Seeing people fully dressed in costume any time of the year besides October 31st is no longer a strange sight to behold. Thanks to geek culture becoming part of the mainstream, comic conventions like San Diego Comic-Con International and Anime Expo have helped catapult the popularity of cosplaying at conventions.

In case you’re not familiar with cosplaying, it’s a hybrid of the words “costume play.” So basically, when people cosplay they create, or buy really well made, costumes based on characters from popular/obscure movies, TV shows, comics, etc and typically wear them at conventions. And it’s not your basic Halloween costume that you can find at Target or Spirit Halloween Superstores during October either. Some of these people go all out with attention to detail while others find regular street clothes that they can transform into a costume and create pieces to go with it.

photo by Nina Penalosa

My friend who goes by the name Lady Dalek Cosplay, has been gathering material for her Princess Mononoke cosplay from the Studio Ghibli animated film of the same name, for the past year and it took her about two weeks to fully complete it. This included creating a furry cape and hood, papier mache-ing a mask and dagger, ripping up a blue dress and white shirt, making other accessories, and then bloodying up the whole thing with stage blood and coffee grounds to make it look like she was kicking ass in the dirt. Not to be biased, but she was by far the best looking (and bloodiest) Princess Mononoke there. 🙂

And my friend Shanice just found a white cocktail dress with gunmetal beading to work around for her Storm from X-Men cosplay. She spray painted a pair of boots, used felt to create the x’s, had her mom whip up a cape for her, and added accessories that she already owned to top it off. And she looks fab!

photo by Nina Penalosa

I, on the other hand, am way too lazy for that. I opt to casually cosplay instead, which is just picking a character, or movie/tv show, and finding elements that best represent them through clothes and accessories that I already own. Or I’ll buy certain things if I think of an outfit based on a character whose style I want to channel, because let’s be honest — I’m a raging shopoholic and I have a mountain of receipts to prove it.

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Casual cosplay is a lot more about inspiration than imitation. I tend to do this with my everyday garb quite often. 🙂

photo of author by Shanice Williams

When I went to Anime Expo last weekend, I decided to create an outfit around my My Neighbor Totoro dress from Her Universe. The dress itself is somewhat costumey as the top portion has the same coloring and pattern of Totoro’s chest, while the rest of it is grey like his fur. It even has his fluffy little self on the bottom of the left side of the dress. To kick it up a notch and be more festive, I decided to create a headband with little soot sprites on it.

I said I was too lazy to cosplay, but doing small craft projects? Those I can handle! If you’d like to see how I created my headband, you can check out the tutorial I made here.

Soot sprites can be seen in ‘My Neighor Totoro’ and ‘Spirited Away,’ both of which are popular anime films by Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli

photo of author by Carmel Hernandez

This is what the actual headband looks like

Anime Expo provided different backdrops for cosplayers to take photos at. How fun!

Expressing your love for certain characters, movie, and TV shows through fashion is so much fun and simple to do! Creating your own accessories isn’t particularly necessary, but when going to a convention it certainly adds a bit more oomph to your ensemble.

If you ever find yourself going to a convention or certain event and want to do a casual cosplay, just think of a character to draw inspiration from, look through your closet, and see what you come up with. You just might surprise yourself! 🙂

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