, cosplay is mostly about the cosplayer. If you want to find more stores for costumes, or more materials to make your own, that’s entirely up to you. Dig as deep or as shallow as you need to, and cosplay the way you like. For some people, the fun comes in making their own costumes, but for others, it’s easier to find one online to tweak if necessary. All characters from all fictional worlds and mediums are welcome, even the ones in your head. So if you’re interested in cosplay, you should check out some of the stores or research your own, find a convention near you that piques your interest, and cosplay to your heart’s content!