This is prompted by a family member on a budget, but I think my thoughts are worth sharing. In regards to buying a costume vs commissioning one.
It is more and more acceptable to have costumes than it was 20 years ago. When I started cosplaying, there really was no choice but to make your own costume. Even your Halloween pickings were slim and horrible for the costs they were. If you needed something outside of Halloween, forget it!
Now though, you can get decent costumes very affordably. The costs for these mass produced items for a consumer is about the same as just getting the materials for someone to make, not counting a pattern if one is available. I bought the Injustice 2 Harley Quinn costume because after factoring my costs, time, and ability, this was the most cost efficient to me.
Not counting the corset, Steampunk Harley Quinn easily cost me $100+ in materials and patterns. The costume that I am currently working on I have $70 in materials invested so far. If I didn’t already have a ton of material and notions already, I would be adding in an additional $50. I am also using 3 different patterns with an average cost to me of $10 each, which I already had waiting in my drawer.
This is not counting the time spent. If youve heard the phrase “Time is Money,” this is where its coming from.
If you want an affordable costume, there is no shame in buying it. Im glad that I have the ability to sew simple pieces and can turn the ideas in my head into a reality. I have MANY store bought costumes. Mostly Harley items from Spirit and Hot Topic through the years (long before the Suicide Squad Movie). Only one sucked and only because it wasn’t made for a girl with a butt! LOL I also have Bombshell Batwoman, an Arkham Knight variant Harley, and Suicide Squad Harley from Hot Topic; I have another Harley variant from one of the other Arkham games from Spirit (A corset and skirt. Should be pants, but the skirt is cute.) and Ive used many store bought pieces and turned them into costumes. There also are many overseas shops that have wonderful costumes at very reasonable costs.
If you are looking for something unique, in-depth, or intricate, then by all means commission a seamstress. Be prepared to pay for it.
If you’re looking to compete in a cosplay contest, be prepared to make most of it yourself. Each contest has its own threshold. Ive seen 50-70% self-made as the requirement. Some may require you to have a write-up of what you did and what you used. Check the rules of the particular contest you are thinking of entering.
If you are on a budget, its ok to buy a costume. Its OK to thrift and piece together – close enough is close enough! This is supposed to be fun, not stress you out over the costs.