My first experience with cosplay

Confession: I am a huge fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

I generally love Batman (as evidenced by the number of Batman games there are around here), but those films hold a special place in my heart.

So much so, in fact, that when I heard that the movie theatre in my town was going to have a marathon of them on opening night for The Dark Knight Rises, I had tickets within half an hour.

Batman Begins started at 6:30, The Dark Knight started at 9, and The Dark Knight Rises started exactly at 12 midnight. I got a little squirmy about halfway through the second movie, but the free popcorn helped, and by midnight, I was wide awake and ready for the concluding chapter.

To this day, I remember how excited I was about Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. At that point in my poor, sheltered life, I hadn’t seen Catwoman in a movie yet, and to me, her version was absolute perfection. She was sassy, she was classy, and she knew how to pick a fight.

And her getup, with the ears that rotated down over her face? I thought it was the perfect combination of fashion and function.

When it came time to pick a Halloween costume that year, there was no doubt in my mind who I wanted to be. I wanted the boots, I wanted the mask, and I wanted those rotating ear-goggles.

There was just one problem.

Usually, I rely very heavily on store-bought costumes because although I like to think I’m a creative person, I…have some issues bringing my ideas to life.

They usually don’t turn out well at all, fizzling like the fantasy-fueled fancies they are.

The issue I encountered? Although Catwoman was a hugely popular costume that year, anything you could get from the stores was a cheap knockoff.

In hindsight, I should have realized that would be the case, but I stubbornly convinced myself it wouldn’t be. I bought a costume, but the goggles were just a headband, the mask was a cheap vinyl thing that warped and didn’t stay still, and the boots were just shoe covers.

Sure, eBay had some much more legitimate versions—but on a student budget, I couldn’t afford to shell out $400 just for a mask and ears.

So I decided to get a little creative.

As someone who had never done anything remotely resembling costume design before (unless you count that time I painted a wooden dowel to look like a wand so I could be Hermione), I had no idea where to start with Catwoman’s costume.

I was also pretty limited in the approach I could take; I was living in a student apartment, with no craft supplies, no budget, and no tools whatsoever.

My research led me to a YouTube channel called Romantically Geeky, which had made a video on how to make the very costume I was working on. The approach was actually really easy; all I needed was a headband, a drill, a pair of sunglasses, a Mardi Gras mask, some popsicle sticks, electrical tape, a few nuts and bolts, and scraps of leather.

That was manageable, I thought.

So I went out and got my materials. I called my dad and asked to borrow his drill (which baffled him no small amount, I’m sure). And then, I got down to work.

And I think it turned out pretty well!

I spent three weeks working on my costume. I started with the ears, and although they didn’t turn out looking as professional as the video, I was still happy with them!

(Pardon the super-old and mildly terrible photos)

With my scraps of leather from the local fabric store, my mask ended up being a little more unique, but it definitely got the point across.

I spent the whole day channeling my best Selina Kyle at all my classes (although I don’t think I actually stole anything, so maybe not). I even wore it to work—and let me tell you, ears and masks are not easy to coordinate with hairnets!

That costume actually ended up surviving three more Halloweens, although now it’s a little smooshed and the thigh-high boots I bought to look more legit definitely don’t fit anymore. But just thinking about it makes me think about what else I could try creating!


Have you ever made a costume?

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