Following on from Cosplay: Getting Started!, here are my top 10 tips on how to level up in cosplay! These are the little things that will make your costumes look better and help your confidence soar!

No matter how long you’ve been cosplaying, these tips are designed to help anyone of any skill level. A few small changes can make a big difference to how your costume looks!


These are the topics covered in this post – you can keep scrolling to read it all, or click on the links below to jump to each section!

1. Try It On First
2. Iron Your Costumes
3. Do Makeup Tests
4. Style Your Wigs
5. Plan Your Underwear
6. Plan Your Shoes
7. Wash Your Costumes
8. Check Your Lighting
9. Make A List, Check It Twice
10. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

1. Try It On First

Simple right? Put your costume on!

You will learn a lot by trying on your costume. Sometimes it’s great first time, but sometimes it’s not quite right. Trying it on before attending an event or wearing it “properly” gives you time to see what you like, dislike, ask for opinions and see what you can do to improve it.

There’s nothing worse than getting your costume, going to an event and finding out on the morning that it doesn’t fit properly. A little bit of prep goes a long way.

2. Iron Your Costumes

Your character doesn’t look like a creased mess so neither should you!

If you’re away from home, most hotels and hostels will have ironing facilities or an ironing room available. If you’re short on time, you can hang your costumes in the bathroom and steam them by running the shower which will also help reduce wrinkles!

You can also use products like wrinkle remover and spray starch which help make your costumes stand better when they’re ironed; depending on what you’re wearing, there’s a lot an iron can help with, so do some research, see what works and make sure you look your best!

3. Do Makeup Tests

The best way to learn about cosplay makeup is to try it out, and that means lots and lots of makeup tests!

Get your wig & makeup bag and see what works. Try using different colours and manipulating the shape of your face, eyes, nose and mouth. Take selfies and see how it appears on camera, asking for opinions to improve as you go. It gets easier every time you try.

If you’re stuck, check YouTube and Instagram for guides and examples. Many cosplayers will post their own makeup tests and tutorials with tips on how to achieve the same look, often with product lists and advice. If you can’t find any cosplay-related advice, regular makeup advice is really helpful too!

The most eye-catching part of any person is their face, especially in cosplay. Put some effort in and your whole costume will look better for it.

4. Style Your Wigs

Style your wigs. Thank me later!

When you buy wigs, even character wigs, they are rarely “styled”. Most wigs will need a little bit of styling, whether it’s trimming in a fringe or adding some spikes; practice makes perfect and your wig will look much better than wearing it straight out of the bag. If you’re new to styling, look for tutorials, guides and examples of the same character wigs; you can learn a lot just by browsing!

Buy a wig head and hair scissors! Having a head makes styling much easier. Dedicated hair scissors will make trimming much easier instead of using blunt household scissors. Best of all, you only have to buy them once and you can reuse them over and over again!

The staple hairspray of choice for cosplay wigs is Got2B Glued. When using hairspray, you can set your styling with heat from a hairdryer; it helps to “glue” the fibres in place. Most normal hair products like gels and wax won’t work on wigs, so do some research and see what is recommended by others before you commit and buy products.

When wearing wigs, always wear a wig cap and secure it with lots of hairpins or slides. Wigs can slip easily, and it’s usually because the wig cap underneath is moving; secure that down and your wig is less likely to budge!

5. Plan Your Underwear

Underwear! Lots of it! Pants, bras, binders, tights, shapewear, cinchers, petticoats and socks!

These are the pieces that give your costume a silhouette to work on top of – if the shape underneath doesn’t fit, what’s on top won’t either. Some costumes are made up of unconventional shapes, and you can’t wear regular underwear without it being visible. It’s important to make sure you feel comfortable and covered no matter what!

If your legs are on show, wear dance tights. They’re smooth, matte, comfortable and make your legs look great. They’re very opaque so they hide discolouration and marks on your legs for an airbrushed look. I often tuck shirts or tops into my dance tights to keep the rest of my costume smooth, reducing unwanted movement.

If you’re wearing something short, wear your own underwear, dance tights and then modesty underwear on top – a pair of cute shorts that will hide any embarrassment.

Petticoats come in lots of different shapes and sizes. If you’re wearing a fluffy dress, wear an appropriate petticoat and it will help hold the shape of your costume.

If you already have your costume, try it on and look in the mirror. Consider what you’re unhappy with and which underwear might help you. Honestly, it makes a huge difference.

6. Plan Your Shoes

Many cosplayers put effort into their wig, makeup, costume.. and then wear any old shoes. No!

Always try to match your footwear as best as you can. Even if they’re not accurate, try to wear something that looks appropriate with your costume. Bad or mismatched shoes will distract from everything else that’s good about your costume.

Different types of shoes will adjust your posture and make your body look different.  For example, wearing shoes with a slight heel will help straighten your back, adjust how your hips rise and how your costume sits.

If you want to adjust your posture without having a visible heel, check out heel lifts! They’re cheap, reusable and won’t affect the look of your shoes on the outside, but will still add a little bit of height if you need it.

If you are wearing a costume that has uncomfortable footwear, pack a spare pair of shoes. You can make them match if you want, but more importantly, don’t hurt yourself for the sake of a costume. Always have a comfortable alternative handy!

The best way to learn about what looks good and what doesn’t is to try it yourself. Bring out your costumes, grab all your shoes, see what works and what doesn’t. There isn’t one rule for everyone; it’s all down to personal preference and how comfortable you feel.

7. Wash Your Costumes

Nobody wants to smell 4 convention’s worth of sweat walking around. Wash your costumes!

If you’re not sure how to wash it, ask others for advice. Even if you can’t wash your full costume, try your best to wash the armpits with gentle soap or Febreze. Most importantly, make sure you’re clean when you put your costume on; don’t rub day old sweat into your costumes! Have a shower first!

If you make your own costumes, do some research and do some wash tests. Learn about which fabrics are susceptible to bleeding before you buy. Wash snippets of your bought fabric together with some colour catchers and see if they bleed before you start sewing. Little bits of preparation like this will help you avoid disasters when putting costumes in a washing machine.

If you buy your costumes, check with the sellers and commissioners for care instructions! Many sites offer basic advice for washing & taking care of your costumes.

If you can machine wash your costumes, I recommend using the hand wash setting then leaving them to air dry. Unless your costume is stained, the gentler the wash the better – all it needs is a little refresh before the next con.

8. Check Your Lighting

Want that perfect selfie? Check your lighting first!

Lighting is so important. You want to look your best, and good lighting can hide a multitude of sins! There are tons of guides online about finding the best lighting for photography – all of these apply to cosplay too and will make your photos clearer, brighter and more flattering.

Figure out where the light is coming from. When taking selfies I do a “spin test” where I stand in one spot and rotate until I find the most flattering light on the camera. If it isn’t flattering, I wander off and find somewhere else where it is.

Take lots and lots of photos. It’s better to have too many to choose from than not enough!

Pay attention to the background of your photos. Try not to take photos with dirty clothing in the background or any distractions.. you’re meant to be the focus, not what’s going on around you. Somewhere neutral or with complimentary details will make your photos look great.

Check your angles. See which angles work for you, but also which angles are flattering on others! Experiment with expressions, hand gestures and your surroundings!

The online cosplay community is fuelled by photos, so pay extra attention to how you look. If your collar isn’t sitting right, fix it. If you’re wig is too far back, fix it. Taking selfies or photos with friends is a great way to understand your costume and see what needs adjusting and fixing for next time.

9. Make A List, Check It Twice

I say “make a list”.. what I actually mean is “make lots of lists”

Make a list of what you need to pack and make a list of what you need. Make a list of what order you need to get dressed in and if you need any help!

Whether it’s a physical list, a note in your phone or something you keep in the back of your mind – make sure you have everything figured out. It becomes much easier to plan once you’ve tried everything on and got yourself into a routine.

You don’t need to go crazy labeling everything, just have an understanding of what you need to prepare. It saves a lot of last minute panic. I also prepare travel kits for my cosmetics, toiletries and wig supplies, so I can grab and go which saves a lot of time!

10. Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Never forget that cosplay is a hobby and it should be fun!

Sometimes it’s easy to become wound up by how stressful it can be to finish things for a deadline, how pieces haven’t arrived yet, or how self conscious you might feel.

Panicking over cosplay is rarely worth it. If you don’t wear your costume for this event, you can always wear it next time! If you weren’t happy with how you looked, you can improve it for next time! There are plenty of events and opportunities to cosplay.

Don’t forget you can always take a step back and wear something else. You don’t need to have a new costume for every single event. Make the most of it and enjoy what you do!

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Thank you for popping by! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me via any of my social media;

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