How do you plan a cosplay?

Whether if you’re new to this. Or if you’re an experienced cosplayer looking to better plan out your next ideas, planning out your cosplays is definitely important. You might think it’s as easy as clicking the “Buy” button on a cosplay website. But if you want your cosplay to look the best as possible, then there’s definitely a lot more to it than that.

Not to worry though, that’s what this post is about.

In this article, I’ll give you 9 easy steps on how to make your own cosplay. Follow these steps in order and not only will you have a hassle-free experience, but you’ll also save a lot of time and money.

Without further ado, let’s go and get started!

1. Determine your budget

If you don’t have much money to spend, then something budget-friendly like a sports Anime costume would be better for you.

What?! The first priority of cosplay planning has nothing to do with the costume itself? Yes!

I feel that your budget by far will determine which character you will cosplay. We want to be realistic with the cosplays you can afford to do at the moment.

For example, while it’s great you want to do a Monster Hunter cosplay with full armor and LED lights, truth be told, that would cost a LOT of money to do. So if you’re a broke cosplayer, you probably don’t want to do an expensive cosplay like that if you don’t have the budget for it.

How much does a cosplay generally cost? I wrote an entire article about it; you can click here to read it. But to sum it up, there are 3 levels of cosplay prices:

  • Low cost = under $100
  • Mid-level cost = $100-$300
  • High level cost = Over $300

So before you decide on a character, first determine how much money you have to spend on a costume. Obviously the more money you have, the more elaborate characters you can do. But no worries if you can’t; there are PLENTY of other characters that are budget-friendly and still look great, including closet cosplays.

Okay, with that out of the way…now we can…

2. Decide on a character

Amber may be the worst character in the game, but she’s one of the best Genshin Impact characters to cosplay! Cosplayer: luckyeliee.

This is probably the most fun part on how do you plan a cosplay. This involves no work or taking out any money, just your imagination running wild! Assuming you already know your budget, here are some ideas on how to decide on a character:

  • Who are your favorite characters that you adore and love? From a video game, Anime, TV series, etc.
  • Which characters look like you the most? (It’s okay to want to cosplay someone who looks similar to you. Cosplay accuracy is not necessary by any means, but still fun nonetheless.)
  • Which characters have designs that you enjoy? While I feel you don’t need to know the character in and out, it’s good to know a little bit about them.
  • Which character is the cheapest to pull off? If you just want to cosplay for an event and don’t care much about whom, then go for the most budget-friendly options.

I’ve made a variety of posts when it comes to cosplay ideas, check some of these out:

3. Set a deadline for your cosplay

Anime North Review
Time flies and before you know it, the next convention will be around shortly! So be sure to set deadlines for your cosplay plans.

If you want to wear your new cosplay at the next convention you plan to attend, then it’s definitely a good idea to set a deadline. You don’t want to be leaving things to the last minute, which could lead to con crunch or hoping your costume arrives on time…both can definitely be stressful!

So give yourself plenty of time to get your cosplay ready for the next con to wear. And in the case of buying a costume, you’ll want to anticipate shipping delays, especially today with the pandemic messing everything up.

4. Make sure you have the right size and measurements

If a costume is way too loose or tight, it won’t look good at all. So be sure to get the right measurements that will fit you perfectly! Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.

Alright, now that you’ve decided which character you want to cosplay, there’s one last thing you want to do. It’s making sure you have the right size and measurements. I preach this many times on my blog; having the cosplay fit you well with make you look a LOT better. If a cosplay is too small or big on you, it won’t look as good.

Here’s how to measure yourself. Get a friend or family member to measure out your body and write down your measurements. Save the measurements down on paper or on your phone for future reference; these numbers will be handy because every site has their own different sizes. But if you know your body measurements, it doesn’t matter because you’ll easily be able to pick the right size on any site. Knowing your body measurements is super handy!

5. Collect reference photos

The reference photos will help you get the look you want. Cosplayer: breathelifeindeeply.

I highly recommend saving a bunch of photos of the character you want to cosplay, in a folder on your computer or you can print it out as well. Having reference photos will make your life a lot easier! By having a visual reference, you can see which clothing and materials you’ll need for the character. It’ll also give you ideas on how to look the best.

6. Buy the costume

Be sure to shop around and make sure you’re getting the best deal for your costume.

If you plan on making the costume yourself, you can skip this section and move to the next one.

With that said, now it’s time to buy the costume from a cosplay store. Sometimes a character has different outfits, so make sure you buy the one you want to wear.

I also recommend looking at more than one website when choosing a cosplay to buy. That way, you can compare the different prices and see which ones offer the best value.

If you want a complete guide on the best cosplay websites out there, click here to read my article about it.

7. Collect materials and accessories

Marth Tiki (how do you plan a cosplay)
Having reference photos will help you pinpoint the cost of items and what you need for your cosplay.

If you already bought your costume and received it, then congratulations you’re mostly done! With that said, you’re likely missing a few accessories and footwear to go along with it. If that’s the case, then now is the time to go ahead and find those materials in the store (or get them commissioned). With your reference photos, you can easily see all the stuff you need to complete your cosplay.

Now if you’re making your own costume, then this is the time to collect materials for your costume. This could be the fabric, the tools needed to put it together and other materials. There’s definitely a lot that can go into making a cosplay, so the sky is the limit!

8. “Test” out the cosplay at home

Shield Hero cosplay
Wear your costume at home at least once, so you can see if you need to fix anything.

Now that your cosplay is ready to go, I would recommend testing it out at home before you wear it to the convention. Give it a test run and put the costume on. Because there may be things that aren’t 100 percent with it. Maybe one of the zippers isn’t working properly. Or the pants fit awkwardly. I’ve certainly made the mistake of waiting until the convention to wear a costume, and ended up having to fix things on the spot during the con…which I should have done at home.

By getting a good look in the mirror before wearing it at an actual convention, you can tune and perfect your cosplay, and see if there’s any adjustments that need to be made. Better to take care of these things before the convention takes place.

This is also the best time to try a makeup test for your cosplay. Putting on cosplay makeup can be time-consuming, so you’ll want to know if your makeup goes well with the outfit or not.

9. Show your cosplay to the world!

The best part about cosplay is showing it off to the world!

Finally, it’s time to wear your cosplay at the convention! Admire the costume you made or you bought and show it off to the cosplay world! Relish and feel great when someone asks for your photo. 🙂


To summarize, here are the 9 steps on how to make your own cosplay:

  1. Determine your budget
  2. Decide on a character
  3. Set a deadline for your cosplay
  4. Make sure you have the right size and measurements
  5. Collect reference photos
  6. Buy the costume
  7. Collect materials and accessories
  8. “Test” out the cosplay at home
  9. Show your cosplay to the world!

And there you have it; 9 steps on how to make your own cosplay!

Although planning a cosplay can seem daunting, if you take these step by step, then cosplay planning will come easy. Whether it’s doing casual sports Anime cosplay, or an elaborate Armor cosplay, every character deserves a bit of planning in order to get the best cosplay look possible. And to save time and money as well.  Hope this helps you when it comes to how do you plan a cosplay!

Leave a comment below if you have any questions 🙂

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