Cosplayers at Comic-Con

15 Easy Cosplay Ideas for Beginners

What is cosplay and what is a cosplayer? Cosplay is “costume play” where cosplayers —people who participate in cosplay—dress to resemble characters in popular culture. Cosplay is a very alluring hobby. Who doesn’t want to step into the shoes of their favorite fictional characters? But at the same time, it can be very intimidating. People invest so much time and money into making the most accurate and creative looks come to life, and it can be hard for a novice to know where to begin.

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That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best cosplay ideas for beginners. None of these easy cosplay ideas involve sewing of any kind (unless you want them to), and you probably won’t need to go out and purchase much for most of them, either.

Mickey or Minnie Mouse

Singer Ariana Grande Celebrates 21st Birthday At Walt Disney World
(Disney Parks/Chloe Rice via Getty)

The only “requirement” for this Disney cosplay is a pair of mouse ears, which you can buy directly from Disney or probably at a local dollar store (or a million other places online). You could also make them out of cardboard and stick them on a headband. And if you want to take it further, you can wear a nice suit for Mickey Mouse or deck yourself out in polka dots and red for Minnie. A red dress can become polka-dotted with white fabric or paper circles pinned on. White gloves can also be a nice touch.

Marvel’s The Defenders

Jessica Jones in her signature grey scarf
(Marvel)

Most of the heroes from Marvel’s Defenders series are more well-known for street clothes looks than over-the-top costumes, making them good choices for cosplay beginners.

Jessica Jones and Luke Cage are probably the easiest characters to emulate the fashion of; the former with her jeans and leather jacket with a gray scarf and the latter with jeans, a yellow t-shirt, and silver armbands.

Marvel Disguise

Black Widow and Captain America in disguise in Captain America: Winter Soldier.
(Marvel)

For those who would prefer cosplay Marvel characters, look no further than the Marvel Disguise. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a running gag that sees its superheroes donning baseball caps and sunglasses as a lazy disguise that can be an easy Marvel cosplay costume.

What’s fun about this is that there are a lot of character options, since so many of them have put on this disguise over the years. There’s Captain America and Black Widow in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Ant-Man in Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Captain Marvel in her own self-titled movie. You might need to explain who you are a few times, but fans will appreciate the humor in it.

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn in first Suicide Squad movie.
(Warner Bros.)

Harley Quinn has had so many different looks over the years from casual to clown, so there’s a lot of room to make any Harley Quinn cosplay your own.

Most of Harley’s casual looks can be seen in the movie Birds of Prey, but cosplaying this character can be as simple as wearing red and black clothing with pigtails. Put on some red lipstick and dark eyeliner (and maybe some wash-out hair dye!) and bring the look up a notch.

Catwoman

michelle pfeiffer catwoman
(Warner Bros.)

Catwoman has a pretty iconic look, with her black catsuit, ears, and mask. However, cosplayers can easily forgo the suit if they so choose, and just wear any kind of black clothing they like with the ears and mask.

The Doctor from Doctor Who

Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper on Doctor Who
(BBC)

There have been over a dozen iterations of Doctor Who over several decades, so there’s a lot of choice when it comes to picking a look for the main character.

The easiest, though, is probably the Ninth Doctor. A black jacket, dark jeans, a dark top, and black boots should do the trick. You can also carry a rose around as your sidekick (get it?). Making a sonic screwdriver will add to the look, too, and there are instructions for making an actual light-up one online, but you could also wrap tin foil around a pen. Hey, we work with what we’ve got.

Stranger Things

Sadie Sink as Max and Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Netflix's Stranger Things.
(Netflix)

Again, there are a lot of options here and they vary in degree of “difficulty.” There’s the Scoops Ahoy uniform and Eleven’s iconic jumpsuit from season 3, but there are also plenty of outfits consisting of “normal” clothes with a bit of ’80s flair.

A good tip if your cosplay fits more into the latter realm would be to carry a prop—such as an Eggo box or tape deck with “Running Up That Hill” prominently displayed. After season 4, Eddie Munson cosplay has become one of the most popular Stranger Things cosplays.

Pokémon Trainer

Ash in Pokemon
(The Pokémon Company)

There are two routes you can take here: you can dress as an established character from the Pokémon franchise such as Ash Ketchum or Misty Terrain, or you can dress as yourself as a Pokémon trainer. For the latter, you can base your look on the Pokémon Go! avatars (baseball cap, hoodie, shorts).

Don’t forget your Pokéball or plushie of your favorite Pokémon!

Star Wars Jedi

Obi-Wan Kenobi leaning casually.
(LucasFilm)

There are plenty of Jedi robes and other Star Wars cosplay for sale, but if you’re on a budget, a brown or cream bathrobe with a belt and a cheap lightsaber will do just fine! And stopping to give a sexy lean in every doorway? That one’s free, my friends.

Scooby-Doo

Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini, Matthew Lillard in Scooby-Do (2002)
(Warner Bros.)

Scooby-Doo is an especially fun idea for a group cosplay and works well because the outfits mostly consist of “regular” clothing one might find in a typical retail store, online, or even a thrift shop. If the specific styles are hard to find (especially Daphne’s ’60s look), modernizing the clothing can also be a fun option. Just go with the iconic colors for each character and people will get it.

If you don’t have a group, one way to make it more obvious that you’re cosplaying is by getting a plush toy of Scooby-Doo (or another brown Great Dane) and carrying it around with you. You can also expose an old man who has been terrifying the town in a ghost costume by ripping off his mask and triumphantly telling everyone how you figured it out—if such a thing is happening. (I mean, it probably won’t, but it’d really work for your look.)

Coraline

Coraline in the stop-motion animated film 'Coraline'
(Laika)

Instead of going the Disney or DreamWorks route with your animated character cosplay, mix things up and dress as the protagonist from Laika’s debut film, Coraline. There are a few looks to choose from, but the easiest and most iconic is probably the classic yellow raincoat, which can most likely be found at a discount store, thrift shop, or perhaps even inside your own closet.

Coraline is also known for her blue bob—wigs that fit this look can often be found at dollar stores and party supply shops—and yellow rain boots, which can definitely accentuate the look!

The Addams Family

Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix's Wednesday
(Netflix)

With the recent animated movies and massive success of Netflix’s Wednesday, everyone is excited to emulate their favorite member of this wacky family at conventions and the like.

Wednesday is clearly the most popular choice, and pretty easy to achieve. All that’s needed is a black dress over a white collared shirt (or even a black dress with a white collar attached). Braids in your hair couldn’t hurt either, and there’s plenty of wigs with braids if styling your own hair isn’t an option.

Pugsley is probably the easiest Addams family member to create an outfit for, with a horizontally striped shirt, solid black shorts, and visible black socks.

If makeup is more your thing, Morticia could be a fun character to emulate. Besides a long black dress (and perhaps a long black wig to match), her look is all about the face. Silver eyeshadow and red lipstick really make this look, with some opting to go for nail polish to match the latter.

The last relatively easy Addams to dress up as is Gomez. All you need is a classic suit (make sure you have a bowtie!) and you can draw on his classic mustache with eyeliner or find a stick-on version online (or even grow it yourself, if you have that option!). 

The Belcher family from Bob’s Burgers

The Belcher family looks forward with shocked expressions in a scene from The Bob's Burgers Movie
(20th Century Fox)

The Belcher family keeps it simple and casual, making any of its five members a great choice for a closet cosplay. Each of them wears a solid-colored top and bottom (except for Louise, who only has her green dress), so if you don’t already have an item of the correct color in your closet, you will surely be able to find one at a nearby thrift store.

Of course, there are a few accessories you can use to make your character more obvious to those around you. Linda and Tina both wear glasses, Bob has his apron (and sometimes a spatula), and Louise has her iconic bunny hat. Admittedly, the latter might be a little more difficult to find, but if you have a small head you may be able to find a similar hat in a kids’ clothing store, especially when winter is approaching.

Luffy from One Piece

Luffy in 'One Piece'
(VIZ Media)

Luffy from One Piece doesn’t really wear much, and what he does wear is admittedly pretty basic. However, it’s also pretty darn iconic, so this one is the best of both worlds!

A red vest, shirt, or tank top is clearly a must here. From there, grab some jean shorts, a sunhat, and sandals. You can also paint the “X” on your chest if you feel inclined to do so.

Super Mario Princesses

Princesses Daisy and Peach hold hands in 'Super Smash Bros Ultimate'
(Nintendo)

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. The Mario game princesses wear elaborate dresses! They aren’t closet cosplay characters! Well, we’re not talking about their beautiful ball gowns here (though you can easily swap them out for sundresses of the same color to create a more casual look). We’re talking about their athleisure wear.

Princess Peach and Princess Daisy may love to dress to the nines, but when they’re out playing tennis, golf, or competing against the Sonic characters in the Olympics, they need something more practical to wear. The matching sleeveless tops and shorts have become iconic looks for both ladies over the years, with Peach opting to tie her long hair up in a ponytail to keep it out of her face.

Grab a pink or orange top and bottom set to recreate this look, and add a little tiara to really feel princess-y. For accessories, sports equipment can really make the outfit pop, or if you’re going somewhere with less-than-ideal weather, borrow from the girls’ fancy side and bring along an umbrella (matching your outfit, of course!) to protect you from both the rain and sun.

(featured image: Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images)


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Author
Julia Delbel
Julia Delbel (she/her) is a contributing writer at The Mary Sue and has been doing freelance entertainment coverage for five years. She loves diving into film, television, and theater, especially Marvel, DC Disney, and animated content, particularly taking a hard look at their character development, storyline weaving, and place in the pop culture pantheon.