It’s no secret that cosplay can get expensive. Between the costume itself, wigs and accessories, makeup, and props, you might find that dressing up as your favorite character costs more than you’re willing to spend… or perhaps your craft skills aren’t up to snuff.
But there’s good news! Not every iconic character has an overly complicated outfit or design. Here are several low-budget cosplay ideas that are easy to put together and don’t cost much.
1. L (Death Note)
We had to kick this list off with L, just because he’s everyone’s favorite “lazy” cosplay option. All you need is a white long-sleeve shirt, a pair of jeans, and a short black wig (unless you’ve already got the hair).
The fact that he’s such a popular character works both in and against your favor: nearly every anime fan will know who you are, but you definitely won’t be the only L in the building.
But let’s get to the real reason why everyone wants to be L: you get a free pass to roam around the convention venue, eating as many sweets as you want. It’s in-character, after all!
2. Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Kiki is one of Studio Ghibli’s most recognizable characters. Solid-color vintage dresses may not be super common anymore, but that’s why we hit up thrift stores! You’d be surprised what clothing items you can find that’d be useful for cosplay.
But if Kiki’s dress is still too difficult to find, you could always pair a navy blue shirt with a navy blue skirt. No one would be able to tell the difference unless they came up close.
As for the hair accessory, it isn’t too difficult to make if you don’t want to buy one. Get yourself some wide red ribbon (a lot of it!), tie it into shape, then stick it onto a headband.
3. Mario & Luigi (Super Mario Bros)
Despite the fact that they’ve got moustaches, Mario and Luigi are some of the most popular cosplay choices ever. Why? Because once you’ve got a pair of overalls, you’re already halfway there.
For Mario, you just need a red long-sleeve shirt under the overalls and a red cap on your head. It’s the exact same for Luigi, except in green. Your footwear should be brown boots, although some cosplayers opt for shoes that match their character’s signature color.
Finally, print the letter “M” or “L” in a white circle on your cap and you’re ready to save the princess!
4. Misty (Pokemon)
Ash’s first female companion on his journey to becoming a Pokemon Master, Misty, wears a pretty basic outfit: plain yellow cropped tank-top, denim shorts, and red suspenders.
She’s a great choice for beginner cosplayers because even if you can’t get an orange wig, just tying your hair back into a ponytail will work just fine (optionally, use temporary spray-on hair color).
A red backpack, a Togepi plushie in your arms, and some Poke Balls would tie everything together, but they aren’t necessary.
5. Steven (Steven Universe)
You only need a pink t-shirt, blue jeans, and flip-flops to dress up as the leading boy from Steven Universe. As for your hair? Curl it into poofs or wear a moderately bushy wig.
There are many different ways you could go about the giant star on the front of Steven’s tee. You could get the design printed, paint it on yourself with textile paint, or use an iron-on decal/sticker.
Bonus points if your shirt doesn’t fit you quite right and your belly button (or, if you’re that dedicated, pink diamond) shows every time you lift your arms.
6. Velma Dinkley (Scooby-Doo)
Mystery Incorporated would never close a single case if it weren’t for the one and only Velma Dinkley. Hidden under her brown bob and thick-rimmed black glasses is the brain of the group.
You’ll obviously need an orange turtleneck—the baggier the sleeves, the better. Pair it with matching orange knee socks, a short red pleated skirt, and some Mary Janes.
To really sell the character, walk around with a mystery book in hand. Don’t be afraid to use a wide makeup brush and brown eyeshadow to flick on some faux freckles, either!
7. Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece)
Isn’t it great that one of the most recognizable characters in modern anime has such a simple style?
Luffy’s typical wardrobe is composed of five things: a straw hat, a red button-down shirt, denim capris, a yellow scarf (used as a belt), and sandals. Nothing too crazy.
The scar on his chest is the most difficult part of his look to replicate. Thankfully, there are a lot of great step-by-step YouTube tutorials that explain how to fake skin markings using makeup.
8. No Face (Spirited Away)
When cosplaying as a normal human character in an ordinary outfit, there’s always a chance that people will mistakenly think that you aren’t even wearing a costume in the first place.
Which is why we had to close this list out with No Face. Not only is his costume easy to make, but even if someone has never seen Spirited Away, they’ll take one look at you and know that you’re dressed up as something.
And the best part? You’ll spend next to nothing on the costume. All you really need is a black bedsheet and a mask made out of a paper plate. Anything more than that is icing on the cake.