By request here’s some tips based on my experience of cosplaying on a budget. For each tip I’ll give a rough guess as to how much the total cost was in Australian dollars (sorry international readers).
I’ll start with the cheapest:
Sometimes you just happen to look like a certain character. Perhaps you’ve got the right colour hair or have a similar fashion sense. Maybe you bought some clothes for something else even another cosplay and it also works for another character. For example my current haircut, colour and style is very similar to the new Doctor on Doctor Who played by Jodie Whittaker. I also already had an outfit similar to the one she wears in the first episode she’s in.
Between $2 and $20
It’s possible to do all kinds of versions of even a single character including a casual clothes version. Characters I’m currently working on are a Pokemon trainer version of Elsa from Frozen and a school idol version of Loki.
Opportunity (Op) shops are a cheap valuable resource for cosplayers. I have bought heaps of fabric and sewing patterns from them. I even bought gold coloured belt buckles to make my own belts with. Of course you can also get clothes from Op shops including entire discarded cosplay costumes. I know someone who found a complete Sailor Moon costume in an Op shop. So basically buying secondhand is awesome and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Most of my Sophie costume is either secondhand or borrowed from my mum (thanks mum). I don’t know what you all think, but I think my Sophie cosplay turned out pretty good.
$50 and under or just over
Buying or even making your own cosplay doesn’t have to be expensive or hard especially when there’s clearance sales, op shops and cosplay tutorials. You don’t even have to make your whole costume you could easily only make part of it or buy all of it. the only thing that’s a bit hard to make from scratch yourself is wigs (unless of course you don’t need one). Often characters have impossible hairstyles and the only way to achieve it is through a wig. High quality branded wigs can be expensive, but I almost always get my wigs from eBay. I think my most expensive wig so far was around $50. I own a variety of wigs from really short ones to incredibly long ones. At the moment I would like to start buying lace front wigs which are better quality, but more expensive. It’s always good to be careful when your buying things though especially online since you won’t really know what you’re getting until it arrives. This is why if I find a good wig seller on eBay I tend to go back to them for seconds or thirds etc.
$150 and under
Sometime you do have to spend just that little bit extra. Maybe your character has a really complicated weapon or maybe it’s good quality makeup you need. Whatever the reason it’s easy to go from spending $50 to $150. If you have the money, but not the time you may think about getting a costume commissioned or buying a costume. While some super high quality complex costumes cost over $1000 you can still make or buy a decent costume for under $150. I have had two costumes commissioned for me and many more. My experience with getting costumes commissioned has been rather good. The first one I had commissioned was made by my best friend’s mum. She did an absolute amazing job making Sailor Scout costumes for her family and myself. It was awesome because I could even go to Spotlight with her and pick out fabric and go to my friend’s house try it on as it progressed. In the end I became a beautiful Sailor Neptune as part of my first group cosplay.
Well there you have it cosplaying on a budget. It can be done and it’s the only way I can cosplay. I hope you enjoyed this. If not or if you have anything else to add free free to comment.