What is Cosplay?


A clever combination of the words “costume” and “play,” cosplay is the act of dressing up as a character or concept from (usually) fictional works. Cosplayers don the outfits of their favorite characters as they wander around conventions, fan events, theme parks, movie premieres, and more. Over the past few decades, cosplay has become immensely popular. Because it’s a hobby that spans so many genres, interests, crafts, and abilities, just about anybody can enjoy it.

The strict costume rules for adults at Walt Disney World have inspired DisneyBounding, or dressing in a character-themed outfit rather than an actual costume.

Similarly, many cosplayers get creative with closet cosplay, where costumes are created using regular clothing—often things they already have in their closets.

For those who are especially crafty, costumes can be sewn from scratch, built out of cardboard or foam, and even 3D printed. When it comes to cosplay, the only limit is your imagination.

If you’re ready to try your hand at cosplay, or are looking for inspiration for your next costume build, join us on the first Wednesday of each month at the Headquarters Library for Cosplay Club, presented by MakerSpace. We also have some great books in our collection to help you get started.

Cosplay: A History: the Builders, Fans, and Makers Who Bring Your Favorite Stories to Life

Andrew Liptak

In recent years, cosplay—the practice of dressing up in costume as a character—has exploded, becoming a mainstream cultural phenomenon. But what are the circumstances that made its rise possible?

Andrew Liptak—a member of the legendary 501st Legion, an international fan-based organization dedicated to the dark side of Star Wars—delves into the origins and culture of cosplay to answer this question. Cosplay: A History looks at the practice’s ever-growing fandom and conventions, its roots in 15th-century costuming, the relationship between franchises and the cosplayers they inspire, and the technology that brings even the most intricate details in these costumes to life.

Cosplay veterans and newcomers alike will find much to relish in this rich and comprehensive history.

The Hero's Closet: Sewing for Cosplay and Costuming

Gillian Conahan

This essential handbook offers detailed, step-by-step instructions that cover the basics of sewing costumes (which often require skills not found in standard sewing guides) to help even the most novice sewists create the costumes of their dreams. A skilled crafter and avid cosplayer, Gillian Conahan walks readers through finding inspiration online and through their fandom; shares insight into translating character art into real-world garments; and offers advice on pattern selection, alterations, fabrics, and embellishment techniques. The book also features 11 original step-by-step basic patterns--such as jumpsuits, jackets, and pants. It then suggests ideas for mixing and matching these basics to create costumes of all styles, including superheroes, pirates, elves, school girls, and adventurers

Create a Costume!

Sarah Myer

The comic convention is just a few short weeks away. All Bea and Parker need now are great costumes . . . But won't the supplies and materials cost a fortune? Not if Bea and Parker follow a few simple instructions from Costume Critter, the world's cutest cosplayer! With Maker Comics: Create a Costume! you can create fun, easy, budget-friendly costumes. And you don't have to start from scratch: A few simple modifications can transform thrift store clothes into a variety of costumes. Even mastering the sewing machine isn't as hard as it looks! You can make amazing costumes--all you need are the right tools, a little know-how, and a lot of imagination.

Casual Cosplay

Krystal Everdeen

Channel your favorite movie character and add a little magic to your everyday wardrobe with this enchanting and illuminating guide to casual cosplay.

Epic Cosplay Costumes: a Step-by-Step Guide to Making and Sewing Your Own Costume Designs

Kristie Good

Presented in a kitschy, comic-book style, Epic Cosplay Costumes combines fantabulous illustrations with all the how-to information you need for creating your own cosplay designs. Award-winning artist Kristie Good (aka Karmada) shares techniques for making must-have pieces to mix and match into original costumes--from hand-sewn garments to armor made with Worbla and EVA foam. In addition to her step-by-step instructions for pulling together attention-grabbing designs, she shares expert advice for making the most of conventions, striking a pose, and strutting your stuff at costume competitions. Whether you're a hero, heroine, villain, or sidekick, Kristie gives you the power to create the most talked-about designs with Epic Cosplay Costumes!

Yaya Han's World of Cosplay: a Guide to Fandom Costume Culture

Yaya Han

The authoritative guide to cosplay written by a legend in the community, and packed with step-by-step advice and fascinating investigations into every aspect of the art"-- Provided by publisher.

Cosplay-- a word combining "costume" and "play"-- has become one of the hottest trends in fandom... and Han is its shining superstar. In this guide to cosplaying, she narrates her journey from newbie fan to entrepreneur with a household name in geekdom, revealing her self-taught methods for embodying a character and her experiences in the community. Han covers the history of cosplay; use of nontraditional materials for costumes; and shares tips for transforming your hobby into a career.

The Costume Making Guide: Creating Armor and Props for Cosplay

Svetlana Quindt

Packed with more than 30 step-by-step demonstrations that teach the skills you need to bring all your favorite characters to life no matter the genre, Kamui Cosplay deconstructs the work that goes into making a complete costume, from the first thought to the final photo. Tutorials cover design planning, fabricating body armor, 3D painting techniques and more. Best of all, you can adapt every lesson to use in all future fandom projects spanning video games, books, anime, movies and even your own original characters!

Practical Fashion Tech: Wearable Technologies for Costuming, Cosplay, and Everyday

Joan C. Horvath

This book is the result of a collaboration between two technologists and a veteran teacher, costumer, and choreographer. They came together to pull back the curtain on making fun and innovative costumes and accessories incorporating technologies like low-cost microprocessors, sensors and programmable LEDs. Fashion tech can require skills in design, pattern-making, sewing, electronics, and maybe 3D printing. Besides the tech skills, making a good costume or accessory also requires knowledge of the intangibles of what makes a good costume. Regardless of whether you are coming at this from the theater costuming, sewing, or electronics side, the authors will help you get started with the other skills you need. More than just a book of projects (although it has those too), Practical Fashion Tech teaches why things are done a certain way to impart the authors' collective wealth of experience. Whether you need a book for a wearable tech class or you just want to get started making fantastic costumes and wearables on your own, Practical Fashion Tech will get you there.

Cosplay Fever Red

Rob Dunlop

Cosplay Fever Red offers a unique insight into the strange and fascinating world of cosplay. It is packed full of stunning photographs from 25 different cosplay events, with a huge variety of costumes from every conceivable genre. Featuring interviews with top cosplayers and numerous hints and tips, plus character and series information alongside every photograph, this is an indispensible book that every cosplay fan will treasure.

1000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas

Yaya Han

If you think only Hollywood and Broadway costume designers can come up with spectacular costume designs, it's time to think again! 1,000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas provides a broad and detailed glimpse into the ingenious artistry and attention to detail behind some of the most fabulous costumes you will find anywhere ... and most of them are designed by just regular folks who have a passion for the character they're looking to emulate. From clothing to makeup to accessories, these costumes are like nothing you've seen before.

Cosplay Basics: a Beginners Guide to the Art of Costume Play

Yuki Takasou

Curious about cosplay? Learn all the basics of cosplay here straight from experts in the heart of Tokyo!

Japanese cosplayers continuously take the art of cosplay to new levels and now you can learn their secrets! Cosplay Basics has collected all you need to know in an easy-to-follow how-to book on the making and engaging in the art of cosplay. With original designs and patterns so you can learn how to make your own costumes. Learn how to buy costumes; choose wigs and make-up; photography tips and more!

Descriptions adapted from the publisher.
By Hailey on February 20, 2023