Your creativity is only contained by the limits of your imagination. As infinite as the sky above, our minds can create worlds and fantasies beyond our wildest dreams. Through tales, we explore magical realms, foreign lands, and extraordinary people. Tales that capture our hearts allow us to fall in love with these stories and the characters they describe.
In ancient times, many cultures celebrated their most cherished stories of myths, legends, gods, and goddesses. Through festivals like the Carnival of Binche, attendees honored old traditions by adorning costumes of folklore characters. More recently, we have adapted these century-old traditions to suit the modern day through a practice known as cosplay.
Most generally, cosplay can be extravagant, costly, and not suitable for your day-to-day activities. Fortunately, a new style of cosplay has grown in popularity to help you celebrate your favorite fictional stories and characters in a more subtle and personal way – we call it casual cosplay.
Here we will reflect on this new form of cosplay and why it is so popular. We’ve also lovingly gathered a short list of tips to help you explore your boundless creativity in your daily life through casual cosplay.
What Is Cosplay?
Traditional cosplay, put quite simply, is the practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction – including books, graphic novels, comics, animes, video games, or television shows and movies.
In fact, the name itself was crafted from the combination of “costume” and “play”. Cosplaying allows one to step out of mundane life and into a world of fantasy, walking in the shoes of their favorite character (almost literally).
At its most serious, cosplayers can spend days to months creating almost perfect replications of even the most complicated costumes. Many costumes are even made by hand, meaning that the most dedicated cosplayers have mastered a variety of skills ranging all the way from executing makeup and fabric sewing to fabrication and robotics.
What Is Casual Cosplay?
A young evolution of cosplay, casual cosplay is a term used to describe the act of crafting an “everyday” outfit that draws inspiration from a fictional character. As opposed to traditional cosplay, which is intended to be a perfect replica of a character, casual cosplay is intentionally discreet and almost undetectable.
Often, a casual cosplay will take color and basic design choices from a character and morph into an outfit that can be worn in daily life — at school or work and beyond. Casual cosplay can be a magical self-love practice because it is almost like a secret between you and yourself.
It is even more special when you meet someone else who recognizes your disguised design and can share in your passion for the cosplay practice and for the character and story. Small design elements like kawaii jewelry can bring your love for your fandom to subtle new heights.
Why Is Casual Cosplay Popular?
Casual cosplay is popular for an incredible variety of reasons. One of the strongest reasons it has been embraced so wholeheartedly is that it makes cosplay accessible to everyone. Cosplay in its most accentuated form can be expensive and time-consuming.
Casual cosplay can be created using clothes you already have in your closet, a few new accessories, and the creative vision that lives within your own beautiful mind.
Another reason it is so loved is that casual cosplay allows those who are new to the world of cosplay to dip their toes in the water. The cosplay community is diverse and incredibly welcoming but can be overwhelming for those new to the scene due to its size. Casual cosplay allows you to practice adopting the design and aesthetic of your favorite characters in a simple way before committing to a full-scale costume.
4 Tips for Casual Cosplay
Comfort Over Accuracy
Casual cosplay is not intended to be photo accurate but instead energetically and stylistically influenced by and adapted from a character design. The most important part of your outfit is that you feel comfortable and confident in the clothes you are wearing. Only then will you be able to fully embrace the character you love so much.
The Sky's the Limit
Cosplay can be quite fantastical, but casual cosplay may even seem more intimidating because of how open-ended it is. With no constrictions to look perfectly like a character, you can stretch your creativity even further beyond normal cosplay. The only thing standing in your way is your own imagination.
Who says clothes are the only thing in your arsenal? Maybe you embrace your character only through makeup design or your hairstyle. Perhaps your anime-inspired accessories can channel an exotic world outside of your own.
See how creative you can be in discreetly crafting a casual cosplay look in ways most wouldn’t think to try. The possibilities are endless.
Embrace Community Through Social Media
Cosplay has been a cornerstone of fandoms for decades and casual cosplay has been rapidly gaining popularity with the growth of social media over the past twenty years. The cosplay community certainly has strength and wisdom in its numbers and rich history, and they are always more than happy to welcome young creatives with open arms.
One of the best ways to introduce yourself to the world of cosplay and meet new friends who share your passion for stories and character creations is through social media. You can even make a separate profile specifically to document your creative designs and communicate with others in the cosplay community. Following other creatives is a great way to get inspiration and learn from experienced practitioners.
Channel Your Character’s Best Traits
Casual cosplay is not just a way to pay tribute to your favorite stories and characters but also a chance to embrace the confidence and characteristics that you most admire in your fictional heroes.
You might idolize a character for their bravery, intelligence, resilience, optimism, or kindness. Wearing clothes designed through the lens of this character can help you manifest these beloved traits in yourself and your own life.
A Deeper Connection
Cosplay is a way through which we can celebrate and live our favorite stories. It is a way of connecting deeper with characters who resonate with our personas and align with our souls. We might even use characters as a way to define ourselves and grow as human beings.
Cosplay is a way to exercise our creativity and recognize our passions. Our passions give us purpose and in return, we breathe life into our creations.