Anime & Manga Cosplay Corner

Closet Cosplay: Is it Really Cosplay?

Closet cosplay is a new fad sweeping across conventions and workplaces alike. It entails people dressing up in clothing found in their closets to create a fun and cute character-inspired outfit. Although the idea is hip and something I would like to try out one day, is it really cosplay?

Blog post by Taylor Boswell

Now, I want to state that I am not taking any credit from the people who are passionate enough to put together an outfit inspired by a character they love. I do think, however, that it’s just different from cosplay and should be denoted as such.

The difference between cosplay and closet cosplay

Closet cosplay is an adorable idea and I enjoy the concept of discretely throwing some nerdiness into a business or other formal setting. The creativity that comes with putting together a look inspired by a character is immense, and to those people with enough fashion sense who can pull this off, kudos to you. I do find it hard to call it cosplay, though, because it’s not really a costume–it’s a character-inspired outfit. 

Here's an example of an outfit for closet cosplay. This could be clothes that you could find in your closet and wear and channel Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service. Photo by Tumblr user CosplayCasually.
Here’s an example of an outfit for closet cosplay. This could be clothes that you could find in your closet and wear and channel Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service. Photo by Tumblr user CosplayCasually.

Why I consider closet cosplay different from cosplay

Some people can create a costume from their closet if it’s simple, and to me, that is cosplay. Yes, the work put into the costume may be minimal with little to no alteration, but they would be recognizable as this certain character. Whereas a character-inspired outfit might go unnoticed to many people–which is fine as long as you like what you’re wearing and you know what you’re trying to convey, then you’re golden!

This would be a character inspired outfit, where she was channeling wonder woman. Photo by Flickr user Elizabeth•Grace
This would be a character inspired outfit, where she was channeling wonder woman. Photo by Flickr user Elizabeth•Grace

For example, if an outfit consisting of blue pants and a red cardigan was inspired by Wonder Woman, then you can spend the whole day going around feeling as strong and powerful as she it, but it most likely wouldn’t get noticed as Wonder Woman themed. I think that term “closet cosplay” used to describe a character-inspired outfit is not exactly correct, and can be somewhat misleading. To me, closet cosplay is more of a simple costume, such as Misty from Pokemon or a noticeable Japanese school girl outfit rather than just picking a color scheme based around a certain character. In one instance you’re actually dressed up as a character and the other is something much more subtle, but still allows you to be creative in a work setting.

There is a difference between putting together a recognizable character from what you have in your closet (what I consider closet cosplay) and putting together an outfit that is inspired by a character (what I would not consider closet cosplay). Either way, I think both spins on digging something out of your closet and putting together something unique is a great way to boost your mood and make life a little more fun.

But ultimately, dress however you want and get your nerd on!

I enjoy the idea of throwing little parts of your nerdy life into your business and formal lives where being a nerd can sometimes be looked down upon. I wish more people did character-inspired outfits and proudly told people that they tried to channel their inner Wonder Woman, or their inner Loki, or their inner Batman. I just can’t find myself ever considering it a costume or cosplay,

Here is a simple cosplay that can be pulled from your closet: blue jean short shorts, red shoes, a yellow crop top, and some red suspenders. Photo by Flicker user Danica Stonhouse.
Here is a simple cosplay that can be pulled from your closet: blue jean short shorts, red shoes, a yellow crop top, and some red suspenders. Photo by Flicker user Danica Stonhouse.

but that’s just my opinion! 

Also, let me once again say that I am not trying to take any credit away from people who have this amazing ability to create an outfit based on a character (I wish I was able to do that). I just think that we should make a distinction between cosplay and a character-inspired dress, but hey, that’s just one girl’s opinion. 

Do what you want and let your nerd flag fly whichever way you want–character-inspired outfit or a full-on costume. Never stop being a nerd.
You can follow Taylor Boswell on Twitter @_RogueCatwoman.

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