The following was originally published on Cora Harrington’s blog The Lingerie Addict and has been republished with permission.
Alexis’ amazing guest post about lingerie and cosplay a few weeks ago got me thinking. Though I’ve never attended San Diego Comic-Con, I do attend Dragon*Con, Emerald City Comicon, and Portland Comic Con pretty regularly. And while I don’t think of myself as a “cosplayer” (in my opinion, that implies a level of skill I simply don’t have), dressing up is definitely part of how I have fun at these conventions. One of my costumes last year was Black Widow (shown above), and the year before that, my husband and I dressed as Spock and Uhura. Even when I’m not impersonating one of my favorite characters at the con, I still like to dress up in corsets and petticoats and the like. Why? Because it’s fun. And what better place to wear your most fanciful, extravagant lingerie?
That said, finding undergarments that work for your costume is a unique challenge in and of itself. Most lingerie isn’t made for costuming purposes, and when you’re wearing a jumpsuit made of spandex all day, little details like seaming and fabric composition matter even more. Many cosplayers make their own pieces, but if you don’t know how to sew or don’t have the time to or would just prefer to have a pre-made base to work from, there are some undergarments out there that can help you. Below is a brief-ish list of some brand and pieces I think are a particular good fit. Note: With the exception of the bra-sized items, many of the garments below (shapewear, knickers, hosiery, etc.) are available in plus sizes.
Bras and Nipple Covers:
When it comes to solution-focused underpinnings, Fashion Forms is the leader in this space by a country mile. The bra I’m wearing up above is their U-Plunge, and I was very happy with how it performed (especially since many of the reviews were less than stellar). In addition to super plunge bras, Fashion Forms makes nipple covers, adhesive bras, breast enhancers, strap converters, double-sided tape, and shoulder pads. They’d be my first stop if you need a special brassiere for cosplay. However, there is one caveat: many of their cup size bra solutions are not made for fuller busts (above a DD cup or so). That’s because a bra without a band (which is what a backless/strapless style is) won’t be able to support the weight of a heavier bust. If you’re looking for a lot of shaping, support, or structure, these wardrobe solutions may not be for you. Finally, if you’re looking for recommendations on quality binders to wear, check out this post by our columnist Rose.
When it comes to nipple covers, I’m a huge fan of Nippies. Not only do they make reusable silicone nipple covers in more than one skintone, their regular adhesive nipple covers come in a wide variety of styles and colors. It’s a great way to incorporate your breast cover into your costume… or just to ensure that you have an extra layer of protection if you’re wearing something very low cut or sheer). To get a sense of how well they blend in, take a look at this photo from my Instagram.
When it comes to knickers, a lot of people recommend thongs to avoid visible pantylines, but they’re not your only option. You could also try seamless/laser cut knickers or knickers with seams lower than your cheeks (such as boxer or full brief styles). Commando’s known for their invisible edges. The new Hanky Panky Bare collection also gives that seamless look (and is available in multiple skintones).
Sometimes though, you want the exact opposite of invisible. If you’re looking for panties that are meant to be seen, try frilly knickers or pin-up style briefs. For frilled pants, take a look at Playful Promises or Leg Avenue.
For pin-up style briefs that are opaque enough for wearing out of doors, I highly recommend Rago Shapewear. They’re my go-to when I need a fuller cut knicker. They also make a range of padded briefs if you need those for a costume.
Finally, if you’re looking for something completely off the beaten path, check out Knickerocker. Because who doesn’t want a pair of panties with a bear’s face or a cupcake on them?
Bodysuits and Shapewear:
When it comes to shapewear, a lot of people think Spanx, but as you’ve probably guessed, they’re not your only option. Bodysuits and shapewear can both serve as underpinnings for your costume or as the foundation for making a costume. Va Bien makes several amazing bodysuits, and they’re also know for their strapless bras and bustiers. There’s also The Body Wrap which makes seamless shaping camis, shorts, and briefs in addition to bodysuits.
Fashion Forms’ backless/strapless u-plunge bodysuit may also be the perfect option for some people.
While if you’re looking for super intense shaping (i.e. just short of a corset), consider Vedette or Squeem. Both are known for for being pretty hardcore; their latex shapers sculpt the body to dramatic effect.
Comfortable hosiery makes a big difference for your cosplay. Cheap hosiery is good in that it’s cheap (so you can toss it at the end of the night), but it can also be intensely uncomfortable after a long day of wear. Some people recommend dancer’s tights, which are available from Danskin.
Leg Avenue has the most comprehensive selection of cheap hosiery anywhere… in terms of both size and style. And they’re so cheap you don’t have to feel bad if you tear them or spill your drink on them. Speaking from personal experience, I’m usually ready to chuck my Leg Avenues by the end of the night, and that’s okay.
For prints and patterns, take a look at Pamela Mann. They’re also inexpensive, which is perfect when you’re looking for an unusual or funky design to complete a costume.
For colored tights, both opaque and fishnet, you must visit We Love Colors, which has over 50 colors to choose from.
Meanwhile, if you need socks, Sock Dreams is the place to go. They’ve got more styles and lengths than basically anyone. They also carry a few select accessories which may be useful for your costume, like gloves and petticoats.
Lastly, if you’re looking for nude or skintone hosiery, try StockingsHQ. They carry most every major hosiery brand in a variety of deniers (sheer vs. opaque) and finishes (shiny vs. matte). They also sell both stockings and pantyhose. My favorites brands are Pendeza, Cervin, Pretty Polly, and Gio. If you’re looking for more resources, we’ve covered this particular topic a couple of times on TLA here and here.
Many people enjoy wearing a corset at cons, and I recommend purchasing one ahead of time. Getting your corset in advance is way better than settling for something overpriced (and possibly even poorly made) from the showroom floor. Timeless Trends and Orchard Corset both make good, inexpensive corsets for cosplay, and Timeless Trends even has dyeable option.
At a higher price point (but still available off-the-rack for fast delivery), What Katie Did sells astoundingly high quality corsets. They’re also ethically produced, in case that little fact is relevant to you.
Lastly, if custom corsetry is more your speed (such as, for example, if you’re looking for a Playboy Bunny or Emma Frost costume), get in touch with Sweet Carousel and Castle Corsetry. Neither designer had marketing images of their costumes I could use in this post, but both have examples of their work on their respective Facebook pages (linked in the previous sentence). I highly recommend checking them out.
Finally, I really like the catsuits from Tasty Tiger. They’re actually the designer behind the “Black Widow” catsuit I’m wearing at the top of this blog post! Though you can definitely find less expensive catsuits to use for the foundation of your costume, I believe it’s important to buy a solidly constructed one. The very first catsuit I purchased (for a last minute Misty Knight costume) was so poorly made that it actually tore over my rear before the night was through! Not a good look. I was super happy with the fit and comfort level of my purchase from Tasty Tiger.
A Few Last Words:
While this list is expansive, it’s by no means comprehensive. I know there are tons of other designers, labels, and names that I’m less familiar with, and so have been left out. If you have a source for lingerie-related costume magic that you love, please share it in the comments! And of course, I’d love to see your own lingerie-inspired costumes!
Cora Harrington is the founder and Chief Editor of The Lingerie Addict, a fashion blog dedicated to lingerie. Her blog has been featured on the websites for CNN, Vogue Italia, Fox News, Forbes, and Time. The Lingerie Addict is dedicated to making the world of lingerie a more diverse place, and in 2012, she declared her website a body snark free zone. You can follow her on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.