This is the beginning of beginnings. If you're a cosplay noob or a cosplay veteran, or somewhere in between, you all have to make a choice between 4 basic routes of action:
- Buy a complete costume $$-$$$$
- Buy separate components and assemble a costume $$$
- Carefully commission a custom costume (look! look at all the alliteration!) $$$$$
- MAKE EVERYTHING! MAKE ALL THE THINGS YOURSELF! $-$$$$$$$$$IntoInfinity
The $ scale is kind of completely irrelevant since you can cosplay on any kind of budget and budgets are relative. Different people will choose different routes depending on time and budget, and the desire to manipulate materials. If you have no desire to engage with materials, fabrics, paints, power tools, sometimes chemicals and sometimes blood and tears, your best bet is either option 1, 2, and 3. On the other hand, if you are short on time but have that cash money to spend on quality pieces you may want to scour your favorite retailers and assemble something piece by piece. Or your local thrift shop. That way you retain some creative control over your assembly and it'll still give your costume a uniqueness. OR (and this is the big "or'' that's been causing controversy and uppity turned-up noses) if you want to have complete control of the creative process you will do it all yourself. Yes. Yes you will. No matter the cost. No matter the blood sacrifices. No matter the amount of caffeine you will need to consume to finish the thing. HYPE!
It literally depends on your situation, what you want to accomplish, and for what purpose. There's no stigma *pauses. re-reads and edits* There shouldn't be any stigma attached to any of these options because you know what? They're options and we can choose whatever the fuck we feel like. We are different people with different wants and needs and that's ok.
IT'S ALL OK!
DON"T LET ANYONE TELL YOU OTHERWISE!
So, let's just break down and discuss our four options.
How do you know which route is best for you?
BUY A COSTUME
- NEED: A small to moderate budget. Average for a fabric costume fabricated somewhere in Asia is around 100$ excluding wigs and props.
- WANT: A complete costume. Willing to wait for parcels from China. (Yeah, sometimes that means you have to plan this shit months ahead of time. You hear me? MONTHS! So stop procrastinating on buying that wig, you.)
OK I WANT TO BUY A COSTUME. WHERE CAN I FIND IT?
- There are several websites where you can buy premades. A simple Google search for "buy cosplay" will turn up a ton of sites like these. I have had good experiences with CosplayHouse:
I'M NOT SURE ABOUT SIZING. WHAT DO I DO?
- Word of warning on sizing: Many of these websites are made overseas in Asiatic countries. I have experienced (this is a personal testimony here, if you've had different experiences let your voice be known!) that sizing runs 1-2 sizes on the small side. If purchasing from one of these sites, trust a sizing chart. Make sure to account for any wiggle room if needed (and you usually need it, unless you're planning on getting something skin tight). If there isn't a sizing chart CLOSE THE WINDOW IMMEDIATELY and restart somewhere else. Some sites have a "tailor-made" option, which is worth the extra cost associated with it if there even is one. Oh, be prepared to pay some high shipping prices. Because of this it's also a good idea to just suck it up and pay a few more bucks for insurance & tracking.
CAN I STILL ENTER A COSTUME CONTEST IF I BUY THE COSTUME?
- It is kind of understood that if you purchased a costume, you are not able to enter it in costume contests. Some contests will allow a percentage of the costume to be bought, and purchased things should make up under 50% of the assembled costume. Check with your convention's contest rules and read carefully! The only exception to this rule (at some conventions) is when you are accompanied by the costume-maker, therefore being the model and displaying their worksmanship.
- An exception to this might be in a performance contest, where you are not judged on the costume. Check with the respective con's policies.