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Costumes on a Budget – Lessons from Comicpalooza 2014

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If you want to know how my addiction to Comicpalooza started, please check out my posts about Comicpalooza 2012 and Comicpalooza 2013.  This year was a blast once again!  In case you haven’t heard of comic conventions, Comicpalooza is one that takes place Memorial Day weekend of every year in Houston, TX.  It’s a superb geek fest that I just relish like a great vacation.  I may write out all of the details for you like usual within the next few days, but right now, I want to skip to the info that may help you in some direct way – making costumes on a budget.

Pirate Costume on a Budget

I wanted to wear something extremely comfortable on Friday since that is when we walk around the most and get the lay of the land.  That said, I still wanted to wear something fun.  Hence this pirate outfit, which got way more compliments than expected!  People seemed to like it more than my Black Widow costume on Saturday, lol.

Pirate Costume - $0
Daleks like pirates with boobs…

Altogether, this outfit actually didn’t cost me anything for this event since I actually owned everything already except for the pirate hat, which I borrowed from one of my awesome roommates, H.  If you did need to throw this together and you didn’t already have everything, this is how I first found the pieces:

  • Pirate hat – I borrowed this one (probably was about $50 when H bought it 10 years ago since it is a real hat), but I see several solid options on Amazon and Ebay for around $15.  There are even some $5 party-hat options that would work fine.
  • Shirt with Poet Sleeves – This peach one was $4 from the resale shop a mile from my house.  It was one of the 6 new shirts I bought last year, yet I hadn’t worn it yet since it was a little low-cut for me.  Thank you Dee for convincing me to buy it.  😉
  • Corset – I inherited this black one from an ex-roommate, but it cost $25 about 3 years ago.  You can find new costume corsets on sale after Halloween for $20.  You can also look on Craigslist around the same time as cosplay events, Halloween, and renaissance festivals for lightly used, high quality ones for $40-$50.  Here’s a $13 Pirate Vest.
  • Dark blue jeans or black pants – I bought these jeans from that resale shop last year for $7.
  • I’m also wearing a normal belt, socks, tennis shoes, and a basic push-up bra.  I’ve owned all of those things for 3+ years and think they cost me $50 altogether (I like resale shops and Payless shoes).
  • I’m wearing my normal makeup too.

I just took a look at my closet and through this together in 5 minutes thanks to my other roommate’s help – thanks, Mandy!  First rule of costuming on a budget – see what you already have and think outside of the box.  🙂

Black Widow Costume on a Budget

This costume was the main one that I planned for this year, so I did spend $58 on stuff that I didn’t have yet.

Black Widow Costume - $58
That’s the Supernatural car behind me…

Okay, so you could buy an inexpensive, short term use costume for the Black Widow for $38 on Amazon.  I almost did.  But I knew I was going to use the cat suit for another costume or two and I wanted to make a complete look that I could add to as I went.  So, here’s what I did:

  • Catsuit – I bought a $28 one off of Amazon, Leg Avenue Costumes Wet Look Zipper Front Cat Suit.
  • Avengers Belt – That’s a $3 thrift store belt that my roommate, H, donated and we turned it into the Avengers belt with a red Solo cup, super glue, and a little red and black nail polish (the 80 cent little bottles, lol).  We already had all of that stuff on hand, but you can budget for $6.
  • Utility Belt – That was $7.50 off of Amazon and I borrowed some pouches from H again.  Here’s the belt itself, UTG Heavy Duty Web Belt – Black.  You can make the pouches pretty easily or find them at garage sales, resale shops, or new online for less than $5 each.

Belt First PartFinishing the Belt

  • Bullet Bracelets – I bought this costume bullet belt for $8, Military Bullet Belt : Plastic Toy Ammo Bandoleer Army Costume Accessory, and then spray painted the bracelets black.  The spray paint also kept the bullets from slipping out.
  • Black Boots – I borrowed these from my friend, Isabelle, but I also found similar pairs (not as high quality but fine for costumes) at my favorite thrift store for $15.
  • You can’t see the $15 Flexees undergarment, the push-up bra again, or the shadowy eye makeup that Mandy did for me.

Cat Woman Costume on a Budget

Cat Woman Costume - $13
This was the most popular…I wonder why…

This is another great example of using what you already have:

  • Same catsuit
  • Same utility belt
  • Same boots
  • Same black nail polish
  • $13 cat woman cowel from a costume place near my house (or this cooler one for $16)
  • Borrowed collar from Mandy.
  • Borrowed fake whip from Mandy.
  • Same Flexees (Spanx) and push-up bra.

Mandy does the costuming for a Rocky Horror Picture group, hence the interesting accessories and costume makeup that she has.  😉

Altogether, I spent about $70 this year and filled in the blanks through things my friends or I already owned.  I think that’s more than acceptable for 2 great comic character outfits plus a cute pirate.  And my roommates seemed to have fun dressing me up, LOL.  Mandy donated an hour of her time to my hair and makeup Saturday and Sunday morning – she’s so sweet.  I’m thinking of thank you gifts already.  🙂

What sort of costumes have you done on a low budget?

Mix and match DIY costumes on a budget. There are a ton of awesome cosplay ideas in here that use the same bases to create totally new looks for every event. They would be excellent for Halloween, too. Bring on Comicon!

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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4 thoughts on “Costumes on a Budget – Lessons from Comicpalooza 2014

  1. Those are some cool costumes! The only costume I have done on a budget is probably my wrestling outfit. The boots were the most expensive part because you can’t get out of that. For the trunks, I bought MMA-style shorts instead of getting the classical tights.

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