My first cosplay convention was back in 2004 (I think). My friend and I were so excited to go to Anime Weekend Atlanta together and at the time were completely determined to cosplay as Black characters at that time. Seeing as there were only like 3 Black well-known anime characters at that time we ended up choosing completely random characters. Kaolla Su from Love Hina and Nadia from Blue Water (were those characters even Black??). There were a surge of emotions running through us. Validation from feeling seen in what we originally thought was a niche community, excitement from putting our costume together, and overall fear from really embracing the epic nerds we really are deep down inside. I’ve since then have grown in my cosplay attempts both as a closet cosplayer and hopefully a more mainstream one but I can remember the anxiety from picking my first cosplay and wondering about how to execute it well. If I could go back in time what I would actually go for an easy cosplay rather than trying to find a Black character I liked.
Well, I’m here to tell you that cosplay doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to pull off, and as an avid closet cosplayer myself I’m always happy to find things on hand to put together a new look. Here is a list of seven easy cosplays I feel would be easy enough to put together from your local department store.
Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Who doesn’t love a good Ghibli movie? Kiki has to be one of my all-time favorite characters, and honestly one of the best movies. I can recall being a kid and renting the movie from BlockBuster (Yes I know) on Friday night. Kiki is a witch who ventures off to a new city to discover her hidden talent. It’s a nice coming-of-age story about the perils of growing up, nicely reflected in the costuming of Kiki. She wears a simple navy blue dress, a red hair bow, and red flats. A good costume for beginners at sewing and beginner cosplayers of all ages.
Michiko and Atsuko (Michiko to Hatchin)
One of the best animes out there, the three leading ladies of the show are a great starting point for Black and Brown women looking to get their feet wet in the world of cosplay. Following the criminal Michiko, as she searches for her long-lost boyfriend Hiroshi, the girls discover the power of female friendship and how sisterhood is just as important as romantic love. Michiko’s iconic outfit is easy enough requiring only a red half jacket, a black bra, and white shorts. Atsuko’s signature all-white look and blonde afro are all you need to embody the character.
Any of the Titans (Netflix Series)
My closest friends probably know I have a secret love for DC comics, so when the new Titans show was announced, despite how much it’s lacking I’m here to watch every episode. Although the series is a stark contrast from the more lighthearted animated series, I do love the simple costuming of the characters and how it all boils down to just color coding each person. Raven just requires a blue wig with dark blue clothing, Beast Boy, needs green hair with green clothing, and Starfire well she has red hair with purple clothes.
Steven (Steven Universe)
A light-hearted children’s show that I don’t feel gets the love it really deserves sometimes. Steven is just trying to figure out what it means to be a hero and an all-powerful gem while following in his mother’s footsteps. Although he’s grown up quite a bit over the years, his overall look hasn’t changed to a star pink shirt, blue shorts, and sandals.
Android 17/ 18 (Dragon Ball Z)
DBZ is still an iconic show in 2021 and I think part of that is because of how memorable some of the characters were. Android 17 & 18 were twins who were kidnapped and turned into androids to help kill Goku. Their design was simple and they’re instantly recognizable to even casual DBZ fans. All their clothes can easily be found at local departments stores and I’m sure you probably have a few items lying around your closet.
L Light (Death Note)
A timeless classic of a young high school boy who just wants to rewrite the wrongs of the world through the power of a notebook. Akira stumbles upon an enchanted notebook called a DeathNote in which if you write a person’s name in it, that person will instantly die. While Akira’s costume is rather plain for him to fit into the crowd, L the protagonist of the first half of the story manages to stand out from the rest. His rather normal way of dressing highly contrasts with his more eccentric personality as you’ll only need a white shirt, and blue jeans.
Spike Speigel (Cowboy Bepop)
I’m so happy to see this show getting the recognition it deserves. Who would’ve thought mixing elements of a spaghetti western with sci-fi would’ve made for excellent entertainment and yet Cowboy Bepop has stood the test of time. The main character Spike is an ex-gangster now turned bounty hunter who travels the cosmos looking for his next target. His outfit is rather simple and probably something you already have in your closet—blue slacks, a blue suit jacket, and a yellow shirt.
Tips for Beginners:
Keep it Simple
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of Instagram and Pinterest feeds and sees all of the elaborate costumes everyone else has put together. And while all of those are worthy of praise remember that everyone started from somewhere. If you’re not ready to tackle the more intricate outfits simple is always best.
Look to Others for Inspiration
Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to follow an outfit to the exact tee. If you don’t like a particular item or maybe you want to add more elements don’t be afraid to change it up a bit.
The first rule of cosplaying should be to have fun. Remember there aren’t any rules to this and even if you don’t execute your cosplay well at least you had a good time.