Cosplay has literally been a thing since masquerade balls in the 15th century. But in case you’re still wondering, “what is cosplay?” let me fill you in.
To be fair, I didn’t discover this community until 2015. Before that, I was just a normal human being– oblivious to the magic that was happening at comic-cons all around the world.
Many people have their own perceptions of the cosplay community. Some find it very strange while others are pretty neutral to the whole concept.
This community is full of fun, fantasy, and believe it or not… drama.
As a whole, we’re generally pretty welcoming to anyone who is interested in costume design. But some cosplayers have different definitions of what cosplay is and who is and isn’t accepted into the community. Some can be pretty territorial and downright harsh.
So let me just explain this whole cosplay concept from a relatively new insider’s point of view.
My first convention happened by accident. On the way to the airport (for my first ever airplane ride), we found out that there was going to be a Supernatural convention in Las Vegas… which was, coincidently, our destination.
Naturally, I convinced my sister to buy tickets on the spot. We eagerly joined the many Dean, Sam, and Castiels, fangirled at the live cast panels, and we even met Misha Collins (who plays Castiel). I didn’t need to ask what cosplay was because the concept seemed pretty understandable.
There were plenty of cosplayers roaming about the Supernatural convention, but I honestly barely paid any attention to them. The whole convention itself was pretty overwhelming and the energy was palpable enough that I couldn’t focus on anything other than my pure enjoyment.
Then my sister asked me to go to MegaCon Orlando with her in 2016. I hastily put together a Thor cosplay because I don’t need to be coerced into working with my hands. I crafted together my $10 costume and we headed out the next day.
And from that point forward, I was hooked.
What Is Cosplay?
Cosplay is a play on words for “costume play.” Most people know this.
What they don’t know is that there is no rulebook for cosplay. Cosplay, as I mentioned, has always been around. The whole masquerade era can now be considered a form of cosplay. Costume play itself gained traction in the ’80s and again in the 2000s, but now cosplay is slowly becoming a mainstream past time.
Different Types of Cosplays
There are unspoken “tiers” to cosplay as well. There are the novice cosplayers. That would have been me in my crafty Thor cosplay made out of craft foam and hot glue (still staple ingredients for any cosplayer, to be honest).
I’ve come across people in my real life who do think cosplay is a bit strange. And, admittedly, I’m always a little self-conscious about it.
That’s why I’m always so surprised when people tell me how cool they think it is. Everyone from my grandma to my childhood best friends will comment on the costumes they see me doing and tell me how much they enjoy seeing it.
Just this past Christmas, a relative (who I would instantly pinpoint as one of the people who would label cosplaying as “weird”) gushed over my character designs.
On the whole, it’s pretty close-minded to label cosplay as a “weird” past time or hobby. It’s true that it’s mostly older adults (25-35 years old) that are a part of this community. But that’s likely due to the fact that cosplaying can be expensive.
And while some people are insecure about the fact that adults are wearing costumes on a regular basis, most people are pretty cool with it. Whether you know it or not.
I’ve always thought that if people are judging cosplayers for turning themselves into characters, why don’t they do the same for actors? They’re literally doing the exact same thing.
Likewise, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to sew and to manipulate foam to make armored cosplays. Do I think it’s strange that some people put the same amount of energy into their own hobbies, like working on cars, baking, or filming YouTube videos?
Of course not.
Should You Join the Cosplay Community?
Like I said at the beginning, this community is notoriously welcoming. Most people rave about each others’ costumes or ask for crafting advice. There’s something to be said about the unequivocal bond you make with someone who’s just as passionate about Supernatural or Iron Man as you are.
However, a word of caution: be leery of the gatekeepers and the internet trolls. Reddit (r/cosplaygirls), in particular, is full of nasty people who seemingly hate their life.
Unsolicited advice is also becoming an increasing problem (“great job! But you should have made your armor a little bit redder!”). And if you know anything about the Star Wars gatekeepers, you’ll know that nothing is ever good enough for these types of people. Especially when it comes to your cosplay.
But should you join? If you enjoy art, have a passion for literally any fandom (from anime to Disney), and you don’t mind burning yourself with a hot glue gun for the rest of your life– then welcome to the cosplay community!
Some people in the cosplay community look down on those who frequently buy and order costumes from cosplay stores. I mean, I applaud everyone who has the time and to study, pattern, sew, cut, glue, and then photograph every single cosplay they don, but I personally don’t have that luxury. With a full-time job, my blog, YouTube channel, and writing books, I simply don’t have the time to ALWAYS craft my own cosplays. And you shouldn’t feel ashamed if you’re the same way.
Now that we have that established, I wanted to just write something up really quick on the cosplay retailers that I have personally found to be the most enticing and overall impressive. Some of these stores are more niche, while others sell everything from boots and full costumes to wigs and makeup.
And don’t worry, I did some research to get other cosplayer’s input. And overall these are the top 6 cosplay shops I recommend for anyone looking to buy a new cosplay.
I literally had to come back on here and change this post to Top 6 instead of Top 5 stores because I had to add this shop. Sim Cosplay can ship you ready-to-go cosplays with all the attachments, belts, and props needed to complete your cosplay. I love the way their website is laid out so you can see exactly what you’re getting for every cosplay.
I haven’t ordered for them yet so I can’t speak to their customer service or quality of their cosplay costumes, but it looks promising! I found them because as of right now, they are literally the only shop I can find with Supergirl’s new pants look.
The RPC Studio is known alongside one or two other cosplay shops for the best Spider-Verse suits. They also offer a small selection of suits of other characters such as Mera, The Flash, and All-Might.
I would say that about 75% of my cosplay closet is made up of these types of suits, and my RPC Studio Anti-Gwenom is by far the best quality. The only downside is that the shoes didn’t fit. But it came with magnetic lenses, a hard face shell and a removable mask that makes this cosplay look like it popped out of a comic.
So, I have yet to order anything from Angel Secret, but it was one of the first cosplay stores I was introduced to. I’m not going to lie, this store is definitely tailored more towards females because the bulk of their inventory is Disney princess dresses.
The reason I wanted to add them onto this list is that lately I have been absolutely blown away with their products. I’ve never cosplayed as a Disney princess because ballgowns and sparkles aren’t really my thing. But this store has got me second-guessing myself. The attention to detail is mind-blowing. Just look at this new Elsa dress. As soon as this caught my attention, I knew I had to mention it in.
At first glance, Cosplay Sky might appear to be one of those online retailers that you don’t know if you should trust. Mostly because it seems too good to be true. Their prices are on the higher end of the spectrum, but their cosplays offer all the bells and whistles. For example, if you were to buy a Captain America suit from them, you can also get the helmet, the shield, and the boots.
I got this Supergirl cosplay from Cosplay Sky. Not only is the material vastly better than I was expecting, but it’s comfortable! Again, I did a review of this cosplay, so you can check out the full pros and cons here.
I don’t know how I’ve been cosplaying for so long and have still never purchased anything from EZ Cosplay. They’re one of those shops that cater to nearly every fandom, from anime to Harry Potter. They also provide props and wigs! Their website is really easy to navigate and I cannot wait to get my hands on their Maleficent cosplay. Or Hermione? Captain America? Oh my God, I can’t decide!
I feel like some people are going to rage against (the machine) this decision, but hear me out. Out of all of my Instagram cosplay photos, the ones the do the best are almost always the cosplays that I bought off of Amazon. I’ve reviewed a few of these suits and the general consensus is that they get the job done. Plus, whole-heartedly believe that Amazon is the best place to get wigs and makeup. for your cosplays. You just can’t go wrong with Amazon!
In the two and a half years since I first stepped foot into the cosplay world, I have added 1,345 or so characters to my cosplans list. While trying to learn tricks of the trade (armor building, makeup, SFX makeup, resin, wig styling, breathing, eating, sleeping) I have made only a few simple cosplays that I am quite proud of.
So, this year is the year I decided to really buckle down and concentrate on specific cosplays. These cosplays will not only test me (mostly emotionally), but they should also teach me new techniques that I hope to share with you all on my YouTube channel.
To try to eliminate stress and expand time, I decided to implement the one cosplay per quarter method. This means that I will be making only 4 major cosplays this year, broken up in each quarter. And three months should be a sufficient amount of time to build, paint, and photograph a cosplay…right?
It works as follows:
Quarter 1 (January-March): Cosplay Project 1
Quarter 2 (April-June): Cosplay Project 2
Quarter 3 (July-September): Cosplay Project 3
Quarter 4 (October-December): Cosplay Project 4
At the end of 2018, I created a spreadsheet to keep myself organized. Yes, I know there is the Cosplanner app, but I already spend way too much time on my phone. Plus, I work better having a tangible outline that I can refer to. If you want your own 2019 Cosplan workbook, you can get a free downloadable/printable version by entering in your email address right mere:
And if you are interested in seeing my personal Cosplans and CosGoals for 2019, I’ve listed them below! On the smaller scale, I want to upgrade some of my favorite cosplays from 2018 (such as adding armor pieces to my Mera cosplay). While on a bigger scale, I want to become a full-time writer and creator. Not such a big difference, right?
Overall, I suggest making sure you are setting realistic goals. Having a cosplanner workbook has really helped me see where my time management is slacking and what is and isn’t obtainable with the time I have on my hands. If you look at the bigger picture, it will be easier to narrow down what you want to do this year and how you can get there. To be cheesy and give you an inspirational quote:
All we can do is our best, and sometimes the best we can do is start over.
So here’s to a fresh start! There is so much to learn from this crazy crafting hobby. Whether you cosplay goal list for 2019 is big or small, don’t limit yourself to mastering just one skill. You can do it all.
If you are in the market for a new Spidey suit, you have probably stumbled upon Zentai Zone. Zentai Zone is a great place to get a custom made Spider-Man suit, and these 5 suit features will ensure you don’t run into any mishaps, like I did. Be sure to check out my Iron Spider suit review for the full story!
Here are the top five features I recommend when ordering your custom Spider-Man suit:
You guys should know by now how I feel about forearm zippers. They are an absolutely necessity if you are going to be wearing a Spider-Man suit. Whether or not you decide to implement accessories such as web shooters or Venom claws, having these zippers will ensure you will have a full range of motion. You can use your phone, eat, drink coffee– the possibilities are endless! Without these, your hand use becomes very limited.
2. Zentai Zone Face Shell
If you watched my latest review, I was a little disheartened that I didn’t have a detachable mask. If I had, I would have also included a face shell in my package. A face shell not only creates a more realistic Spider-Man facade, but it also makes it easier to breathe since the mask isn’t sitting directly against your mouth and nostrils. The face shell can either comes with magnetic lenses (my preferred option) or attached lenses.
3. Detachable Mask
If you opt to get the face shell, then make sure you choose the detachable mask detail. I personally feel that these companies should offer this as a standard, but it is not. If you don’t choose this option your mask will come attached to your suit and be quite frustrating and uncomfortable. So, I’ll say it again– make sure you click this option.
Having shoes already embedded into your suit make it look more realistic. Plus, it takes out the hassle of you having to add the shoes yourself later. I recommend ordering half a size to a full size up if you are ordering from within the U.S. because the sizes for these companies (shipped from China) tend to run small.
5. U-Shape Zipper
This is up for debate, but I like the U-Shape zipper because it creates a seamless effect in your suit. It is a little awkward to put on at first, but once you become used to it, I believe it is easier to put on than the standard zipper. It also makes it easier for you to put on if you don’t have anyone to help zip you up.
Want your own Zentai Zone suit? Check out their full list of suits on their website. They come in all shapes and sizes, and each design is available for both men and women! Here is the Iron Spider suit that I got!
Paint the inside of the ornaments with different colored blue nail polish. I would drip a little bit in the orb and then swirl it around with the nail brush. I started with the lightest colored nail polish (an obaque blue glitter) and ended with the darkest nail polish (midnight blue). You don’t really have to wait for the layers of nail polish to try; just blend it all together! Then, just tuck in the white tulle (to diffuse the harsh light), and the LED light (the LED I listed above are remote control and can be various different colors!).
The prop you see in the photo above is actually this option. I used blue reflective tape on the inside of the globe. When you use flash photography, the tape will automatically give that fluorescent glow. I tried taping this specific tape to the outside, but the material is too thick for it to work. However, thinner white tape (such as Scotch Reflective Tape) should be easy enough if you just want to put the tape around the outside of the ornament.
Because the tape I use is so thick, I traced the size of the ornament on white paper, and then laid the tape down on top of that circle. Then I retraced the ornament on top of the reflective tape (use a permanent marker so you can see it) and cut out the circle. In order to place the flat circle inside the globe, I cut a line to the center of the circle so that the reflective tape could bend to fit inside. You’ll need two of these (one for each side of the ornament).
Lastly, put four dabs of hot glue on the inside of the ornament. Push your circular reflective tape piece underneath that once it dries, and it should stay. Do the same to the other side, close up the ornament, and you’re done!
From the side, you won’t be able to see the blue reflective tape so make sure the blue is facing frontwards when you’re taking photos. This is why taping the outside is a viable option since you won’t have to worry about that. But as I mentioned, the specific tape I bought isn’t flexible enough to fit the ornament.
You can also add fishing wire to the bottom and top loops that come with the ornament in order to create a suspending effect (I’ll update when I actually do this)!
Questions? Leave them in the comments below!
Recommended Glam & Gore Frost Bite Makeup Tutorial: https://youtu.be/VPoKuOlUoBM