New York Comic Con kicks off this Thursday (obligatory mention—did you hear about our panels?), and in theory if you’ve decided to cosplay then you have your costume mostlydone by this point. But you and I, fellow procrastinators, know better. Sometimes you want to go as something, but you have neither the money nor the time to rig up a steampunk Harley Quinn outfit or some genderswapped Monterey Jack from Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers duds. Enter closet cosplay: The last vestige of the casual, lazy, cheap, or pressed-for-time (circle as applicable) congoer.
As the name indicates, closet cosplay is when you use items of clothing you already have, maybe with an inexpensive store-bought accessory or two thrown in. Aside from the whole cheap ‘n’ easy thing, it usually has the benefit of being comfortable and (obviously) reusable. We asked Cora Harrington of The Lingerie Addict, casual cosplayer and author of this excellent primer on the best bras, stockings, bodysuits—just general underwear—for cosplay, for some tips on assembling an assortment of items that double as a decent cosplay base and things you can get use out of year-round:
Hosiery is your best friend. Fishnets, pantyhose, socks, thigh highs… all of it can serve as the foundation for a last-minute costume. Tons of characters wear fishnets (Black Canary and Zatanna, anyone?), while skintone tights and pantyhose are great for giving that “nude” look no matter what you may layer on top. In the same vein, socks of all lengths (ankle, knee high, and thigh high) are perfect for costuming, and if you happen to have a pair of thigh high stockings laying around (the kind that stay up on their own or require garters), even better! This time of year (Halloween), fun, costumey legwear is super easy to find on the cheap. Many an amazing last minute costume has been improvised with a pair of torn fishnets.
Swimwear, leotards, and bodysuits are all wonderful for casual cosplayers. My very first Black Canary cosplay consisted of a high neck black swimsuit with a zip front (which, of course, was paired with black fishnets). Another costume involved a black bikini top layered under a sheer fishnet top (this was my experimentation with punk Storm; it also involved fishnet tights). Like hosiery, it’s very easy to find a dance leotard or a bathing suit, and the latter in particular is on sale in many places right now. Trust me… you can do a lot of stuff with a swimsuit.
Sleeveless, ribbed tanks and undershirts are awesome. Think about how many characters walk around in a basic ribbed tank in various states of dirtiness or distress. You can smear with fake blood and be a zombie (or zombie killer), rip it up Wolverine style, or be any old superhero(ine) on their day off. Yeah, it sounds like a cheat, but if you’re able to handle the hair and makeup, everything else can take care of itself.
But let’s say your collection of swimwear/hosiery/leotards is kind of scant, and you’re a thrifty sort who would rather keep Harrington’s suggestions in mind for next year than go out and buy something now. Fair enough. Here are some of our suggestions for this year’s New York Comic Con. Hopefully there’s something here that can set you mind racing. Help a fellow nerd out, if you will, and leave some of your own ideas in the comments.