Cosplay types… which one is best for you?
Normally when we decide on a cosplay to do, we do so based on which character we’d like to dress up as. But for some of you, you’d rather choose based on a cosplay type. And that’s totally understandable for various reasons.
Perhaps you’re on a tight budget. As much as you’d love to do a Worbla cosplay, you might not have the financial means to do so.
On the flip side, maybe you don’t want your face to be public online, so you want to do a costume like a fur suit or fully armored instead.
Whatever your criteria and reasoning may be, I am here to help you figure which cosplay type is best for you.
So in this post, I’ll go through 9 different cosplay types and for each one, I’ll:
- Describe the category
- Give examples of characters who fit the category
- Who should cosplay in this category
Without further ado, let’s get started!
1. Casual cosplay
In terms of cosplay types, the first category I want to start with is casual cosplay. Now you might think that casual cosplay is the same as a closet cosplay (which we’ll talk about in the next section). But they’re a little different. Casual cosplays are the bare minimum effort, perhaps one or two pieces of clothing to identify which character you’re cosplaying.
Examples of casual cosplay:
- A Yoshi onesie
- A shirt of D.va’s bodysuit outfit. Instead of her actual bodysuit!
- Wearing only Usagi’s signature blonde pigtails
Who is this cosplay type for?
- For the Sunday of a convention. As I describe in this article about which day of a convention you should attend (link), Sundays are definitely meant for more casual and light cosplays as you’re getting ready to pack up and leave. So if you just want to hit up the dealer’s room on Sunday, but want to cosplay SOMETHING, then a casual cosplay would be a great option. Doesn’t require any investment or time, and technically you’re still cosplaying!
- For casual cosplay events. If you’re going to a cosplay picnic or to a cosplay bar party, you don’t really need to go all out in cosplay. It would probably be uncomfortable out in the sun or on the dance floor with full armor! So if you’re doing Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion, just wearing her wig would probably be better for you than wearing her entire bodysuit.
- If you want photos of a cosplay but can’t afford the costume. A lot of cosplayers post casual cosplay photos, with only up to chest height. This is a great idea as you’ll only need the wig and some make-up to make it count, without buying the costume! It’s a great way to expand your cosplay portfolio if you don’t need to attend a con.
2. Closet cosplay
Closet cosplay is similar to casual cosplay, except in my opinion, you’re putting a lot more effort into your cosplay to resemble the character. Closet cosplay generally involves finding clothing and material right out of your closet to wear, which can be used for your next cosplay.
Of course, not every single thing needs to come from your closet. You probably won’t find a wig that matches your character exactly! But stuff like pants, shirts and jackets can definitely be used to complete your costume.
Examples of closet cosplay:
- Chloe from Life is Strange
- Android 18 from Dragon Ball Z
- Misty from Pokemon
If you want more closet cosplay ideas, click here to check out my article here!
Who is this cosplay type for
- Cosplayers on a budget. The biggest reason why cosplayers do closet cosplays is because it’s budget-friendly! Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a costume, you could be spending less than $50, even less than $25 on a cosplay! Because you already have the main pieces of clothing, the only thing you need to spend money on is a wig and possibly some cheap accessories. Closet cosplays are wonderful for saving money.
- Comfort over design. Let’s face it; wearing cosplay can be very uncomfortable. Wearing full on armor in hot weather can be unbearable! Many closet cosplays involve regular clothing that’s easy and comfy to wear (pun intended :)). Wearing Misty from Pokemon is going to feel way more comfortable than wearing an armored Scizor cosplay!
- You love the simple aesthetic of closet cosplay. Sometimes it’s not even about money or comfort; you just love the look of wearing simple jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe you rather look like a basic Mary Jane Watson, rather than looking like a super fantasy RPG character. In that case, closet cosplay is for you.
3. Regular cosplay
A regular cosplay is made of mostly fabric materials, just like regular clothing. It’s basically a costume that isn’t specialized in anything of these categories; it’s just a cosplay. Whether that’s a costume you buy online, or an outfit from a popular series.
To me, a regular cosplay is where most people will fit in this category. This will likely be your cosplay types. If you’re not looking to penny-pinch on your costume, or going all out with your budget on something expensive, chances are that you’re just going to have a regular cosplay. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There are so many awesome cosplays that aren’t specialized!
Examples of regular cosplay:
- Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses
- Zero Two from Darling In The Franxx
- Ryuko from Kill La Kill
- Evelynn from K/DA League of Legends
- Barbara from Genshin Impact
Again, the list can go on and on. As long as it doesn’t fit in any of the other categories, the cosplay types will likely go into regular cosplay.
Who is this cosplay type for
- If you want to spend some money on your cosplay but not go overboard. I feel like regular cosplays are great for those in the middle of the road, financially. You don’t mind spending anywhere from $50-$300 on a brand new cosplay for that upcoming cosplay convention. Regular cosplays tend to be within that price range. They’re not super cheap like closet or casual cosplays, but they’re also not crazy expensive either (relatively speaking for most people).
- You want to cosplay a new character. With closet or casual cosplays, you’re limited in some of the characters you can dress up as. For example, you’re likely not going to find a Madoka Magica cosplay in your closet, or a KDA outfit. So if you enjoy cosplaying new characters all the time, then regular cosplays will be your best bet, as most costumes fit in this category.
- You love cosplaying popular characters! Why not? Cosplaying the most popular characters is always fun and great for engagement (both on social media and at conventions). Like mentioned in the previous point, most characters will fall into the regular cosplay category, which by default means that popular characters will also fall into this category.
4. Special cosplay project
I felt the need to make this its own category/cosplay types because the experience between making your own costume vs buying one online is completely different. I define special cosplay project as a costume you make entirely from scratch. While it’s not necessary to make your own costumes for cosplay (I certainly don’t), for many this is what the hobby is all about. The challenges and struggles of making your own cosplay, and then the fulfillment you get when you finish and get to wear it, and everyone’s asking your cosplay photo at the con!
Examples of special cosplay project:
Dorothea from Fire Emblem: Three Houses (I did a whole post about why cosplayers want to be accurate and make their own costumes)
Who is this cosplay type for
- You want something challenging and fun. Building your own cosplay is definitely not easy, especially if you’re unfamiliar with sewing. But it’s a very fulfilling task and what cosplay is all about.
- You want complete control of your cosplays. When you buy costumes, you don’t really have much choice in the design of the costumes, unless you pay extra for customizations. When you make your own cosplays however, you decide how you want the costume to look lilke!
- You love being creative. The nice thing about making your own cosplays is that you can create costumes for any character you’d like. So if there’s a viral meme or character out, you can be one of the first to make a cosplay for that character. That’s what many cosplayers did when Bowsette started trending online. Or when Pokemon GO first came out.
5. Crossplay and Genderbend Cosplay
Do you like cosplaying characters that are not the gender you are or identify as? Or do you love changing the genders of characters you cosplay? Then this cosplay types is for you!
Now there is a difference between Crossplay cosplay and Genderbend cosplay. Let me explain:
Crossplay – dressing up the opposite gender of yours
Genderbend – changing the gender of your character
That’s the best way to distinguish the two. However, since they both involve mixing genders, I figure it’s easier to put them in the same cosplay type category. Today, both crossplay and genderbending are very popular in the cosplay community today, and they make for some interesting results!
Examples of Crossplay and Genderbend cosplays
- If you’re a male and you dress up as Usagi (F) from Sailor Moon (crossplay)
- You’re a female and you dress up as Kakashi (M) from Naruto (genderbend)
- If you’re a female and you dress up as Venti (M) from Genshin Impact (crossplay)
Who is this cosplay type for
- If you enjoy dressing up as characters not your gender. Pretty straightforward.
- You enjoy being creative and thinking outside the box. Imagine all the creative possibilites by switching the gender of a potential character. Or if a certain gender cosplayed a specific character. I’m still waiting to see a male Love Live! genderbend version. 🙂
- You like cosplaying genderfluid characters. Some fictional characters are in the middle of terms of masculinity or femininity, meaning that all genders would find it easy to cosplay that character.
6. Armored cosplay
Oh yes! For most cosplayers, doing armored cosplays is the pinnacle of the cosplay journey. It’s considered one of the most dedicated forms of a costume, as it takes quite a bit of time, effort and money to make one. Making your own armor for a costume takes special materials to do so as well. So if you want to look really good, armored cosplay can be one of your cosplay types.
Examples of armored cosplay
- Alfonso from Fullmetal Alchemist
- Monster Hunter characters
- Some Fire Emblem characters like Charlotte and Edelgard
- Iron Man from Marvel
- Samus Aran from Metroid (her original outfit)
Who is this cosplay type for
- You want to go all out on your next cosplay! Compared to closet or casual cosplays, or even sometimes regular cosplays, Doing armored cosplays look so much better. Worbla looks so beautiful on a costume. So if you want your costume to absolutely look the best, then you’ll want to consider doing armored cosplays.
- You love a challenge. Let’s face it. Making a cosplay with armor is pretty difficult. Not only is armor-making a challenging thing, but being able to coordinate it with the rest of your costume is not easy as well.
- Love and dedication for your character. Most of us can’t be bothered going all out in full armor for a cosplay. Either we don’t have the skills to do so, or want to spend money to do it. But if you don’t fit in this category and want your cosplay to look as fabulous as possible, then you’ll love doing armored cosplays.
7. Furry and fursuit cosplays
I myself don’t have any experience doing fursuit or furry cosplays, but they have to be mentioned as both of them are pretty popular in the cosplay world, which is why I had to include this in one of the cosplay types. When it comes to differences the two, a furry cosplay is “is an animal character with human characteristics; most commonly refers to such characters created by members of the furry subculture.” While a fursuit cosplay is wearing an entire animal outfit. Both of them are fun and awesome to cosplay as!
Examples of fursuit and furry cosplay
(As far as I know, many furry cosplays are not actual characters in fiction. Correct me if I’m wrong. But in any case, I’ll name a few examples)
- Star Fox (fursuit)
- Furry edition of an Eeveelution from Pokemon
- Gorou from Genshin Impact (furry, he’s got furry ears and tail!)
Who is this cosplay type for
- If you love furry animals! Nuff said.
- You want to wear a very comfortable costume. Fursuits and furry cosplays are some of the softest materials ever! It’s so fuzzy touching those paws. Or playing with the tail. I haven’t worn a furry or fursuit, but I love seeing my friends do so!
- If you want to hide your face or identity. One nice benefit of doing a fursuit cosplay is being able to cover your face and identity. There were times I saw an awesome fursuit cosplay, and I didn’t realize it was one of my friends cosplaying underneath that fursuit until after!
Note: because of the materials, you might be sweating hard at a summer convention in a fursuit, so keep that in mind!
8. Group cosplay
For some cosplayers, they rather dress up either with their friends or in a group. If that describes you as well, then you’ll fit in this category of cosplay types! Fortunately, there are many fandoms out there
Examples of group cosplay
- Love Live!
- Sports Anime like Haiku and Kuruko no Baske
- Power Rangers
- Attack On Titan
Who is this cosplay type for
- If you prefer to not cosplay alone. Whether you’re new to cosplaying or if you don’t feel comfortable cosplaying on your own, then group cosplays is definitely for you.
- You want to cosplay from the same series as your friends. If your friends want to cosplay from Love Live!, then it makes sense to do a group cosplay with them.
- You want to save money. This isn’t as well-known in the community, but doing group cosplays definitely saves you money as an individual. When you and your friends/group bulk buy all those costumes, you usually get a discount when doing this. Therefore, you can save a few bucks when you’re planning on doing group cosplays.
9. Original cosplay
Last but not least, we have original cosplays (or OC for short). This is basically where you make up your own character and costume. To be fair though, it’s not the most popular cosplay type to do. Because no one knows who you are, you won’t be getting many people asking for your photo, if any. And it can be hard to get engagement on your social media with original cosplay unless you’re already established online.
With that said, there are a few reasons you might want to consider the OC:
- You want full creativity. With an original cosplay, you literally can dress up the way you want! Since it’s your own character, you get to decide what you want to do.
- No need to worry about cosplay accuracy. Some cosplayer love to be as accurate with the source material as possible, while others find it incredibly annoying. With original cosplays, you don’t have to worry about that!
- You want to show the world your designs. A lot of original cosplays come from artwork. Whether the drawing is from someone else or from you, it’s pretty cool to see it in the flesh and in-person as a cosplay. A simple fictional drawing can turn into a beautiful cosplay in real life!
Bonus: No costume
Hey, not everyone has the money or will to cosplay, yet they love to attend cosplay conventions regardless! So here’s a category for them. I made a whole post regarding whether you need to cosplay or not at a convention. Click here to read!
Why would you NOT want to cosplay?
- You have no money to cosplay. Fair enough!
- You want to enjoy the cosplay convention without the hassles of cosplaying. Wearing a full costume with a wig all-day gets really tiring. Being able to walk around in normal clothing at a con feels great after you’ve cosplayed for a while. So if you rather take it easy and stroll through a con without the hassles, then forgoing a cosplay may be the best option for you.
- You don’t want your picture taken at a convention. If you don’t want to be the center of attention at a con, then wearing normal clothing is the best way to do so. Being a normie has its advantages!
To summarize, here are the 9 cosplay types you may consider dressing up as:
- Casual cosplay
- Closet cosplay
- Regular cosplay
- Special cosplay project
- Crossplay and Genderbend Cosplay
- Armored cosplay
- Furry and fursuit cosplays
- Group cosplay
- Original cosplay
And there you have it; 9 different cosplay types for you!
Which one fits you best, or which one do you plan on doing? Let me know in the comments below!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!
Casual/closet cosplay gang here 😁
My musketeer cosplay though is gonna be my first “regular cosplay” type in a while. Made that entirely from scratch with fabric and tape, and had to scour through a bunch of resources and math to get it right! So looking forward to putting it on this summer hopefully…
Oooh nice! Show us some photos if/when you’re done. Anime North, YetiCon and Fan Expo are happening this summer, so definitely lots of opportunities to cosplay!