Though a fun hobby for many, cosplaying, as they’ll tell you, can be costly. In today’s article, we share tips on how to make a cosplay without money!


You may never be able to meet your favorite fictional characters, but you sure can dress up as them. For some people, cosplaying is not just a hobby, but also an authentic way to express themselves. There are ways you can start cosplaying with zero budget! Starting from wardrobe items to creative DIY’s, using the supplies at home, here are ten such tips:

Household Items

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way. Although this may seem like a no-brainer, we rarely look closely enough at household items that can be repurposed into something entirely new! Like Giselle’s famous curtain dress in Enchanted, made from anactual curtain! Alright, you don’t have to go that overboard yet, but you get the idea.Old, patterned bedsheets, tablecloths, scarves, etc. help a great deal with dresses.

And, if the items aren’t available at home, you could always ask a friend or family if you can borrow their stuff.

Choose Simple, but Memorable

Now that we’ve covered the general household, it’s time to look at your wardrobe. As the universe would have it, simpler costumes are often the ones that come cheaper and require less effort and fewer resources. It is time to break the notion that only expensive, complicated costumes deserve the medal, as that is not true. A lot of great and famous fictional characters have iconic costumes that would require minimal wardrobe hunting.

Take the example of Number 3 from the show Kids Next Door. As you may remember, especially if you were the 90s or early 2000s kid, her costume only comprises a bright green oversized shirt/jumper, and black legging/pants, topped with sneakers, and maybe a pair of green, ankle-length socks. And most of these items you can easily find in your wardrobe somewhere.

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your wardrobe somewhere
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Velma from Scooby-Doo is another prominent example. All you need is an orange sweater and skirt. And maybe some spectacles and freckle make-up if you are really going all-in.


These are often an expensive item and unfortunately one that people fuss over when starting on cosplaying, probably because they might not know how to make a cosplay without money. But, if you already own a wig, the good news is that you can style it to your fancy with just hairspray and a brush or comb. No need for multiple wigs if you can help it!


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Yet another thing you don’t need to spend your precious cash on jewelry! You can easily DIY them at home. Clay is a good way to go. And for the rest, cardboard will do perfectly. It can be used to make makeshift shields, for example, or even swords if you prefer.

DIY Paint

Another obvious one, but you may undermine the wonders paint can do to transform things! And it doesn’t have to be traditional paint, either, but DIY stuff, too! An excellent tip is to use tea or coffee to stain white clothing in need of a bit of that off-white/cream look.

Another great DIY paint tip is for body coloring. It can be made from ingredients as simple as body lotion and food coloring! Feeling up to a little blue in your life? Well, you could be like Mystique from X-Men or a similar character if you have the right food coloring!

A Little Sharpie Magic

As our article suggests, simple, plainclothes straight from your wardrobe can go a long way into making a memorable, iconic costume. Take, for example, the Camp Half-Blood T-shirt from Percy Jackson. Though it is just an orange tee with a bit of minimalistic print at the front, it wouldn’t be hard for nerds to notice. You could make your own custom Camp Half-Blood shirt, if you have the artistic skills, or have an artsy friend or relative do it! All you would need is a bit of black fabric paint or a Sharpie pen.

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or a Sharpie pen
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The cool thing about minimalistic clothing items is that they can be used again for multiple costumes! Jeans, for example, aren’t a huge deal for most cosplay characters, as they do not only define their unique style. It’s usually the tops that do. Same could be said for some shoes. Boots are mostly similar for a lot of characters out there, so one pair could easily suffice for many cosplays to come. The same goes for undefined jewelry, too. Knowing how to make a cosplay without money would not only save you funds but also the environment, by not promoting fast fashion!


If there are still items that must be bought, you could always look up to thrift stores or online marketplaces like eBay. The same could be said for selling as well. Sell off the items you no longer need, and you may get enough cash to buy yourself something that would prove more useful.

Make friends in Circle

friends in Circle
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As mentioned above, you can borrow the items you don’t own from your friends or family. But what’s even better is borrowing from friends that are also cosplayers! Because who better to know what a cosplayer most needs? They may have a stash of basic items that go on most costumes, and you could benefit from it. It would be mutual, of course, as you will be able to return the favor as well, eventually.

Happy Compromises

Another important thing to keep in mind, when learning how to make a cosplay without money, is that perfection shouldn’t be the goal. The purpose should only be that the character you’re cosplaying as, is identifiable – not to get it precisely right. Don’t stress yourself over the little details. Where the costume is lacking, your personality shall fulfill! Give it your own little twist through your very own, dazzling individuality.

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Bonus Tip – Learn to Sew

I know, I know. For those of you who do not sew or don’t want to at all, this is probably something you don’t want to hear. But the fact is that sewing can save you a lot of money that you couldn’t otherwise. Paying someone else to tailor clothes for you is a real dent in the pocket, as you may know if you have ever got designer outfits. And, it is a lifetime investment. Not only does the skill go hand in hand when it comes to cosplaying and designing your own outfits, but it is also a great life skill to have in general.

You may realize its benefits as you progress in your career in the long run and thus appreciate this advice more.

So, there you have it! Ten tips from pro cosplayers (plus a bonus one) on how to make a cosplay without money and perhaps kick-start your cosplayer dream with no big budget! We really hope that you found at least some of these tips helpful and please do let us know if you end up implementing any!