5 examples of modifying cosplay
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Credit: Dirty Angel Photography/Photo-NXS/Sheena Bot

A cosplay beginner's guide to essential (and money-saving) costume building

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Oct 1, 2018, 3:00 PM EDT

Have you ever looked at an item in a thrift store, online, or even in your own closet and thought about how it's almost the right match for a certain character you want to cosplay? All it would take is a few modifications and a little work. And if the answer is yes, don't feel alone — cosplayers of all skill levels do this all the time. Sometimes, clothing items just speak to us, and other times we have to go on scavenger hunts in hopes of finding the perfect piece.

Here are five different examples of modified cosplay. Beginners and professionals alike utilize different ways of creating great cosplay outfits, their methods varying depending on the on the character they're dressing as and what materials they can get access to. Cosplay is sometimes pegged as very hard and overly expensive. This article will affirm that there is no shame in an easy and inexpensive cosplay.

Aurora Cosplay

Credit: Violet Twirls and Glu Dood Cosplay


This cosplay was brought to life by Jennifer Peake, aka, Violet Twirls of Violet Twirls and Glu Dood Cosplay. She saw a once-loved prom aka at a rummage sale, and knew right away that it would be perfect for Aurora from Sleeping Beauty. Violet Twirls was able to take the pale pink bodice and hand paint it to the correct dark pink color using acrylic paint. From there, she used girls dance tights to turn them into sleeves for the dress. For the last step, she hand-sewed scrap material to add more design details to the top of the gown. She was even able to get a crown commissioned by Bel Contatto that worked perfectly for Aurora. Not bad for a 50-cent rummage sale find, right?

Staryu cosplay

Credit: Photo-NXS


Santana Maynard of Santana Cosplay wanted a fun version of one of her favorite Pokémon, so she set out on a quest to find shorts and a top at Wal-Mart that would work. Not only did she find the clothing she needed, but she was also able to buy a plastic half circle and craft foam to create the icon star for Staryu while there. After that Santana hit up Joann fabric and purchased magnets, jewels, and rope to add her own flair to the cosplay. Santana walked away with a cute and original Pokémon cosplay for only $35.

Jack Skellington cosplay

Credit: Sheena Bot


This cosplay is my own creation. Modification only sounds really complex for this project. I (Sheena Bot) went for a gender-bent Victorian spin on the classic character from The Nightmare before Christmas. A black ruffle skirt, Victorian striped thigh highs, and a corset from my own closet served as a base for the outfit. I then found a Victorian-inspired jacket on Amazon.

Then I used a matte white fabric paint and a ruler to hand paint pinstripes onto the jacket. Once I finished that I removed the front zipper panels and made the jacket lapel smaller. The bat bowtie was made from scrap black material, scrap pieces of craft foam from TNT Cosplay, and the bat head was sculpted with paper clay. There was very little sewing involved, and the project cost a grand total of $40.


Credit: SuperKayce


Michael Wilson, aka Knightmage, crafted this cosplay, and it does look intimidating for beginners. But, once the parts are broken down it becomes even more evident how creative Knightmage is. He took a pair of green sweatpants, green gloves, a green troll wig, and a latex Grinch mask to create this cosplay. Knightmage painted the mask as well as his lower face with WolfeFx makeup to blend the colors to perfection. The troll wig provided all the fur that he attached to gloves and sweatpants. The fur that framed his face and neck was also harvested from a troll wig. He achieved the mischievous facial hair by cutting and modifying the wig to act as a headband around his face which pulled the entire look together.

Red Hood Cosplay

Credit: Dirty Angel Photography


Scott Kennedy, aka, AI Cosplay, has always had a love of making props, masks being his favorite. His Red Hood cosplay consists of a leather jacket he already owned, tactical gear he purchased on Amazon, a grinding shield mask from harbor freight, a child's Batman toy, an Ironman costume mask, and an army costume helmet. The Batman emblem on his chest is the Batman toy that he glued straps to and attached to his tactical harness. The biggest part of modification for this costume was taking two costume masks, and making them look like Red Hood's mask. To achieve this, AI Cosplay took the front of the Ironman mask, and the back of the army helmet. He glued and used Bondo to fuse the pieces together until he achieved a uniform look. Once he was happy with the look he added an adjuster from a grinding shield mask.

No matter what your skill level, sometimes the best cosplay components already exist in your closet. Don't be afraid to piece things together to bring your favorite character to life. You never know, you may be inspired the next time you hit up Goodwill or a yard sale. With cosplay the possibilities are endless.