Cosplaying While Plus Sized: Character Selection

I will preface this with one thing that I want everyone to be one-hundred percent clear on:

You can cosplay anything and everything that your heart desires, no matter your age, size, gender, skin color, height, etc.

And even with this knowledge, occasionally we all need a little bit of help deciding on our next costumes. That’s perfectly fine, I promise. Not everyone has that full on years long “to cosplay” list stored in their mental file cabinet. I know I sure don’t. More specifically, however, I’ve found that a lot of plus sized cosplayers have been having trouble deciding on something that they think “suits them”

I am here to tell you right up that if you want to wear it: do it. Love LOVE yourself and all that your body can do. You do NOT need to be a statuesque thin model to wear popular or attractive costumes.

However! This feeling isn’t easy, which is why we are here. We are here to get and give advice for those of us (myself included) who have a little bit more cushion to love. This article is how I do things, and may not be for everyone. It’s not meant to be a hard and fast guide for people, just my own experiences.

SO let’s break it down into some super simple steps that have personally helped me in the past.

Step One: Research!!

Think about the type of con you’re going to and the impact you want your costume to make. For example, if you want to me recognized and asked for a lot of pictures at an Anime con, it’s a good idea to look at the shows and manga that are currently popular.

Watch some new shows, read some new books, or rekindle an old favorite and binge watch “retro” anime on Netflix/Hulu/Crunchyroll. This will help you get some ideas for characters that you like and connect with.

Pause the shows when a character you like comes on and look at their costume. Is it something you would feel stellar in? Write it down. Do they have a variation that you absolutely adore? Screenshot it! Do you just love this character and want to showcase that love to the world? Welcome to fandom, you’re among friends.

For me, it was re-playing a game form my PS2 that I loved and adored. Odin Sphere. (Note: I made the costume the year the remake was announced, because I was THAT stoked)

Do you have some ideas now? Good! Moving on!

Step Two: Make your list of potentials and grab reference images.

So you’ve binged all of MHA, re-read all of The Uncanny X-Men, or played through Tales of Berseria to 100%. Awesome. Step one complete.

Now what you want to do is make yourself a list. When I’m trying to get cosplay ideas in order, I usually start by making a simple chart in word. I set it up with the name of the source (show/game/book/etc), character name, reference material for character photos, and a max budget. For the sake of this series, I’ll be following my construction of Gwendolyn’s ballgown from the video game Odin Sphere

Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 9.59.22 AM

Step Three: Establish your max budget and intensity level.

This one is easy. What is the max amount that you would be willing to spend on props, wigs, materials, contacts, etc. It is super easy to blow past your budget if you don’t think about it too hard. I’ve done that many times before. Look at what your personal circumstances can allow, and stick to it! For my example costume (Gwendolyn) I had a max budget of three-hundred ($300) dollars.

How skilled are you at sewing and crafting? Would you need to commission a piece or purchase premade? (nothing wrong with either of these!! Supporting your local artists is a great thing to do.) It’s important to map out what you think you can do before you set your sights hard on a character.

Step Four: Will you need to modify the design at all?

You’ve done it. You were able to find a character you adore. They have a beautiful design, and you would love more than anything to wear that fabulous outfit all day and really act the role! But there’s this ONE thing that’s making you doubt your choice. Whether it be a strapless conundrum for the busty gals out there or a silhouette insecurity for those of us who need a bit more points into our confidence stats, your concerns are valid and normal. They are not, however, project-ending. You can make your favorite costume into something that you will feel comfortable in based on your personal preferences!

This is something I’ve had to see a lot more of in the plus sized community than anything, so please don’t discount any character based on one or two design elements that can very easily be changed!

One of the best things about cosplaying is that you can take a design and twist it so many different ways while still having it be accurate! Take the ballgown I’m using for this series. I’m super self conscious about my stomach and arms, and i wanted to prevent the dreaded chub rub on my inner thighs, so I had to do a few things differently.

Looking at the design, It was easy to see where I could handle my stomach insecurities. Shapewear under the dress would help a bit, but by modifying the type of top I was able to use a corsetted top to keep the even silhouette that I was comfortable with at the waist. For my arms I didn’t have to do much. The black sleeves did that naturally. A design choice that drew me to this costume to begin with.

For the chub rub, I realized that the length of the dres plus hoop skirt allowed for me to wear yoga pants and sneakers under the costume without anyone even knowing! Super comfy all day.

Once you have all of that figured out, and you’ve selected your character, it’s time to move on to the next phase… Sewing prep!

Come back here in TWO WEEKS to see my post on pattern selection and sewing prep!

Comment below with your favorite characters that you’ve ever cosplayed!

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