Beginner’s Cosplay on a Budget

By Jen P

Have you always wanted to cosplay, but thought it too complicated or pricey?  Maybe you’re worried that your costume will look like crap—that you’re not “crafty” enough. Well, I’m here to ease those fears with a quick tutorial. It’s of one of my favorites and a true classic, Mario.

Cosplay mario

Tallying it up in my head, this look cost around 30$. That was for the overalls and the tank top at Walmart, but you could make this work for even less with items you already have at home. Mario would look just as good with any denim bottom and a plain red shirt. Just add blue suspenders (or rig them out of ribbon and safety pins, which would be hella cheap). Pair the look with work boots, a homemade hat or bow. And add any other Mario-related props you have on hand. I still want to crochet a mushroom or sew a star to tote around. How cute would that be?

If you had to make it from scratch, my Mario outfit was literally this:

20$ Overalls (I wear these now when gardening and/or lounging around the house.)

10$-15$ Red tank (Also an item I wear regularly.)

1$ A Yellow Bandanna (Because I didn’t have giant yellow buttons to sew on and I was too lazy to make them)

25$ Practical flats (But for me, they were free, because they came right out of my shoe stash.)

2$-5$ Bangin’ Red lipstick (I’ve used it many times since.)

1$-5$ A homemade bow (I’ve managed to wear this since as well, but I’m damn proud of my geekiness outside of cosplaying.)


So at full price for everything, the total is:


But don’t let that price scare you. I didn’t spend it all at once, and like I said, I had a lot of the items in my closet already- and you probably will have a lot of what you need on hand already once you decide what your cosplay will be. And if you MUST go out and buy everything new, now you have stuff you can use again for cosplay and more.

Also, there’s something else I didn’t put on the list. My coordinated posse truly made my cosplay sing. My husband made an awesome Luigi, and my kiddos repped modern versions of Princess Peach and Princess Daisy. With the stroller, we were practically a Mario Kart race.

cosplay mario posse

Their outfits were made from stuff we had on hand. You can’t see in the pic, but my little Princess Peach is wearing an “I Love Toad” t-shirt that doesn’t fit me anymore. The crowns I made by cutting up toilet rolls and cluing some fabric and rhinestones to them. Maybe I should do a tutorial… Let me know in the comments.

Grab your friends, make it a group thing. You won’t regret it!

Here are some great links to get you started:

Easy Bow-Making Tutorials– Mix up colors and details for all your character needs.

Crocheted Mario Mushroom

cosplay mushroom

Sew a Star

cosplay star


See, all you need is to tap into that leftover ribbon you’ve been hoarding, add a dash of creativity, and you’re cosplay gold. Now get out there and be fabulous!

Ever cosplayed before? Haven’t yet, but want to try? Hit the comments and tell me all about it! I’d love to hear about your failures and successes alike. It’s fun to dress up!

Later, Geeks!

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