Buying and Commissioning Cosplays: Tips

Not everybody has the time and skills to make the cosplays that they want to wear at conventions and other events from scratch. But that shouldn’t put people off doing what they want to do and who they want to be.

Sometimes, a little trip to some departmental stores and some self-modifications are enough to help make a desired cosplay. But for the more complex costumes, there are also other options; like buying the entire item from a website online, or even getting a private commission done.

Here are some tips that you may want to think about if you are considering either buying your cosplays or getting them commissioned:

Have reference images ready

Depending on how bothered you are with attention to detail, it’s recommended to have reference photos ready of the front, back and sides of the character before you start searching around for places / people to buy from. There will often be variations in the costumes, so please be mindful of this too as there’s nothing worse than wanting to have one version, but accidentally purchasing a different version.

With regards to commissions, don’t always expect commissioners to know exactly which character you are talking about. I’m no commissioner, but I do know from experience that most of them will want reference photos so that they are sure of exactly what you want (unless they have made a fair few similar outfits before for previous customers). Again, front, back and side views would be the standard photos to send off – sometimes you may be asked to provide a picture with slightly different angle or a close up of certain aspects so that they can see the detail of the clothes / armour / etc.


Make sure that the seller / site / commissioner is reliable. If you’re using a popular site such as EBay, in which sellers are rated on their communication, shipping, item description, etc. it’s easy enough to check their rating and make your own decision before buying from them. With regards to private commissions and other websites, it may be helpful to look them up via search engine to see if there have been many praises / complaints directed towards the site / seller. What may also be beneficial is to get feedback from any of your own friends that have used the site / seller in the past, as you will be able to get a more trustworthy experience from them.

Read the item description

If you are buying your costume from a website, it is always important to make sure you read the item description before you click to buy. Although some photos of the item provided may show a complete costume, the actual item for sale may only be part of said cosplay (for example, only the jacket will be for sale, not the rest of the costume). There is no harm in sending a message to enquire and confirm a list of exactly what you will be receiving when you purchase the costume.

If you are buying a wig, always check to see if it will be pre-styled before being shipped to you. If there is no information to confirm this, message the seller / website and double check, as what can sometimes happen is that the photo provided on the website is actually an illustration of how the wig should be trimmed and styled to look like that particular character – when in reality, you are actually paying for an uncut, un-styled wig.


Most sites and sellers will accept PayPal these days. In which case, you should be protected by their buyer protection plan (but keep in mind that you will only be covered for a limited amount of time). Always make sure that you understand any payment deadlines and “small print” before you accept to buy. Don’t forget to enquire into shipping costs – as well as any potential customs charges that you may acquire if the item is coming from abroad (almost every seller will not be obliged to cover the cost of customs charges that may incur)

Some places may also ask for immediate and full payment before being able to start work on your cosplay.
It may also be worth asking private commissioners if they are able to set up a payment plan for you if you cannot afford to pay for everything straight away (remember, cosplay can be an expensive hobby – especially if you want to wear something complex!).


Always make sure you leave plenty of time for the cosplay to be made and posted to you. Don’t forget that sellers and commissioners will not only be catering for you, but potentially for a great deal of other customers at the same time too. If you are ever in doubt, it is advised that you contact them in advanced of committing yourself to buying the cosplay. Let the seller or commissioner know when you will need the outfit for (give them the dates of the convention as they may not have heard of the actual convention you will be attending – especially if they are overseas). Personally, I set my deadlines a fortnight in advanced of the actual convention – just in case of a postal strike or any similar, unpredictable event that may delay your cosplay arriving on time.

Please remember, that the people that make your costume(s) are human too. So try to be understanding if your cosplay is delayed due to illness or any other personal reasons. Most of the time, they will still try and ship everything out to you on time.

Again, just a reminder that if you have set up some sort of payment plan, some sellers and commissioners may ask for a certain amount or percentage of the total payment to be fulfilled before they begin work on your costume, so do keep this in mind when you try to arrange a deadline as you are responsible for making sure you stick to your payment plan and send them the agreed amount(s) of money on time.


Upon receiving your cosplay, it is always advised that you make sure everything is in order. Don’t leave it too long before you try on your cosplay. Check for any tears or damage to the costume.

If the costume does not fit you, make sure you have supplied them with your correct measurements (you should always make sure your measurements are correct before sending them off to the seller / commissioner). Most sites will have a disclaimer stating that if you have provided incorrect measurements, you will be responsible for any alterations which need to take place after the item has been shipped out.

Check that the item matches the item description provided on the website too. Sometimes, if there have been any issues with sourcing materials, the seller / commissioner may have to find an alternative, similar material (most of the time, they will also contact you to notify you and make sure you are happy with their decision). However, if you find that your costume looks significantly different, you should contact the seller / commissioner as soon as possible to see if things can be rectified. Don’t forget to give them time to respond. Most of the time, they try to work with you in order to rectify things. In the rare case that you are refused any help, don’t forget that you have options to open up cases with bidding sites such as EBay, or go through PayPal in order to have them contact the seller on your behalf in order to help solve the issue.

I hope that the above pointers have been helpful for people looking to buy or commission a costume in the future.

Happy cosplaying! <3

photo © Holly Ferrie

This article was posted in Cosplay


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