What is Cosplay? – How I Discovered It and What I Think After 3 Years

What is Cosplay? – How I Discovered It and What I Think After 3 Years

cosplay history

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.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Make Money As A Cosplayer

How I Discovered Cosplay

cosplay history

My first cosplay

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?

SFX Basics: Spirit Gum

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).

Then there are the closet cosplayers and the whole Spider-Verse community. I favor both of these when I don’t have time to craft. Closet cosplay is when you essentially take whatever is in your everyday closet and fix your hair and makeup to resemble a popular character. My Debbie Thornberry is an example of a closet cosplay.

You can also buy ready-made costumes from cosplay stores. Spider-Verse suits are extremely comfortable, affordable, and again, pretty much a staple “easy” cosplay. 

Then there are the hard-core crafters. The foamsmithers like Evil Ted and the seamstress masterminds like Kinpatsu Cosplay. There are mind-blowing wig stylists (check out @cowbuttcrunchies if you want to see a great wig manipulator) and incredible makeup artists like Art by Mazz.

Honestly, there’s a lot to get into when it comes to the facets of cosplay. Just search #cosplay on Instagram and you’ll get the gist of it.

RELATED: How I Made My Maleficent Cosplay in ONE DAY

Isn’t it… Weird?

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?

cosplay convention

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!

NEXT: My Cosplay Craft Room And Craft Room Ideas

Want to know more about cosplay? Subscribe to my YouTube channel for tutorials, cosplayer interviews, and ideas on where to get your costume!
Shop My Cosplay Supplies!

Shop My Cosplay Supplies!

craft room organization

Wondering where to get cosplay supplies? Honestly, there really is no limit on where you can shop. 

Most cosplayers start by buying bits and pieces from thrift stores such as Goodwill. You can come up with really cool (and cheap) closet cosplays this way. You can find starter material that you can sew and alter (or use for mockups). 

The next route you might take is eBay. I am a very impatient person, so I’m not too thrilled by the idea of buying a wig and waiting a month to gauge the quality.

However, 99% of the time, cosplayers tell me that they have huge and inexpensive success shopping here, so I still recommend it!

Then you can purchase full cosplays at some great online cosplay shops or, if you’re like me, you can become an almost exclusive Amazon shopper.

RELATED: My Cosplay Craft Room And Craft Room Ideas

Where To Get Cosplay Supplies

To help you get started, I’m going to walk you through everything I have in my personal cosplay desk. I have two YouTube videos on my cosplay craft room, so you can get more of a visual over there.

This list is exclusively for cosplay materials that you will probably need at your own cosplay desk. If there is anything else I’m forgetting or that you recommend, please feel free to leave us suggestions in the comments below!

Shop My Cosplay Materials!

Here are links to where I get all of my cosplay supplies!

Disclaimer: Actions taken from clicking on links may yield commission for the site. All content and photos are copyright Cosplay and Coffee unless otherwise noted. Sponsored content is clearly disclosed within the post. Thank you for your support and I hope these services help you!

To give you an idea of what I think you should buy first, I’m going to list my favorites in order. The top items are what you should get first, followed by the more advanced options.

RELATED: SFX Basics: Different Types of Fake Blood

Cosplay Wigs


Starter Wigs:

  1. Amazon Wigs (I especially love Kryssma Wigs)
  2. eBay Wags
  3. Arda Wigs
  4. Rockstar Wigs

Advanced Options:

  1. Wig Is Fashion
  2. Pish Posh Wigs 
  3. Everyday Weekend Wigs

RELATED: SFX Basics: All About Latex

cosplay supplies

Cosplay Crafting Materials


Starter Cosplay Supplies:

  1. Acrylic Paint
  2. Paint Brushes
  3. Craft Foam
  4. Avery Transfer Paper
  5. Spray Paint: The cheap stuff works fine, but I’m finding that floral paint is actually more versatile (it can even be used on shoes!)
  6. Plasti-Dip: A staple in every cosplayer’s paint set


Advanced Options:

  1. EVA Foam
  2. LED Lights
  3. Spare gems, flowers, and beads because you never know when they might come in handy! I get most of mine from Michaels or Wal-Mart
  4. Foam Clay

RELATED: SFX Basics: Spirit Gum

Sewing Patterns and Fabric


Starter Sewing Materials:

  1. Sewing scissors
  2. Sewing machine (obv)
  3. Patterns: My favorites are the Simplicity which frequently go on sale at Joann’s!
  4. Fabric: Almost all of my material has been purchased from Joann’s. I have purchased material from Wal-Mart but your options are slim there, and it’s usually not the highest quality material.

However, I do find their little squares of fabric to come in handy, so I’ll stock up on those from time to time!

I haven’t found any place cheaper than Joann’s, although I know that other cosplayers have found local shops to have more options. If you have a great tip on where to buy cosplay fabrics, please let us know!

  1. Elastic
  2. Velcro
  3. Zippers

Advanced Options:


  1. Rotary Sewing Cutting Set
  2. Adjustable Dress Form
  3. Hip Curve Ruler
  4. Styling Design Ruler 

Cosplay Tools

Starter Cosplay Tools:

  1. A good pair of scissors (for cosplay supplies only)
  2. Glue Gun and Glue Sticks (or 5)
  3. Mod Podge
  4. Box Cutter and/or X-Acto Knife
  5. Heat Gun



Advanced Options:

  1. Dremmel
  2. Wood Burner or Soldering Iron
  3. Contact Cement

There are a TON of things you can have at your cosplay workspace. I also recommend getting your hands on some of Kamui Cosplay’s patterns! They will save you so much time and it’s an easy way to learn foam smithing!

What cosplay supplies do you have in your craft room?
FREE Cosplay Content Calendar Template and My 2020 Plans

FREE Cosplay Content Calendar Template and My 2020 Plans

Last year, I told you guys my 2019 cosplans and gave you insight into the workbook I wanted to use. The workbook kept track of my cosplay spending, due dates, and materials per cosplay. While this might be great for taxes (if you earn money from cosplay), a cosplay content calendar template is really what we all need.

I’m not going to get into what I accomplished last year in terms of my cos-goals and what I failed at. That’s all in the YouTube video (and if that’s where you’re coming from– hi!). 

Instead, I’m going to explain to you how you can use my free cosplay content calendar template. If you want to see a brief glimpse of my 2020 plans, that will be included down below!

free content calendar

Disclaimer: Actions taken from clicking on links may yield commission for the site All content and photos are copyright Cosplay and Coffee unless otherwise noted. Sponsored content is clearly disclosed within the post. Thank you for your support and i hope these services help you!

How To Get the Cosplay Content Calendar Template

To get my free template, just type in your email right here.

It’s available in Google Sheets, which you should be able to have access to without a Gmail account. If not, please DM me on Instagram or send me an email for help! I personally use Google Sheets because I also use the Google Calendar so that it’s readily accessible on my phone and on my desktop!

How The Calendar Is Set Up

I was trying to decide if I wanted this calendar to be based on a weekly or monthly basis. I decided to go with weekly and to use Google Calendars for my big-picture/monthly ideas and due dates.

This weekly cosplay content calendar allows you to plan out your content week by week and includes a checkmark box for that satisfying feeling of getting shit done!

The Cosplay Content Calendar has room to layout your content on the following platforms:

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Your website or blog
  • Tik Tok
  • Email Newsletter

If you’re more into Twitter and Facebook, you can just retype in which platforms you prefer!

Weekly Layout

free content calendar

I have about 4 different platforms listed for where I plan on posting every week, including Instagram. I wouldn’t do any more than that because you’re going to overwhelm yourself. 

The first 4 rows are:

  • Social network
  • Done? Checkmark Box
  • Date 
  • Time

These are pretty self-explanatory. Let me explain how I use the rest of the columns:

Content: This is either my blog or YouTube title, video for Tik Tok, or it says which character I’m featuring on Instagram (I left examples in there for you!). Simplicity is key.

CTA (Call to action): You want this in every post. This helps to keep your audience engaged in your content so that they don’t fly off to view someone else’s content. Make sure your CTA asks an open-ended question or leave a little air of mystery that will entice them to check out whatever it is you’re promoting.

Topic: I try to stick to certain topics or types of content. On YouTube, I do reviews, tutorials, and cosplay tips. Whereas on Instagram, I post selfies, videos, WIP pics, and professional cosplay shots. This section is just to lay out what type of content I’m posting so that I can make sure I’m being versatile.

Shares: This is marked with a checkbox, but you can take that out to type out the actual shares. This is just to remind me to reshare my video, blog, or cosplay photos on social platforms that I don’t want to spend too much time on. If you’re strictly on Instagram, you can use this section to note if another page shared your photo.

Engagement: How many comments, likes, shares, etc each piece of content gets. If it’s all in one place, you’ll get a better idea of which videos, blogs, and photos perform the best. This helps in really niche-ing down your content, too. 

Instagram Cosplay Content

free content calendar

You’ll notice the bigger section at the top is strictly for Instagram. Even though you can use a service like Later to layout and schedule your cosplay photos, this helps me visualize future photo sessions. It also helps if you have a theme or a certain structure to your cosplay Instagram account. 

In 2020, I’m aiming to post every 3 days. Posting daily is a tactic of the past and it puts way too much pressure on creators. Instead, I’m using that extra effort to create unique content like blogs and videos.

Extra Features and Room For Ideas

To the very right-hand side, you’ll see that the Cosplay Content Calendar template becomes an area to list ideas. Of course, you can change or add columns to write down ideas for the platforms you’re most invested in (which reminds me, I should probably add a column for blog ideas).

As I said, I recommend using this template in Google Sheets. That way you can delete or add rows to the idea sections without messing up the format. You can also download the app so that you have your Cosplay Content Calendar template on you at all times.

As soon as you sign up for the template, it will give you an option to find the calendar on Google Sheets via link (second page of the email)!

free content calendar

If you encounter ANY issues or technical problems with this calendar, please let me know and I’ll send you an updated version! Just message me on Instagram and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. 

My 2020 Cosplans and Goals

  • Finish Iron Spider, Buzz Lightyear, and Kida.
  • One Disney princess cosplay per quarter.
  • Regular content! Especially YouTube and blog content.
  • Relax, have fun with cosplay, and try not to take things too seriously.
  • Let people get to know me as the person, not the cosplayer.
  • Write eBooks and a comic!
  • Monetize Cosplay & Coffee
  • MERCH! I keep forgetting to mention this, but merch is my big TO-DO!
Want more cosplay ideas and tips? Check out my YouTube channel for all the fun!
How I Made My Maleficent Cosplay in ONE DAY

How I Made My Maleficent Cosplay in ONE DAY

singer sewing company

Last week on my Instagram story, I told you guys all about how I decided to make a Maleficent cosplay in only one day.

Well… I guess technically it was a full 48 hours, but the work that went into it was definitely under 24 hours. Singer Sewing Company was hosting a competition for the most unique and creative Maleficent cosplay.

I saw this post sometime on November 13th, 2019. The competition ended on November 15th. 

If you knew me in real life, one of the first things you would learn about me is that I work great under pressure. In fact, I feel confident in saying that most of my best work derives from an unhealthy combination of coffee and procrastination. 

That’s why I felt no qualms in slapping together this cosplay in order to win one of their sewing machines. The competition called for a unique cosplay so I thought,

Why don’t I make this cosplay out of scraps in my cosplay closet?

So that’s exactly what I did! I didn’t leave the house at all to create this piece (I mean… I rarely do, anyway). All the items are materials that were leftover from other cosplay projects. A true #recycledcosplay.

Here’s how I made my Maleficent cosplay in ONE day:

Step 1: Choosing the Design

maleficent mistress of evil cosplay diy

I knew right off the bat that I wanted to do something based on this design. Because it needed to be somewhat creative, however, I dug through my discarded cosplay supplies to find something I could use.

I ended up finding a roll of chicken wire for a cosplan that has yet to come to fruition. I even found these big giant leaves that I had hastily made for a Poison Ivy cosplay back in 2017 that never came to be.

My idea was to make a wire skirt, paint the leaves black to look like feathers, and drape them over the wire for a trendy, yet recognizable, Maleficent cosplay.

Step 2. Gathering the Materials

I was so surprised by the number of random craft supplies I had. If I felt like a random item could work for this #recycledcosplay, it was added to my Maleficient getup. Although I spent significant time painting and weathering the giant leaves and finagling with the wire skirt, I ended up not using it because I didn’t have enough time.

At this point, I decided to just go with the screen-accurate concept from Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Here’s a list of all the arbitrary materials I gathered from my closet:

  • Black bodysuit (previously used for Black Canary)
  • 6mm foam (leftover scraps from my Iron Man)
  • Pre-shaped craft foam leaves (from a never-seen-before Ivy)
  • Green nail polish (that I’ve probably had for literally 10 years)
  • Tulle (from a never-seen-before Yellow Ranger concept)
  • Pink flowers (leftover from my JK Rowling)
  • Thermoplastic teeth (leftover from my Venom makeup)
  • Cotton balls and faux leaves (from your guess is as good as mine)
  • PVC Pipe, tape, saran wrap, and brown spray paint (leftover scraps from my Jackie Frost)
  • Clear Christmas ornament and LED light (leftover scraps from my Sub-Zero)
  • 2-year-old black spray paint, a little bit of leftover Plastidip, and black acrylic paint (from who knows which cosplay, but I’m glad a got to dispose of 2 cans of paint!)
  • Black material (no idea why I had it)
  • An old, thin belt (from high school)
  • Old tablecloth
  • 2-year-old Spirit Gum

Step 3. Coffee and Crunch Time

maleficent staff diy

You can see me putting this cosplay together on my IG stories under the WIP highlight.

I started by making the headpiece. I cut out patterns on the 6mm EVA foam and glued it together with contact cement. Then I marked designs into the horns with my wood burner. I ended up painting and gluing the leaves and black tablecloth to the headpiece to give it more of a 3-dimensional look.

For the bodysuit, I etched out a design in the stomach area that looked similar to the cuts in the Maleficent costume. I cut it out using sewing scissors. I had to be very, very careful. When I put it on, I glued the dangling pieces of fabric with my old Spirit Gum so that it appeared to be one full piece.

For the skirt, all I did was hot glue the old black fabric to an old belt. I played around with the way it draped and then started cutting into it. It could probably use a more delicate touch, but for the time being, it worked out pretty good.

The staff was my favorite part. And honestly, the thought of making this is what drove me to make the Maleficent cosplay in the first place. Not the sewing machine, but the fact that I could add another cool prop to my collection.

I cut down PVC pipe using a saw and then set to work sanding it down. This helps so that the spray paint will stick to the plastic. As an added measure, I also twisted tape and Saran wrap along the entire pole. This helped sell the illusion that the staff was a tree branch (instead of what it actually is… a bunch of garbage). Then I went crazy and started spray painting the entire thing with old tan paint.

While I waited for that to dry, I fished out the clear Chrismas ornament and green and glittery nail polish. You can watch the full tutorial here for how I made the top glowy part of her staff. When the paint was dry, I glue dthe bottom half of the ornament to the top of the pipe with contact cement and hot glue.

Step 4. The Finishing Touches on My Maleficent Cosplay

To give you an idea of how all of this actually played out: on the 15th at 2 p.m. I still had to cut out the bodysuit and embellish the headpiece. I was still wanting to do the wire feathered skirt. The giant pieces of foam were still drying in my bathtub.

By 5 p.m. I was adding cotton balls, teeth, and flowers to my staff and weathering it with black acrylic paint. It was around the same time that I realized that the wired skirt was a lost cause. Keep in mind that I still had to do Maleficent makeup and do a photoshoot by 11 pm EST. No amount of coffee was working for me.

My plan was to have my boyfriend take pictures of me outside, but I didn’t want to find a place and then drag him outside at 9 p.m when my makeup was finally done. So this was the end result, complete with a collective sigh of relief. 

diy maleficent cosplay

I didn’t end up winning the contest, but I was able to prove to myself (once again!) that procrastination, coffee, and I are like peas in a pod.

Have you ever made a cosplay out of scraps? Should we like… start a hashtag trend and call it #recycledcosplay? If you end up doing this unofficial cosplay challenge, please leave a comment below and tag me on Instagram so I can see!

My Other Crazy Cosplay Concoctions
How-To: Dexter’s Laboratory Costume

How-To: Dexter’s Laboratory Costume

WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY LABOR-ATORY?!

Just kidding, this is just my blog. And welcome.

By FAR one of my most popular cosplays is my genderbent Dexter’s Laboratory costume. I am a cliche 90’s nostalgia kind of girl and I take immense pride in it. The 1990s were the best decade and you can’t change my mind. 

RELATED: Debbie Thornberry Cosplay Supply Link

dexter's laboratory costume

If you don’t already know what Dexter’s Laboratory is, I’ll include some fun facts down below. But essentially it was a pretty popular cartoon about a boy scientist and his annoying sister and it ran on Cartoon Network. The main character, Dexter, is obviously a boy,  but after seeing the above genderbend artwork, I knew I had to recreate it (artist credit, anyone?).

And because I would absolutely love to see more of you in your own version of this cosplay, I’m going to show you where I got my materials. Yes, this is a fully purchased Dexter’s Laboratory costume. I didn’t make a single thing from it. I probably am going to do a DIY though because I found the perfect pattern (linked below) for it. The material of this costume shop dress is… no so good. 

You’ll find links on where to get the materials below. I’ve also included some suggested materials if you’d rather do an actual DIY Dexter cosplay. Men, there are links for you in here as well! 

Dexter’s Laboratory Costume Details

There are plenty of ways you can go about the genderbent Dexter cosplay. I personally saw a costume that I liked and instantly knew it would work for this Cartoon Network character. Someone once suggested to me that I could buy a chef’s coat and take it in to make it a dress. And other cosplayers may prefer to just make the dress from scratch. You do you.

RELATED: Chuckie Finster Cosplay and Makeup Tutorial

I bought mine because it was a fly by the moment idea and I’m an amateur seamstress. The dress was only like $35 and it looked like it was made to be a Dexter’s Laboratory costume. I already had the boots and the wig, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me. Cosplay is expensive, guys.

What You’ll Need:


For Men:


For DIY Dexter’s Laboratory Costume:

  • A pattern (this one would be SO cute; just readjust the neckline and the buttons!)
  • Black Buttons
  • White Fabric

Dexter’s Laboratory Fun Facts:

  • Dexter doesn’t have a last name.
  • The superhero, Krunk, in an episode of Dexter’s Laboratory is a parody of Marvel’s Hulk (Krunk has purple skin and wears green pants).
  • Dexter’s accent is a mix of Russian, French, and German. According to IMDb, “Dexter’s accent originated from Genndy Tartakovsky‘s CalArts roommate, Rob Renzetti, who left voicemails for Tartakovsky in a comedic French accent.”

 

Want to see more of my 90s cosplays? ;D

Who’s your favorite 90s cartoon character? Lemme know in the comments below!