For over a decade making cosplay costumes was my full-time job as the owner of a costume and corset shop called Three Muses Inspired Clothing. I designed and made custom costumes, ran a retail website that sold costumes all over the world and had a local brick-and-mortar cosplay store. Everything I needed to make costumes was either easily accessible at my store, or I was able to order it at wholesale cost. I retired from the professional cosplay world in 2016, took a break for a few years, and then started dabbling back in dressing up and posting the pics on Instagram last October. My approach to cosplay sure is different now. I’ve finally learned to not be so picky and just have fun with it!
A Few Things I’ve Learned About Cosplay
1 – Cosplay can get ridiculously expensive
From materials to accessories to props…it really adds up! Even very simple looking outfits can end up being hundreds of dollars when you start breaking down all the pieces and what went into it. I recall I used to have no problem spending big money creating cosplay costumes, because it was all a “business expense” and I was going to use it to promote my store or sell it afterwards. But now that it’s just for fun, I think long and hard before spending a lot of money on a costume because I have the habit of not liking to wear the same thing over and over. I always want something new!
2 – Packaged costumes have come a long way, but they still don’t fit me
I recently tried ordering a Catwoman costume and a Legend of Zelda costume and both were OK and would probably fit a normal size person. Unfortunately I’m not a normal size and while one piece suits may fit other people like a glove, I am tall and have a long torso that makes them either not go all the way up, or stick out from my body in the back if I manage to zip them. Either way, I look ridiculous. I got a Captain Marvel suit and I couldn’t raise my arms, and then blew out the zipper the first time I zipped it all the way. This is one of the reasons I started making my own costumes in the first place! I might have been able to get the Catwoman suit to fit, but there was just no help for the mask that came with it. It was flat on top and one eye hole was bigger.
3 – Hand making everything takes a million years
I may be exaggerating a bit, but it takes a reeeeally long time to make something from scratch when you aren’t working on it eight hours a day in your personal workshop with no interruptions and all the tools, machines and materials right there. What used to take me a few days now takes a few months. I’m always looking for ready-made pieces now, and have become Amazon’s best customer. So much so, that I joined their Amazon Influencer program and now have a page with a running list of shoppable cosplay photos showing what I purchased for each costume. Click here to check out my Cosplay Finds on Amazon!
4 – Sometimes it IS ok to fix it in Photoshop
It used to drive me crazy when somebody would be making a costume and say that certain things would be fixed later in Photoshop. My job was making costumes that looked perfect in person and that would last all day long at a convention. Now? I’m making more stuff just to take fun photos of and most of the costumes get a little fix in editing. This makes it way easier to create some of these looks without spending a ton of time and money, but still have the fun of dressing up. Honestly, taking photos of my costumes was always one of my favorite parts of cosplay anyway. The first time I took pics of this Scarlet Witch costume, I didn’t even have the bottom half! I’m actually wearing shorts in this photo, LOL:
5 – If you are having fun, you are doing it right
The thing I have to remind myself is that I’m doing this for fun now. If it gets frustrating and becomes not fun, well there’s no reason for me to do it. So now instead of picking huge complicated cosplays, I pick smaller projects where the effort is mostly in an accurate accessory piece (like the Scarlet Witch head piece above) or something more along the lines of being “inspired” by the character and not meant to be an exact replica. I may still get frustrated while putting it together, just because sometimes that’s part of the creative process, but that’s ok because I do still enjoy a little challenge. I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that with cosplay you have the freedom to just have fun with dressing up and creating your own unique style or look, and that’s what I intend to keep doing.
About the Author
Candy Keane is a digital content creator and long-time cosplayer, most well-known for being on the cover of the Star Wars documentary Jedi Junkies. After making costumes professionally for over a decade, she now writes about about geek culture and mom life, and continues to cosplay for fun, while sharing her love of costumes on Instagram @SewGeekMama. Her first children’s book, I’m Going to My First Comic Convention, was published in 2020 and won a Story Monsters Approved award for Excellence in Literature.