Cosplay ideas, tips and tricks

Cosplay ideas, tips and tricks

Are you thinking of making your first cosplay costume, or are you an experienced cosplayer looking for some tips to make your next costume your best one yet? At Spotlight our range of fabrics, haberdashery, costume accessories and crafts contains everything you need to make a fantastic cosplay costume that you'll be proud to wear.

Whether it's for a convention, fancy dress party or special event, you can find the perfect cosplay outfit and accessories here at Spotlight! Read on to find out what you need for cosplay, as well as cosplay costume ideas, tips and tricks.

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What is cosplay?

If you're new to the world of cosplay, here's a handy rundown. Cosplay (a mash-up of the words 'costume' and 'play') involves dressing up as a character, place or even something as vague as a 'theme' from a popular franchise. Movies, TV shows, plays, books and games are all represented in cosplay to great effect - if you're a fan of a piece of media, chances are someone has cosplayed from it!

What sets cosplay apart from a simple dress up or Halloween costume is the strong embodiment of character many cosplayers possess - they not only dress up as a character, but will often behave like them too, and spend a great deal of time and effort creating their cosplay costume. Cosplayers often admire the characters they choose to create, and enjoy stepping into their shoes and being one of their favourite characters for a day.

What do I need to make cosplay at home?

If you have some cosplay ideas and are thinking of making your own cosplay costume at home, you will need to carefully inspect the character you wish to be and decide on what materials you will need to create their outfit. Here are some basics you'll need to get started:

  • Sewing machine - if you are committing to creating an entire outfit, hand-sewing will take a very long time and probably leave you feeling sore and tired after every session! For a professional finish and faster work time, a quality sewing machine is a must-have, as it will let you create all kinds of clothing for a fraction of the time it would take to hand sew them. Sewing machines aren't too hard to learn how to use and are a great investment if you plan on making many outfits.
  • Fabric & materials - when choosing a fabric for your cosplay costume, try to lean towards natural materials like linen and cotton. These are breathable and light, making them comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Many cosplay costumes are layered and detailed, so you want to do everything you can to stay cool and comfortable while wearing your costume!
  • Hot glue gun - if you have a lot of accessories to attach to your costume, a hot glue gun may quickly become your new best friend. It can be used to reliably bond paper, card, leather, fabric, foam and wood on your costume, and is also great for making repairs. Hot glue can leave behind small strings of adhesive as it's used, so be sure to remove them from your costume as they dry. Hot glue can also dissipate when your costume is washed, so keep in mind what has been glued and what hasn't when cleaning your costume!
  • Makeup/body paint - a clever application of makeup goes a long way towards transforming yourself into your chosen character, especially if that character has an unusual skin tone like blue or green. If using makeup, be sure to set your makeup with setting powder or spray so it stays on and won't flake off onto your costume (or anyone else!)
  • Wig/hair spray - our favourite characters can have some pretty crazy hairstyles, and wrangling your own hair into shape can take a lot of hair ties, pins and hairspray. A wig can make things a lot easier, plus they can be styled in different ways depending on your needs. It also eliminates the need to dye your hair, which can be an expensive, messy and time-consuming process, particularly if you are trying to lighten your hair!
  • Dressmaker's mannequin - if the clothes you are making for your cosplay costume need to be fitted, consider finding a mannequin that is either your size or has adjustable features. It will allow you to easily edit your outfit without accidentally pinning or cutting yourself, and you will be able to take a step back and take in your outfit to check its composition.

There are, of course, so many more things you might need for your cosplay. Special shoes, props, contact lenses and EVA foam are all important parts of many cosplayer's kits, but whether or not you need them will depend entirely on your costume.

Handy accessories to have on hand in case of emergency

No matter how well you make your costume, accidents can always happen. If you're cosplaying away from home it's always a good idea to carry a small emergency kit with you full of cosplay-saving necessities. When making your cosplay emergency kit, try to include:

  • A small needle and strong thread to sew up any holes or tears that might be created.
  • Extra buttons or baubles if you have them attached to your costume.
  • Quick-dry glue to help adhere anything that falls off your costume.
  • Eyedrops if you are wearing contact lenses.
  • Painkillers, as wearing a heavy wig and walking around all day can give anyone a headache!
  • Hey, we all get snacky sometimes.
  • Hairspray if your wig or hair needs a refresh.
  • Makeup remover/wipes if your makeup starts to run or smudge.
  • Fabric scissors to help with repairs and free your material if it gets caught anywhere.
  • Safety pins to help keep your cosplay costume in shape if it comes apart a bit.

You can find many of these in a traditional sewing kit, or you can add what you need to an existing kit as well.

Can I use Spotlight costumes in my cosplay?

If creating an entire costume from scratch sounds like a bit much, you can simply take an existing costume and alter it to suit your needs. At Spotlight we have a fantastic range of costumes you can choose from - indeed, many of our costumes can be worn straight out of the bag for an effective cosplay.

Check out the following categories for some of the best cosplay costumes you can find at Spotlight:

  • Disney Princesses - the magical stories of Disney fit right into the cosplay world, and you can find a great range of adult-size Disney princess costumes here. From classics like Cinderella and The Little Mermaid to modern favourites like Moana and Frozen, our princess costumes are instantly recognisable and comfortable to wear.
  • Star Wars - display your allegiance to the Republic or the Empire with our Star Wars costumes! From generic robes and stormtrooper helmets to specific characters like Leia and Darth Vader, our Star Wars costumes can be used as a base for further detailing or a stand-alone outfit.
  • Harry Potter - comfortable and instantly recognisable, our Harry Potter costumes include full robes, masks, wigs and accessories like wands, glasses, broomsticks and ties. Become your favourite Harry Potter character or simply insert yourself into the wizarding world by creating a wizarding costume unique to you!

We have heaps of other popular franchises available for your cosplay - check out our adult costumes for even more great cosplay costumes and cosplay ideas you can use!

What Spotlight accessories can I use with my cosplay?

If you need that little something extra to take your cosplay to the next level, chances are you can find it at Spotlight:

  • Wigs - rather than putting in the effort to colour and style your own hair, use any of our costume wigs to get the job done! They come in a huge variety of colours and styles, from natural blonds and reds to eye-catching blues and pinks. Longer wigs are great for styling in longer, more complicated styles, while our shorter wigs are great for portraying characters with short hair without cutting your own.
  • Wings - angelic, demonic or insectoid, our costume wings are great for adding that extra layer of authenticity to your cosplay costume. Easy to wear and light enough for day-long use, our wings are large enough to make an impact but not so large that you'll have trouble in small spaces either!
  • Masks- many of our favourite characters have a disguising mask of some sort, and you'll be able to find one for your costume at Spotlight. From simple black half-masks to full masquerade-style accessories, we have an excellent selection of masks you can use for your cosplay.
  • Capes - add some regality to your cosplay with any of our costume capes, from dramatic black and red vampire-style capes to bright superhero capes with classic logos. Our capes are easy to customise with your own detailing and can be tailored to suit your costume with a trim, lining or logo unique to your cosplay character.

Browse the entire range of costume accessories and props online - you're sure to find the piece you need, or maybe you'll see something that inspires some DIY easy cosplay ideas in your mind!

Simple cosplay costumes for beginners

If you're ready to create your own simple cosplay costumes but aren't too confident in your sewing skills, never fear! We've got some DIY easy cosplay ideas you can create using existing Spotlight costumes and accessories that are a great way to dip your toe into the cosplay world without stressing yourself out too much. Here are some of our best cosplay costumes for beginners, as well as simple steps on how to make cosplay costumes on your own:

  • Darth Maul - the lethal Sith apprentice from The Phantom Menace is actually one of the best cosplay costume ideas for beginners, as it doesn't require much needlework and you can easily buy most of the components you'll need. Grab a generic Sith Lord robe and black clothing, boots and gloves for your outfit. Simple! The trickier part is the face paint. You may like to use a skull cap to hide your hair, or you can even shave it off if you want to commit to your costume. Then grab some face paint to replicate Maul's distinctive red and black markings, and use a mouldable plastic or lightweight modelling clay to create the horns. If you have a skull cap on you can adhere the horns how you like, but be careful to use glue formulated for use on the skin if you are adhering them directly to your head.
  • Harley Quinn - one of the most popular cosplay costumes for women is Harley Quinn from DC comics and the recent Birds of Prey movie. While there are plenty of dedicated costumes out there, you can probably create your own using clothes you already have at home. Start with a pair of denim short shorts, a ripped t-shirt and chunky combat boots. Accessorise with plenty of bracelets, some fake tattoos and a fake baseball bat. The face and hair are what makes Harley so recognisable - whip your hair into pigtails and use some coloured hair spray to make one pastel blue and the other pastel pink. You can use stage makeup to make your face pale, then use red or black lipstick and eyeliner to complete your look.
  • Sim - okay, this is your go-to cosplay costume when you're really short on time, inspiration or both! The Sims game allows you to create a character and control their life as they grow up, and they look just like a regular person, allowing you to wear pretty much whatever you want. But make it obvious you're a Sim by creating a green diamond headband to simulate the hovering 'plumbob' every Sims character sports to show their mood. Make your plumbob using a hat or headband as the base, use card or foam to make your plumbob and then connect them both with a spring or clear plastic rod. Learn some simlish to take your cosplay to the next level! - use 'Sul-sul' to say hello!

Tips & Tricks

Cosplay costumes tips and tricks

If you're wearing your cosplay to a party or convention, we've learned a few helpful tips that will help make your cosplay experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible.

  • Hidden buttons - if you are a keen sewer, hidden buttons can be a life saver when it comes to wearing your costume. A cleverly-hidden button can help hold parts of your costume together or make it easier to get parts of the costume off if you need to quickly undress.
  • Inner pockets - carrying around a handbag or backpack can be hard if your cosplay is bulky, and probably won't suit your costume unless your character carries a bag in canon. Solve this problem by sewing some hidden pockets in the lining of your cosplay! Hidden pockets are great for carrying small wallets, tools and even snacks, leaving your hands free to enjoy the event and making it easy to take photos on the spot without finding a space for your belongings.
  • Sweat liners - anyone who's worn a heavy or layered costume to a convention can tell you stories about the sweating. Often you're in an indoor space that has poor ventilation that's crammed with people, and it gets hot, quickly! You can find special sweat liners online or make your own - use them under a wig, in your shoes and in any other places you're worried you'll sweat.
  • Wash fabrics before use - if you are making your cosplay costume from scratch, make sure to wash any fabrics you think will need a wash after the event before you use them to make your costume. This will prevent your carefully-made cosplay from shrinking in the wash, as well as removing any treatments on the fabric from the store that may make them hard to work with.
  • Measure doorways - if you're cosplay costume will be quite wide or tall, take some time to research the venue you'll be attending to make sure you will fit through the doorway! If you are worried you won't fit, design your costume so you can easily disassemble it to enter and then reassemble it when inside.
  • Fold up costume for travel - if you will be travelling to your event venue, make sure your costume can travel safely too! You will probably need to fold it into a bag or case, so ensure it can be packed away without damage.

Find everything you need for cosplay at Spotlight

You can find all the materials, accessories and tools you need to create an amazing cosplay at Spotlight! Check out our sewing and fabrics hub online, as well as our costumes and accessories pages for pre-made pieces.If you need more professional cosplay tips, have a read of Spotlight's interviews with some of Australia's biggest cosplayers. And if you want to practice your clothing-making skills before creating your costume, try creating some of our clothing projects.




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