A Practical Guide to Cosplay

I’m no cosplay nut, but certain anime have made me rethink my potential for such an art…

Since I miss Irina already (she is around, but in a reduced capacity), let’s have a discussion about cosplay costumes…outside of Halloween season, because why not.

I used to think cosplay was basically impossible, since I can’t sew to save my life, but paying attention to certain characters with costumes that can be replicated proves that it can indeed be done. Specifically, Sakaido of ID: INVADED and Waver (sorry, Lord El-Melloi II) – well, his depictions in Unlimited Blade Works, Case Files and Fate/Grand Order – have fairly iconic outfits, but after much staring at images of them (because my attention to detail is itself a form of self-discipline), it turns out it’s the scarves that sell their look.

For Sakaido, Desertified (episode 8) was a crucial step in figuring out how his outfit worked, since he takes off his scarf to wrap it around his head and in doing so, he reveals what’s under it briefly. If I did pin down the exact outfit, it’s three layers’ worth of clothing, plus a scarf, so no wonder Sakaido was suffering in the desert well:

  • mustard yellow scarf
  • light brown collared shirt (long-sleeved)
  • brown trenchcoat (darker than the shirt underneath it, but about as dark as the shorts)
  • black undershirt (likely to be a crew neck, noting that you can’t see it after he takes off his scarf and it would match his casual outfit from before he was imprisoned)

The sample chapter of #Brake-Broken (manga) shows an angle from his feet when he thinks about the brakes of his car. You can already see a lot of detail just from the key visual of Sakaido upside-down (which is, incidentally, the visual that caught my attention for the anime in the first place):

  • dark brown (or dark grey…?) shorts that go down to the knees (with black triangle patterns)
  • black leggings (or maybe even tights…? LOL)
  • runners (brown with bottle green heels and white laces, with a yellow lightning bolt design – there’s a closeup of them in episode 1, but they’re often depicted as fully brown with white where the laces are)

For Waver, he has three iconic outfits (two from Grand Order, one from Case Files).

Grand Order Stage 1 (red jacket, which seems to be his most iconic outfit):

  • jacket (the exact shade seems to be mahogany and it goes down to his knees, but a bright red jacket will do)
  • yellow scarf (It just so happens Waver’s yellow scarf is about the same colour as Sakaido’s, which is a nice way to save money.)
  • black button-up shirt (long-sleeved and with a collar, as seen in stage 2)
  • black undershirt (V neck)
  • black trousers
  • black shoes (supposedly leather and with no laces, so maybe it would be more apt to call them “boots” of some variety)

Grand Order Stage 2 (tie):

  • [same as above, but without the jacket + scarf, with a red tie and with glasses + a silver lighter]

Case Files (variation on Grand Order stage 2 and matching his appearance in UBW):

  • [same as above, but with a dark brown jacket, black cravat, leather belt and red scarf – the easiest way to go around the cravat is, if you don’t mind wearing another scarf, to wear the red scarf loose, tie a black scarf and then tuck it in]
  • He typically wears black gloves with this particular variant and the trousers are made of a shinier material than the other ones (leather?).
  • In episode 0, he has a specific pair of shoes stated to have been bought with his first full paycheck from the Clock Tower, although matching the specific design of those would be a task in itself.

Of course, if you got lazy (or “creative”), you could just get a plain white crew neck short-sleeved shirt and doodle Rider’s strategy game logo on it, then wear it with jeans.

I’ve found that male characters are much easier to replicate using the methods I’ve used to figure out these lists for various reasons, the main one being that their outfits are elaborate, but not so elaborate that I would need to learn how to sew and not so elaborate that they would be too farfetched for anything other than cosplay. Then again, there are still some outfits I’d find somewhat impossible to replicate without specialty cosplay goods, such as Anaido’s jacket (ID: INVADED).

Obviously, for actual cosplay/con purposes, you’d want to get as much of the details right as possible and for that I’d recommend charity stores. You do not know how much clothing goes into a store until you’re behind the scenes where the clothing gets dumped, so you’d be doing everyone a favour if you were a stickler for details and had more than enough money to spare for the last parts of your outfit.

However, the “practical” part of this post comes from this – if you’re just looking for an outfit to wear because you can (“stealth cosplay”, as I called it), then substituting some of the less visible items with what you have on hand won’t hurt, so long as they roughly match (and trying to match extreme details, like eye and hair colour, is only feasible if you want to do that and have the money/resources to spare…unless, of course, your natural appearance matches that of the character). What matters is the sentiment, because “clothes make the person” and “fake it ’til you make it” work wonders – if you think you’re cosplaying a cool character or wearing an outfit inspired by the character, then it will feel like cosplay anyway.

That was actually really fun to write about – I’ve mentioned I don’t know the foggiest thing about fashion, but nonetheless I like to think about what characters wear in my head, so having the words for that makes it easier to do so.

Sidebar: …well, it was fun until I realised some of the articles of clothing could be misunderstood (“pants” specifically, which I’ve since switched out…at the cost of making me sound fancier than I am). Of course, you could always just check what the character is wearing to avoid confusion…

Becoming an internet denizen means I’ve had to “unlocalise” a bunch of my words, to the point where you can’t tell where I come from (which is intentional).

So have you ever assembled a casual outfit with the intention of imitating an anime character? Or are you not the type to go that far?


6 thoughts on “A Practical Guide to Cosplay

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    1. I figured the only time I would take pictures of the cosplay would be if I went the extra mile to assemble the entire outfit, which would only be for a con. The current circumstances declare now is not the time to be going to cons…

      I’d probably wear one of the pared-down versions to a cosplay cafe, which my anime club did do in previous years, but I kept forgetting to dress up for them…(well, this was a strategy so that I wouldn’t forget to do so.) Maybe if they hold one again after this self-isolation business is over, you might get some.


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