top of page

How To Make Cheaper, Better Cosplays

Cons are a lot of fun, but one of the best parts about going to them is creating a fun cosplay! It's one of the only times you get to dress up and act as your favorite character, so why not give it a go? There may be one big factor getting in your way; money.

A lot of top cosplayers use expensive materials to make the most realistic costumes in their arsenal. When looking at all the amazing characters you can make with your own two hands, it can be extremely intimidating to try and find a way to be cost effective with your own materials. But don't worry, building your favorite character doesn't have to be that expensive! Here are some cheap substitutes to consider if you're going to be making your own outfit!



Yes, this should seem obvious, but it's always the best choice, especially for building weapons and certain types of armor! Cardboard is excellent when you're building something solid. Trying to recreate Cloud's sword? Using the cardboard boxes from big purchases, or even ordering custom cardboard sizes online, can be a cheap way to make a very large weapon.

The bonus to this can also be using tools like an X-ACTO Knife or sanding tool to help create smooth cuts to your cardboard. Layering the cardboard can also be a nice way to add embelleshments and definition to designs; say the sword your building has an inscription, you could always add cardboard pieces to give it depth.

Craft Foam

Remember that stuff you would always use in elementary school? Well it's time to bring it back! Craft foam is some of the best stuff to use for upper armor building or decoration designs. Essentially, it is the cheaper version of Worbla and it definitely works in a pinch.

To get the most out of building craft foam armor, heat is definitely the key. When heated, the craft foam can be incredibly flexible and will stay in whatever shape you mold it until it is heated again. To seal in that shape, you can use craft glue or Mod Podge, which will also give it a little shine.

Tin Foil

No, we are not making hats. But that doesn't mean you most certainly can't! If you're trying to create heavy embellishments to a project and you need something that will be a solid model, tin foil is a must. Think of items like horns or spikes; a few pieces of tin foil will certainly get the job done. It's flexible and you can make it very solid by scrunching pieces together.

Now, depending on what you're making, you may want to cover the foil with something like foam or even a kind of fabric. It's important to remember that painting tin foil can be a real pain, so try to use this for very specific projects only and remember to properly glue any openings in the foil so it stays together!


Felt is one of the cheaper fabrics out there, not to mention it is also one of the softest. If you're not really building anything solid like armor or weaponry, consider felt to be your go to for your fabric project. It's very easy to cut and apply to almost any surface!

The best way to use this is with thrift store or cheap/recycled clothing. If you're creating a character that has certain, colorful details on their outfit, felt is a great way to add those. This can be used for small-scaled projects, but that certainly doesn't mean you couldn't find use for it in bigger, more detailed cosplays!

Thrift Stores

You may want to be a hipster when it comes to cosplays, because thrift stores are some of the greatest places to find interesting clothing for a costume on a budget. Consider these stores a tool! You never know what sort of things you'll find in thrift stores and usually the prices are much cheaper than other retail stores.

Not only can you go to thrift stores for the outfit portion of your cosplay, but you can also search for potential props to go with it! There really isn't a limit to what you can find, but if you feel like one store isn't cutting it, don't give up hope. Continue looking and sifting through what they have until you find what you're looking for!

Everyone deserves the right to cosplay and have fun. That's the whole point of it! But money can certainly bring down anyone's day. These are just a few things you can consider for substitutions if you're trying to build your own. Remember that it isn't about how much money you spent on your cosplay that matters, it's about how much fun you had wearing it!



bottom of page