Conquering Cosplay: Umbrella Corp. Denver / Tactical Cosplay Gear

This article is dedicated to the coolest of the cool things you can collect. This month isn’t really about something you can collect but of someone you can become. I had the privilege  to speak with Robert Schumann, the founder and event coordinator, of a very special group of folks.

There’s people who wear costumes, there’s people who cosplay and then there’s the Umbrella Corp of Denver group. A couple times a year around Denver you will see a troupe  all dressed in black and tactical gear. All their gear goes together and they are all wearing the same Umbrella Corp insignia. Their presence is menacing but their attitude is awesome! They are some of the most friendly people you will meet at Denver Comic Con or the Denver Zombie crawl.

They were founded in 2011. They do charity events and make any happening into a seriously awesome event. A couple of events they do throughout the year are…

To invite the Umbrella Corp Denver car or team to your event please contact Robert Schuman via


Umbrella Corp tactical outfit

What it is:

One of the coolest cosplay outfits out there and if you are lucky enough and put in the effort, you might become part of the group!

How Much it Costs:

Costs vary depending on what gear you get but here’s an example of how much and where you can purchase such an outfit. (Read at the end of this article for Umbrella Corps of Denver Official list of gear). All prices are close estimates based on internet sites:

511 Black tactical pants: $50

Tactical knee pads $20

Tactical boots $75-130

Airsoft replica AR-15 $60-150

Tactical gloves with knuckle protection $40-60

Tactical elbow pads $20

511 tactical shirt $25

Tactical vest with MOLLE/loop platform $100-180

Sling for rifle: $20

Painters mask: $31

Tactical helmet: Replica $30/Real deal – $400-900

Insignia patches:$10

0-650-511-tactical-pants-black~1 7d6201ccc9d58b9b75db51e885d800b5 0-650-blackhawk-advanced-tactical-knee-pad-v2-black 20070822022518!Bi-3681 837582 41ShqUyrugL._SY300_

Is It Worth It?:

You can put together a similar outfit on a budget. Shop at Goodwill or Ross and you will find many bargains for this stuff:

Black shirt, long sleeve: $5

Black pants: $5

Find the best looking toy military style rifle at Target or goodwill(Might need some black paint): $10

Homemade insignia: Free

Cool sunglasses.: $5

Black surgical mask or bandana: $5-15

Goodwill black shoes or boots: $20

Prices are approximate but pretty close based on my own experience shopping at Goodwill. I shop at Goodwill a lot. 🙂

I can tell being in such an outfit would make you feel like a rockstar. So yeah it’s worth it.

Bottom Line:

What I though was really cool was how they are all treated like celebrities. Dozens of people coming up to get pictures. Every once and a while it’s exciting to feel important and like a celeb.

Info about the group:

Gear and patches used by our members can be found on the links below.


Centurion riot gloves:

Centurion Riot Vest:


We use S10 gas masks or North Safety 7700 Series Half-Face Mask Respirator with North+ P100 Filter Cartridge

All other gear and equipment can either be found on the websites listed above, online, or at your local Army Surplus stores.

Cosplay and Consent: AKA Common Sense and How Not to be a Creeper

Cosplay and consent is always a hot topic during con season. Most people say they totally get it but the sad reality is that they don’t. Cosplay and consent is more than just not grabbing a woman or man in costume inappropriately; it’s about discrimination and simply treating your fellow human beings with respect. The truth is, wearing a costume makes you a target for all sorts of unwelcome attention but in no way is wearing a costume an authorization for such treatment. It may be easy to forget, but behind those amazing costumes you see every year there are real people, just like you and their wearing of a costume does not necessarily mean that they want you to pay all of your attention to them. The likelihood of someone in costume wanting to just go about their day without being bothered is higher than you may realize. There are a lot of situations when Cosplay and consent comes in to play, many of which you may not be aware of. In hopes of having a smarter and more comfortable con season let’s break those down now.

NO Touching: For the love of god, DON’T FREAKING TOUCH COSPLAYERS. This should not need to be said, but year after year there are stories of Cosplayers being assaulted at cons. Think about it this way, if you were walking around the mall and saw a girl in jeans and a t-shirt would you just walk up to her and grab her by the waist? What about at the grocery store? If you see a guy in the produce section are you just going to walk up and start rubbing his stomach? You may be thinking to yourself, “What? No. That would be super weird.” Yeah it would be, and guess what? It still is totally weird even when someone is in costume. Now what if you’re thinking to yourself, “But that’s different. Girls at cons are always showing off their stomachs and cleavage. It’s all part of the fun.” First of all, don’t be a misogynistic dick. Second, many people might argue that part of the fun of going to the pool or the beach is wearing a swimsuit. I hear these days there are even such things as bikinis, which are two pieces and typically show a female’s stomach and tend to reveal more of their breasts than a sweatshirt. If you were at the pool would you just go fondle a girl in a bikini? Probably not, what with the whole societal standards things. So to simplify the whole thing I’ll put it this way: Conventions are a part of our society, therefore the implications of society still apply on the con floor. If you can’t do it to another human at the grocery store you can’t do it to another human at a convention. Do you want to just be grabbed and felt up by a stranger? No? Then knock that shit off and DON’T TOUCH THE COSPLAYERS.

No Touching

ASK to take a picture: This one is pretty important to me. Most cosplayers are very gracious and will pose for a picture with or for you happily. However, if you just start snapping pictures of them while they are walking around you are bound to make them uncomfortable. I don’t enjoy having my picture taken, but you know what I hate even more? Someone trying to take my photo without my consent. What’s even worse is when people just come up and pose next you so they can get their picture taken with you, without your permission. Don’t be a paparazzo, be a freaking person and ASK for a photo. Even more, don’t be an asshole if the cosplayer whose photo you seek declines your invitation. They have the right to say no, and you have to respect that. Don’t then start begging or call them a bitch, just move on.

Pictures Without Permission

Don’t hit on me: Oh you had a huge crush on Hermione growing up and you just LOVE my costume? Cool story bro, move along. Cosplay is NOTHING like fetish play in the bedroom, and regardless of how someone is dressed, it is 100% unacceptable for you to treat it that way. Girls dressed as Wonder Woman and guys dressed as Thor are not doing it for your sexual fantasies, so please do not confuse the people in those costumes for the versions of the characters you dream about. If you see a costume you like because it’s one of your favorite characters too and you want to introduce yourself, get to know the person throughout the day and then maybe see if they’re up for a drink or dinner after the con that is totally fine. But do not simply approach someone in costume, tell them how sexy they look and ask them out. You may be asking yourself why, and it’s as simple as this: Why do you want to go on a date with someone in a costume you think is way hot? Is it because you can tell how compatible you two are and because you always laugh at each other’s jokes? Probably not, since you don’t know each other. Chances are the attraction is 100% physical and the invitation will come with some sexual expectations that a cosplayer does not deserve to be subjected to. Even if your intentions are pure, it is likely to not come off that way without the whole getting to know a person first thing.

Don't Hit On Me

A costume is not an excuse to stare or follow: I don’t think one really needs an explanation. It’s plain and simple; you cannot follow someone around a convention because you like their costume. You can actually get kicked out and even banned for that because it’s a little thing called harassment. Also, you can look and you can respectfully complement someone, but don’t stare. You may just be fascinated and admiring a costume but no matter what, being stared at is super uncomfortable. If you want to look, at least make eye contact and smile, that’s polite. Staring is creepy.

Don't Follow

A costume is not an invitation for you to come and debate my accuracy or debate who I should have dressed as instead: True story – last year at DCC, I Cosplayed as Rogue from the X-Men cartoon in the 90’s. Towards the end of the day some guy (most likely drunk) started yelling “Hey Jean Grey!” at me. He walked over and told me how much he loved Jean Grey, and my costume. I thanked him, but let him know I was actually dressed as Rogue. I even dyed my hair and had stark white chunks in the front. He disagreed, and told me again that I was Jean Grey. I became slightly less polite when I corrected him again and told him I was pretty sure I knew who my costume was modeled after since I made it myself. He accepted, but then told me how much better Jean was and that I should have been her. THAT whole thing right there… yeah, don’t do that. If you see a costume you think could be more accurate or if you see a character you think was SO much better before the reboot, be a big kid and keep that shit to yourself. Cosplayers don’t want to hear your criticisms of their character choice; most people dress as someone because they love that character and criticizing them is just plain hurtful. When you see a costume that you don’t think is authentic enough just remind yourself that you have no idea what that person has gone through to get to that convention in costume. They might be new to cosplay and scared to make something all on their own, or they may have suffered something catastrophic with their well-planned out costume and they had to improvise at the last minute (i.e. when my handmade Star Trek costumes ripped two days before Starfest 2012 and I had to go mostly store bought – I was devastated and being called a “poser” was super hurtful and really unwelcome).

Keep Comments To Yourself

Shit talking – don’t be a hater: When I see the “Cosplay Fail” slideshows on BuzzFeed and similar sites, I just get sad. Laughing at someone’s efforts is cruel. There are not a whole lot of people who want to be made fun of when they are Cosplaying and the ones who are in it for the jokes are pretty obvious to spot. It is important to remember that we are all people in one place because we share a common love of awesome things; don’t be cold-hearted and put down your fellow conventioneers (like Musketeers, it’s a new phrase I’m trying). The same goes for body image shaming. Regardless of your body type and weight, if you feel good in a costume then I guarantee you are rocking it. Don’t be one of the bitches or douchebags that tries to make a plus-sized girl feel ashamed of herself for daring to Cosplay as someone in a revealing or form-fitting costume. And the very same goes for men because they don’t deserve to feel that shame either, you may think you’re super clever with your “Fat Thor” jokes but in reality you are a bully and an asshole. Finally, do not slut shame girls who are in revealing costumes. Guess what? Pop culture hasn’t really given women a whole lot of characters to look up to who aren’t sexualized in one way or another. Do you think Princess Leia is a slut? No? Then chances are the girl dressed in a Slave Leia costume isn’t either. She’s just a human female Cosplayer who doesn’t owe you shit.


And finally, I’m going to turn the tables for a minute and focus on manners for Cosplayers themselves.

Just because you are in costume is not an excuse for you to be a psychopath: Cosplaying is fun, and so is embodying some of the character you are dressed as, but there is a limit. If you are dressed as The Joker and therefore you think it would be fun to run around scaring kids and yelling weird things at people as you walk past them then I hate to break it to you, but you are being kind of a psychopath. If you are dressing up for an excuse to fuck with people anonymously then you are in the wrong place. You also still have to employ normal social graces. For example, last year at DCC a guy dressed as Quark came up to my husband and asked him if I was for sale. He then saw that I was pushing a stroller with my one year old in it and he asked my husband if he could buy both of us. Long story short, we ended up basically having to shove this guy out from in front of us because he refused to break character and accept that I was not going to play along. I kind of doubt whoever the hell that was would have dared ask my husband those questions if he wasn’t disguised by his costume. He may have thought he was being funny, but I did not and I made it very clear. When he refused to drop it and let us move past him he went from being annoying weirdo to psychopath. So just a friendly reminder, if you want to be treated like a normal person when you are in costume then you should still act like a normal person when you are in your costume.

Creepy Cosplayer


Well that about wraps it up. Please keep all of these things in mind as you go to conventions throughout the season and the rest of the year. The most important thing is to remember that we are all human beings who deserve and need to treat others with respect. Let’s set an example at Denver Comic Con this weekend. I want to get through the entire convention with no reports of assault or harassment showing up on the news, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

All images were carefully thought out and drawn by Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe and Adrian Puryear. And they are copyrighted, suckers.

Conquering Cosplay: Jurassic Park

Cosplaying for the first time can be scary. I remember my first time, even though I was going to a relatively big convention that I’d been to before and knew for a fact that a ton of people Cosplayed, I still had this fear that everyone would look at me like I was the weirdo. Either that or I was afraid that my costuming skills would be critiqued, judged, and mocked. As it turns out I was very wrong, and I met a lot of really cool and enthusiastic people, but I still remember the fear and self-consciousness. The sad truth is that that feeling kept me from Cosplaying in public and on non-Halloween days for far longer than it should have. If you find yourself feeling that way now, I have two bits of advice for you: do not ever doubt yourself! Whatever character you are dreaming of being, you do it and I promise you will rock it. Second, if you really feel a lot of anxiety over the situation I’d like to stress how great group Cosplay can be as an introduction to the costuming world.

When you Cosplay in a group you will most likely immediately feel more comfortable. You’ll be surrounded by friends; therefore, the spotlight won’t necessarily be on you which is a huge bonus for the exceptionally awkward, like myself. Not to mention there are a lot of really fun group Cosplay ideas that we don’t see a whole lot of at conventions, many of which don’t require an intimidating amount of skill, which could potentially scare away a first timer. For this month’s edition of Conquering Cosplay I’d like to walk all you lovelies out there through a really easy and fun group Cosplay idea that is sure to impress on minimal time and money.

The crew from the original Jurassic Park.

This is one of my absolute favorites and one I’ve been dying to do for a while now, especially with Jurassic World right around the corner. One great thing about this group Cosplay is it is very customizable depending on your group size. You can make it work with just two people or even eight or ten people. Another benefit is that any and all of these costumes can be made with nothing more than your own clothes and/or a quick trip to the thrift store. This is a really good one for first timers or pros who just love the movies.



Dr. Alan Grant: All you need is a blue denim shirt, khaki pants, and a red bandana tied around your neck. For the extra details you should really try to find an awesome Indiana Jones-esque fedora like the one he had, a brown belt and watch, and some aviator sunglasses. A pair of brown hiking boots will complete the look.


Dr. Ellie Sattler: You’ll need khaki shorts, a purple tank top, and a salmon colored button down collared shirt on top. Just add a brown belt and brown hiking boots and you’re all set.


Dr. Ian Malcolm: This is a really easy one: black pants, black shirt (preferably collared button down), black boots and a black leather coat. To really complete the look you must have sunglasses, to be worn inside and at all times, and a silver watch.


John Hammond: For this one you’ll need all white, a short sleeved white button down shirt, white pants and a straw fedora. The most important element of this costume is the cane, which I would recommend making yourself. You can sculpt the top amber piece out of translucent clay and you can actually buy bamboo poles from hardware stores.


Lex Murphy: Light denim jeans, brown boots, and a purple paisley print tank top – this one is pretty easy except that shirt may be hard to find. Be sure to tie your hair back in a braid too. If you want you can include the doofy baseball cap she is wearing in the beginning of the movie.


Tim Murphy: All you need is khaki shorts, a striped shirt (preferably white, orange and green), a short sleeved light blue or denim shirt and a blue bandana tied around your neck. Tim also has brown hiking boots and a brown belt.


Ray Arnold: Ray’s look kind of changes throughout the movie. At first he is put together with his Jurassic Park lab coat on top of a white with gray pinstripes collared shirt and a tie, with black dress pants and shoes. As time goes by he ditches the coat, undoes his tie and unbuttons hit shirt to reveal a white undershirt. You can really do any variation with this. Just be sure to include glasses if you can, and I’d recommend walking around with a FAKE cigarette to add a nice detail. You can even walk around with a severed arm if you want, as if yours has been ripped off. If it were me, I would totally do that.


Dennis Nedry: Ah yes, the man who ruined it all. Nedry wears a gray polo shirt, gray jacket and khaki pants when it all goes down at the park. This look can be easily substituted for the island garb he wears in the beginning if you prefer. All you need for that is an awesome Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants. Brown shoes and glasses will complete either look.


If you find yourself with a group larger than eight or if you just really want to go all out there are a few more characters you can include if you so desire. There’s Henry Wu (lab scientist in charge of breeding), Robert Muldoon (clever girl) and Donald Gennaro (the blood sucking lawyer).

There are numerous ways you can liven up this group Cosplay if you want to. The person being Lex can carry around a spoon with a fake piece of green jello on it, or a ladle to bang on the ground for distracting dinosaurs. Malcolm can walk around with his shirt unbuttoned as Jeff Goldblum did for a great part of the movie. Dennis Nedry can walk around with Dilophosaurus venom on his face. As I mentioned earlier Ray can walk around with his own severed arm. If you want you can even have a group member dress up as a dinosaur!

The Jurassic Park group is a great introduction to Cosplaying for first timers who are nervous or just not ready to make their own costume yet. All you need for any of these looks are khaki pants or shorts, brown boots and a lot of shirts with that super early 90’s flair. It’s a great way to get into Cosplaying without the anxiety because it is not hard look to pull off and people will love seeing you.

*Fun Fact: This article can easily be turned into a drinking game. Just drink every time you read the word “khaki”. Oh the 90’s…

Conquering Cosplay: Troy and Abed from Community

I of all people know that conquering a costume for your beloved character can seem like a really daunting task. I’ve been making my own costumes for all occasions as long as I can remember and there are still some characters I aspire to recreate but I shudder in the face of intimidation. Because I’ve sometimes been too afraid to overtake the big ones I’ve learned a whole lot about the subtle nuances of more basic costume choices and let me tell you: it’s all about the details.

The details of a cosplay can truly make or break the entire look. A lot of people overlook the small things and focus on the overall “look” and at times it can cause them to miss the character mark. This month I’ve chosen male and female characters that don’t have costumes or trademark armor, but they can be easily recreated if you focus on the details.

Troy and Abed (Community)

It’s no secret that Community is the underappreciated cult hit that everyone (who matters) loves but apparently didn’t watch on network TV. The most popular characters are arguably Troy and Abed who are con going sci-fi loving geeks themselves. In honor of Community staying alive against all odds and premiering this month on Yahoo! Screen, I’ve decided there’s no better detail oriented look to break down for the guys this month.

First things first, and I hate to even address this, but just to be on the safe side I will. Troy is black and Abed is Pakistani, even if you are neither of those races you can still do this cosplay. But you know what you can’t do? Put on makeup to try and look like you are black or Pakistani. That my friends, will most likely come off as super racist (because it is) and you really just shouldn’t do it. True story, my husband had a friend in college who cosplayed as Turk from Scrubs, but as he was a white guy he felt it was only necessary to put himself in blackface and sport that. People apparently still do those things so for the last time, JUST DON’T DO IT. Disclaimer over.

Moving on, Troy and Abed are you’re not so normal but completely average college students, so once again without costumes your cosplay is reliant on your knowledge of the character and attention to detail. The lucky thing about them is that they have a handful of well-known looks that are easy to recreate and will absolutely scream Troy and Abed. The first look I recommend is Troy and Abed in the Morning.

Troy and Abed in the Morning


I’m not sure if you ever noticed, but for every fake episode of Troy and Abed in the Morning they did they wore the same outfits. That’s right, there is your trademark, and all you have to do is go to a thrift store to get what you need and add it to stuff you probably already have. The Troy in your duo will need a purple collared button up shirt, jeans, and a gray blazer. That’s easy enough, right? The Abed will need jeans, a light blue collared button down shirt, a gray bowtie, and a striped (preferably white with blue and gray stripes) cardigan, buttoned up over the shirt. Super easy. There is one key detail that makes this costume what it is, and without it you’re just dudes in duds. You must each have a Troy and Abed in the Morning mug. You can buy these online, or you can make your own. Craft stores have make/paint your own mug kits for like $5, and you can just cut out a picture of each guy’s head and Mod Podge it to the mug. Done and done and AMAZING.

Troy and Abed Paintball

If you want to do something a little different but still iconic you could be Troy and Abed from the first paintball episode, “Modern Warfare”. Once again this is just regular clothes with a few tasty details. For Troy’s look you will need jeans, a blue t-shirt, a blue bandana tied around your head and a pair of science class goggles. For Abed you’ll just need jeans, a brown or green t-shirt, a camouflage jacket or over shirt, and some goggles, preferably circular. *Note: I’ve been told by Steam Punk friends that these can be hard to find. I recommend welder’s goggles or going to a motorcycle shop to find them.

Now for what makes your outfit a costume and not just clothes. Troy is wearing football shoulder pads and an athletic cup. These could be hard to come by without actually going to a sporting goods store and shelling out a good amount of dough. I recommend doing so for the cup, but the shoulder pads would be kind of pricey and they are easy enough to make yourself with foam or even cardboard if you want. The final touch is Troy’s yellow paintball gun. If you want to invest in one you can find those at sporting goods stores as well, but if you’re not an enthusiast of the sport(?) you can pick up a toy gun from a party supply store, a toy store, or online really easily and then just modify it to what you want and make sure you paint it yellow.

Abed has much less armor and a lot more ammo. He has a leg holster for his gun, which once again is easily purchased or made. He has a belt of ammo strapped across his chest, and it is filled with plastic tubes that are filled with paintballs of various colors. I advise making this yourself with either a thick piece of black fabric or a strap of leather and some black elastic. Attach the elastic to the fabric strip or leather so that there are numerous loops that a plastic tube could be pushed into and held in place. This is a really easy one to make with a hot glue gun. For the best look you may want to bite the bullet and actually just by a bunch of paintballs and fill tubes with them. I’m not sure how you could make paintballs, but I suppose you could use marbles if you want to. And finally, Abed’s paintball gun is orange. You can basically just follow the instructions for Troy’s gun on this one.

And there you have it. A couple of low-key but still awesome costumes to try out now that con season is officially upon us. Remember, you don’t have to go above and beyond to look amazing. It is the little specifics of your look that can take you the extra mile. Not every character that deserves tribute has an all identifying look, but everyone has the little things that make them unique. And cosplaying isn’t about being recognized and having your photo taken, it’s about dressing up as someone you love and want to honor. Good luck and costume on my friends!

Conquering Cosplay: Buffy Summers

I of all people know that conquering a costume for your beloved character can seem like a really daunting task. I’ve been making my own costumes for all occasions as long as I can remember and there are still some characters I aspire to recreate but I shudder in the face of intimidation. Because I’ve sometimes been too afraid to overtake the big ones I’ve learned a whole lot about the subtle nuances of more basic costume choices and let me tell you: it’s all about the details.

The details of a cosplay can truly make or break the entire look. A lot of people overlook the small things and focus on the overall “look” and at times it can cause them to miss the character mark. This month I’ve chosen male and female characters that don’t have costumes or trademark armor, but they can be easily recreated if you focus on the details.

Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

It was only a matter of time until I brought this one out. Buffy is my hero and I’ve looked up to her since the tender age of twelve. I figured who better to focus on than one of the most bad ass women EVER in honor of Women’s History Month?!

Buffy Season 4 Promo Head Shot

First thing’s first, Buffy does not have a costume she puts on to fight vampires. She has no cape, no mask, and no “trademark”. Unless you count stakes, which I actually do, so go ahead and make a note of that now. The best place to start with a Buffy Summers cosplay is to decide which version or season you’d like to portray.

If you don’t want to do something so specific and you’d like to be general Buffy, the costume is made by the details. The first step is again to choose your look. Google pictures or re-watch your favorite episode and choose an outfit that’s easy to emulate and really focus on it. Buffy was uber stylish, at least for the late 90’s early 2000’s so really any “stylish” or “trendy” thing would work. In high school she wore a lot of short skirts, in college she wore more knee length ones. She always had blonde hair, although the length varied, and she almost always wore high heeled boots as Sarah Michelle Gellar is a tiny one, at only 5’4”.

Once you’ve chosen your retro stylish duds you can focus on what makes your costume what it is with the details. Buffy frequently wore a silver cross around her neck, this is a must have. If you’re going for a look from the Angel years get yourself a cheap Claddaugh ring to wear. You’ll want to tote a bag around with you for your weapons. I recommend making these yourself since it is easy enough and adds a nice genuine touch. You can get wood, sandpaper, and wood glue at a craft store to make a cross, you can get viles or jars there as well to fill with “holy” water, and if you’re up to the task you can even whittle your own stakes.

Buffy does have some more characteristic looks, for example you could be her from season 3 episode 1 when she ran away from home and was working at a diner and calling herself “Anne”. This would be a nice homage to the series because it is kind of obscure but anyone who watched the show would recognize you immediately.

Buffy in "Anne"

This is also an easy one to recreate. All you would really need is a short sleeved white button down shirt and a knee length white skirt, a red waist length apron or a piece of red material to make an apron, and some red and white checkered fabric to create cuffs and a collar. The costume can be put together easily enough by pairing the shirt with the skirt (obviously) and using the red and white checked fabric in strips and adhering it to the cuffs of the shirt and to the collar. Just tie a red apron around your waist, or easily fashion one from a piece of red fabric and ribbon and you’re just about done. Now the focus is on the lovely little details.

There are two things that make this costume what it is. First, Buffy is known for her blonde hair and when she dons the diner waitress outfit she wears her hair in two braids. For me, this is a must have. If you don’t like wigs (I don’t) and don’t want to color your hair you at least HAVE to sport the two braids. The final detail is the nametag. You have to wear a nametag that says “Anne”. It is Buffy’s middle name, the identity she then gives to Lily, and the title of the episode. It is a must. Without the braids and nametag you’re just a waitress, but with them you’re Buffy Anne Summers.


Conquering Cosplay: The Princess Bride Edition

Conquering Cosplay is a monthly article written by Cosplay enthusiast Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe.  She shares her tips and tricks for Cosplay of various characters in the land of the nerd.

Con season is quickly approaching and if you guys are anything like me, your heads are already spinning with ideas for costumes you want to try out this year. February is Valentine’s Month so in honor of that I wanted to choose one of my favorite couples of all time and share some ideas with you on how to recreate their awesomeness at whatever cons you may be attending this year. Keep in mind you don’t have to have a boyfriend or girlfriend to complete any couple Cosplay, as long as you have a good buddy you can definitely try this out!

The Princess Bride: Westley and Princess Buttercup

They are one of the most romantic and beautiful couples of all time. When I think true love story, I think The Princess Bride. I was raised on the movie, and on more than 100 occasions I would run around in whatever dress I could find pretending to be Princess Buttercup. My Barbie dolls even had to battle R.O.U.S.’s quite frequently. For all these reasons, and the fact that Cary Elwes will be at DCC this year (gasp/swoon/faint/melt), I think there is no better Cosplay to break down for Valentine’s Month than Princess Buttercup and her dear Westley.

Princess Buttercup:

Princess Buttercup in The Princess Bride

I love this Cosplay because not only is it design flexible, but it is pretty easily done. Buttercup has two trademark looks, the orange dress she wears when she is taken by the Dread Pirate Roberts and her wedding dress from the end of the movie.

I think the far more iconographic image of her is the orange dress so I will focus on that one here. First off, you’ll want to Google (or Alta Vista, I don’t discriminate) the hell out of the dress. Study it and decide how you want it to fit you and how much work you want to put into it. For the really easy going Cosplayer, this could be as simple as a thrift store bathrobe with craft store gold ribbon tied around the waist. It’s not the most detailed, but it absolutely works for those short of time or still a little weary to dive in and make their own costume from scratch.

Making your own dress gives you the ability to fit it to yourself and to lovingly add detail where you want it and it is still pretty easy. First off, you’ll want to make a run to your local craft store and pick up the following items:

  • Elastic (and width should do, but at least an inch or more is best)
  • Many needles and orange thread, if you sew. This is a costume that can easily be accomplished with a hot glue gun. If that is your preferred method be sure to get an abundance of glue sticks and still some needles to help pin your fabric in place before adhering it.
  • Orange fabric – there isn’t a determined amount. I recommend getting a little more than you think you’ll need to allow for mistakes. *Note: If fabric is hard to come by consider buying sheets in the color you need. I made a Bride of Frankenstein costume out of curtains I found at a thrift store and they worked perfectly.
  • Thick metallic and/or sparkly gold ribbon, thicker than two inches in width.
  • Orange ribbon to match your material

The next step will be figuring out your fabric measurements. Luckily this dress is pretty easily made with one giant piece of material for the main part, one smaller one for a bodice, two skirt extenders and two smaller pieces for sleeves.

Start with the largest piece of material and imagine how long you will need it to drape to the floor but not trip you. The dress is a V-neck and the way I’ve accomplished the main piece, or frame, in the past is honestly by using a large enough piece of material, folding it two so either side is the length of my body and then cutting a hole to put my head through. This is one of the reasons I like using sheets or curtains; you get a lot of material for cheap, and it’s easy to work with. Cut your head hole so it is a V in the front but round it on the other side so it fits up against the back of your neck well. Think of the Millennium Falcon and cut that shape. If there is an excess of material on your sides, go ahead and trim it down. You want to leave enough that your body is covered completely and its fits kind of like a moo-moo. It’s a flattering look, I know.

Princess Buttercup Dress Frame


You’ll want to take the dress frame off and either sew or glue the open edges together on either side, but only down to the waist. Again, it’s okay if the dress is loose, the bodice will make it form fitting. Once you have that taken care of, set that piece aside for now and start on your bodice.

Princess Buttercup Dress Frame 2

You’ll want it to start underneath your chest and stop approximately at your pelvis. The bodice will be relatively simple, just measure a piece of fabric out and wrap it around your torso. Fit it to yourself how you’ll want it to fit your frame. It should be form fitting but only what you’re comfortable with. The bodice should wrap around you and meet in the center of your back where it will lace up. Cut off any excess material and then fold the piece in half so the ends that will lace up are together. You’ll want to punch holes along the edge (but not too close!) to run the ribbon through to lace up the bodice in the back. You can use a variety of objects to create the holes, scissors, knives, sharp screw drivers, cork screws… anything that will piece the fabric and allow you to make a big enough circular hole to run the ribbon through. If you are using a hot glue gun, and are afraid of the material fraying, you can put a ring of glue around each hole to keep the threading in place.

Princess Buttercup Bodice

Place the bodice aside; it will be the last piece of your costume you put on. Next, cut two pieces of material that run from your waist (or just above where the bodice starts) down to your feet. You’ll want to attach these to the dress frame where the skirt is still open. These pieces will allow more bunching and a more flowing look once the bodice is applied. You can make them as wide or thin as you want, depending on how flow-y you want the skirt to be.

Princess Buttercup Skirt Sides

Finally, you’ll need to add sleeves, and these may be the hardest part. Use pieces of fabric by wrapping them around your arm to get an idea of how you want them to fit. Buttercup’s sleeves are very loose so take care not to make them too tight, but make sure they fit well around your armpits where they will adhere to the dress frame. Make sure the sleeves are long enough to go past your wrists; they should stop approximately at the tip of your middle finger. Seal off each piece of material to create a tube of fabric, and attaché the more fitted end to the dress frame at the armpit.

Princess Buttercup Sleeves

At this point you can either choose to stop and leave your sleeves loose, or you can put in one final detail and use your elastic to fit them to your wrists. Either way you will look amazing! If you want to fit the sleeves you’ll need to cut a piece of elastic in a size that fits your wrist comfortably and doesn’t cut off circulation, then attach the ends together either by sewing them or gluing them. The hardest part now is that you will have to bunch the fabric of the end of your sleeves up so it wraps around the elastic. Do not sew your material to or adhere glue to the elastic, it will no longer be flexible if you do. You need to seal of the fabric above the elastic. Think of a scrunchie (that really ages me, by the way) and how it was fabric bunched around that piece of elastic that made it a hair tie – that is the idea you are going for here.

The final touch here once your dress is all put on is the trademark gold belt. Use your gold ribbon and just tie it around your waist. You will probably need a little help day of to lace up your bodice with the ribbon in the back.

Princess Butter Cup finished product Princess Buttercup Finished Product Back

A few final notes on the costume:

I am a believer that hair style is a very key element to pulling off a costume or missing the mark. On that note, keep in mind that Buttercup has beautiful long blond hair and no bangs. If you are a wig enthusiast be sure to pick up a wig that matches her look. I always like to use my own hair for costumes if I can. I’m part of the school that knows that hair will always grow back, and it can always be dyed. On that note, if you have those long luxurious locks but they’re not the right shade don’t be afraid to dye your hair.

If you are using a fabric that is prone to fray be sure to seal your edges with a hem. Someone once told me that singing material is a great way to seal edges and skip the work of hemming. That ONLY works if you are working with polyester – which is plastic based – and even then it’s risky. DO NOT attempt this method with cotton; that shit goes up in flames. I tried it once and nearly lit my entire room on fire. My sister still will not let me live it down.

Westley, or The Dread Pirate Roberts:

Westley in The Princess Bride

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: sometimes men have it so much easier in the realm of Cosplay. So many elements of their costumes are more easily found at party supply and thrift stores. Westley, is no exception to that.

Things you will need to complete this costume:

  • Black tight fitting pants. Leather is best, but not always easy to find or make yourself.
  • A loose fitting black shirt, with a collar, that can be tucked into your pants.
  • Black boots, not cowboy or hiking, that come up at least to mid-calf length.
  • A black mask that only covers your eyes
  • A black sash to tie around your waist
  • A black sash to tie around your head
  • Black leather gloves
  • A sword, preferably with a decorative handle

One really great thing about the Westley costume is that you can really customize it to your liking. You don’t have to have the head sash, as he does not wear it all the time. If you want to go full Dread Pirate Roberts you’ll want all of the above items, but as the movie progresses, Westley loses many of those items which means if something is hard to find, you can easily go without it. You can easily lose the black leather gloves, the head sash and even the mask if you want. I personally love the post R.O.U.S. battle Westley with the torn shirt and bloody shoulder because it gives me a chance to apply a wound makeup, which I love, and it’s a nice touch of originality.

Most guys own at least one pair of black pants, but you’ll probably want to buy a pair for this costume. You can check thrift stores, but your best bet will probably be some sort of workout pant, something very tight fitting. Westley’s pants have to be tight. Please do not attempt this look with black jeans or Dickies because it won’t look right.

The shirt should be easily found at a thrift store. You’ll want one that is at least one to two sizes too big for you. The top few buttons will need to be left unbuttoned, but of you really want to go the extra mile, I recommend cutting off the top few buttons and poking holes where they were. That way you can run a black string, cord, or even shoe lace through the holes to complete that pirate shirt look.

You can use varying pieces of material for the pirate sash belt and headpiece. You can either buy some at your local craft store or you can find something to cut up at a thrift store. The thrift store option will most likely be cheaper than buying new fabric out right. I often find things at thrift stores for the sole purpose of cutting them up for spare fabric and pieces.

The mask and sword will be easily found at almost any party supply store. Most of them keep costume basics in stock year round, and luckily small black masks and swords are apparently universal necessities for all seasons. If you want your sword to be more unique than a generic store bought one you can always customize the handle. Westley’s sword has a very intricate silver winding around its handle which can be very easily recreated with tin foil. If you want something a step above that, I recommend getting a sturdy but pliable wire and rubber tubing from either a craft or home improvement store. Simply run the wire through the tubing and mold it into the shape you want. Once that’s complete, you can use a metallic acrylic paint or even spray paint to make it silver and then you can attach it to the sword you have either using extra wire or hot glue.

The Princess Bride Prince Westley

And there you have it. For minimal cost and stress you can pay tribute to two of pop culture’s most romantic icons. Keep following Hush Comics to get new Cosplay ideas, breakdowns, and musings each month from me. Next month I’ll be looking at some strong female characters in honor of Women’s History Month and something a little more goofy to pay tribute to the triumphant return of Community.

Do you have any questions, comments or suggestions for costumes you’d like a breakdown of? Leave a comment for me below, or find us on Twitter @hushcomics and me @msmacabre1314.

Images from The Princess Bride belong to 20th Century Fox. All sketches are drawn by Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe and belong to her.

Conquering Cosplay: Tips and Tricks for Daryl Dixon and Sally

Conquering Cosplay is a monthly article written by Cosplay enthusiast Keriann McNamara-McCauliffe.  She shares her tips and tricks for Cosplay of various characters in the land of the nerd.

Halloween is here! It’s the best time of year for any Cosplayer, new or novice to try your hand at Cosplay. It’s also the best time to stock up on supplies you might need throughout the year. Halloween is a great opportunity to try new tricks with makeup and fabrication because luckily if you get it wrong most people won’t notice and you’re all the richer for the experience

Follow along with me here to learn some tips and tricks from someone who’s been in your shoes. I’ve been making my own costumes since I was a kid, and I’ve screwed them up pretty royally at times, but I’ve also learned and created great tips and tricks to look awesome last minute while saving money.

If you are anything like me you probably realized that Halloween is on tomorrow and, holy crap, you don’t have a costume. Maybe you got caught up in work, school, or the return of The Walking Dead. Never fear!

First things first, and in my opinion this is the hardest part, you need to select a character. It can be ANYBODY. If you’re a last minute person this year, don’t select anything too ambitious. There simply isn’t time to buy and mold craft foam or anything involving airbrushing. Think simple but still great. For this article’s sake let’s pretend for the ladies you’re creating a do it yourself Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. For all you guys out there, let’s pretend you’re going to be The Walking Dead’s Daryl Dixon (swoon).


Sally has a lot of little details. Her skin is very white with stitches in it, she wears orange socks, black shoes, and her hair is very red.

For Sally’s skin, don’t use the grease make-up sold at Halloween stores. 1. It will not stay in place and will rub off on you and everyone you hold dear, 2. It’s a pore clogging disaster that is really no fun to get off. Most of them require full on makeup removers which are just more oil. In the past when I’ve needed to change my skin color to look dead or something like that I’ve just gone to my local drug store and bought a cheap foundation and mixed it with color myself. Just look for a shade that will correspond with what you are trying to achieve, typically a lightest ivory white works best. Then, I know this sounds crazy, but look for an eye shadow or blush in the color you’re going for. For Sally, you’ll want a very light purple, white, and maybe some very light greens for accent.

When you’re ready to apply to your skin, or to do a test run, pour some of the foundation on a plastic tray or in a bowl and grind up the eye shadow or blush and start adding it to the foundation. Mix it until you get your desired color and apply to your skin with a makeup sponge or your fingers. This way your skin color will not run when you sweat, it won’t rub off if you touch it, and just regular soap and water will get it off in a jiff. Plus, if you choose a slightly metallic shade it adds a great opaqueness for zombie or dead skin. For the finishing touch of stitches you’ll just need a black eyeliner pencil. You can just draw them on top of your base face color.

For her hair, you have two options: a wig, or hair dye. Many times though, a wig is expensive. One tip I’ve learned in my travels is that food coloring makes a good temporary dye. The application can be very tricky, so I don’t recommend it for all over color, especially with long hair, but if you’re looking for washout streaks food coloring works really well. The easiest way to apply it is with q-tips for very small streaks or a sponge brush for larger pieces or all over color. Food coloring does stain, so take precautions and be careful.

Going to your local costume shop, you can look at the costume that is pre-made for her, and then don’t do that costume… Sally costumes for whatever reason are a solid piece with a print on the front of what looks like sewn together patches, but the back is a solid piece of fabric in bright yellow. For the manufacturer that is cheap and lazy, for someone wanting to do the character just that is a big no-no.

For the Sally costume you can either buy a few garments on the cheap in the right color or pull stuff from your own supply of things you no longer wear. Cut the clothes into large pieces that you will then sew back together. If hand sewing isn’t something you’re totally comfortable with I’d recommend picking up a dress that fits you and then just sewing your costume pieces to it so you don’t have to worry about making something from scratch. As a Cosplayer, you will ALWAYS want to have a hot glue gun and an abundance of glue sticks on hand. If you don’t want to sew anything you can piece what you want together and use glue. For the stitched together look of Sally’s dress you can just glue black yarn in place to give the appearance that your dress was stitched together. Luckily, your stitch job can be as sloppy and lazy as you want and you will only make your outfit look better.

You should look exactly like her now... except don't actually stitch your skin up.
You should look exactly like her now… except don’t actually stitch your skin up.

Daryl Dixon:

Daryl’s details include his bow and arrows, his angel winged vest and his zombie ear necklace. You can also add some wounds to make yourself look beat up.

For a Daryl costume, you could look for a crossbow and arrows that you can paint. You can also find bags of small body parts that people use for decoration at parties. If you can find a bag of ears you can pick them up to make Daryl’s zombie kill ear necklace.

Also, Halloween stores are a great place for FX makeup essentials like silicone and latex, and the do it yourself wound kits they sell are pretty good. I’d recommend stocking up on liquid latex for the year ahead, and if you see any wound kits that interest you go ahead and pick them up because you’ll never know when you need them or just want to test them out for fun. For the Daryl costume you can just pick up general latex wound kit to give your face a little wear and tear. Red food coloring always makes a great blood substitute, especially when paired with liquid latex. The zombie apocalypse is a scary place, after all.

Your final stop will be to a thrift store or your own closet. Look for various items that you can cut up or piece together to get what you need. Daryl is an easy one in this case, a pair of your own jeans and a black shirt will work. You’ll just want to pick up a leather jacket (because a leather vest is probably a lot harder to find) at a thrift store and cut the sleeves off to make it a vest. For his trademark angel wings on the back you can use a variety of things, you can buy patches from a craft store, paint them on yourself if you like, or fashion some from extra fabric and glue them on.

Your costume is together, but it's hard to be as badass as this guy.
Your costume is together, but it’s hard to be as badass as this guy.

When you put all these things together, ta-da! You’ll have a pretty spot on version of your favorite character and you will have done it yourself. Don’t fret if it’s not perfect, at least now you’ve gotten your feet wet, and your next attempt you’ll do even better!

The picture of Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon belongs to AMC.  The picture of Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas belongs to Touchstone Pictures and Skellington Productions Inc.