7 Ways to Make a Costume Warmer for Winter Conventions or Halloween

7 ways to make your cosplay warmer

Most anime and comic conventions take place in the spring or summer, making lighter costumes with less coverage ideal. However, if you want to cosplay for a winter convention, or even for Halloween, you’ll probably want to make some adjustments to these costumes so you don’t stand around shivering from the cold.

The easiest way to make your costume warmer is by wearing thick undergarments. You can even wear a skin-toned long-sleeved shirt or unitard for costumes that show a little more skin. There are also additions you can make to a costume that can easily add warmth, such as a jacket, boots, and a wig.

If your convention happens to take place in an all-encompassing hotel, you may be able to get away with keeping a big coat in your room and only putting it on when you need to leave for food. However, there have been emergency evacuations before (usually due to a fire alarm) and you don’t want to end up outside with very little on. So consider some of these solutions anyway.

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1.  Wear thick undergarments 

The first thing to think about is what you’re wearing underneath your costume. This can be really useful if you’re wearing thin superhero spandex or other types of thin materials that don’t give you much warmth even if you’re fully covered.

Warm undergarments to wear with your costume include:

  • Wool or fleece-lined tights. Instead of getting thin pantyhose, get a thick pair of tights that will keep your legs warmer. You can get nude-colored tights for costumes where your legs are showing, or wear any color underneath your pants or spandex suit.
  • Thermal undershirt. In addition, you can wear a long-sleeved thermal undershirt to give you an extra layer underneath a thin costume. If it’s particularly cold, you may want to wear two undershirts, one sleeveless and one thermal shirt on top.
  • Extra leggings. Leggings are even thicker than tights and are great if you’re going to be outside for a long time or in particularly cold weather.
jester cosplayer
Whether you’re cosplaying a character with blue skin or just looking to replicate your own skin color, you can use a leotard or nude-colored shirt to help you out. Jester Cosplayer from Otakon 2018.

2. Wear a skin-colored undershirt

If the character you’re cosplaying shows a little more skin, that doesn’t mean you have to head out in the cold and freeze to wear the costume. Dancing leotards or unitards are usually the best way to replicate skin tones and minimize the appearance of the undershirt (We Love Colors has a number of nude colors to choose from). But you can also wear just about any tight shirt that closely matches your skin tone for a similar effect. You can also get nude-colored gloves to help your hands stay warm when the weather is cold.

The shirt or leotard combined with nude-colored tights or leggings will help keep you fully covered when it’s cold outside while also giving you the chance to wear costumes that would otherwise be too cold for winter conventions or Halloween.

3. Use thicker material for the costume

If you’re making your costume yourself, you can choose thicker materials right from the start. Even if the character’s original costume is intended to be somewhat lightweight, you can change the materials as needed to give yourself a warmer cosplay. 

Materials that breathe less, like polyester, are also going to be able to trap heat more easily than natural breather materials, even if it seems lightweight. This is because polyester is basically a plastic fiber that acts somewhat similar to a plastic bag when the fibers are woven tightly together.

4. Keep moving around

As long as you’re not going to be outside for too long, you can use the age-old way of keeping warm by staying in motion and creating your own body heat. Hop from one foot to the other, pace around, or just spin in circles. Whatever you can do to keep moving so your body can maintain some heat.

This is not a good strategy if you’re going to be outside for a long time. But if you’re just waiting in a line or walking a couple of blocks, this can be an effective way of keeping the chill from settling in.

5. Add a jacket to the costume

Consider adding a last-minute jacket, coat, cloak, or cape to the cosplay that you can use to keep you warm. If the character’s normal outfit doesn’t have an outerwear article of clothing, think about what they would wear and design it yourself.

Alternatively, you can cosplay a different version of the character. For example, many anime characters have a summer uniform and a winter uniform. In the same vein, most superhero characters will have their super suit, which may be thin or revealing, but they also have casual outfits that will be easier to turn into a winter-friendly cosplay.

I also recommend paying attention to your footwear. Closed-toed shoes, especially boots, can help trap more heat and help you stay a little warmer.

Maka in the sun
One of my first times comsplaying, I learned that the hard way with one of my first costumes, Maka from Soul Eater, to not wear a coat in the summer.

6. Plan your costumes according to the weather

If you cosplay multiple characters at conventions throughout the year, you can plan which characters to cosplay when based on the weather. Characters that wear coats, capes, and long pants are better suited for winter conventions, whereas the characters in more revealing outfits are excellent for surviving the hot summer convention weather.

Pick winter school uniforms, find costumes with jackets or coats, avoid lightly dressed characters, or find characters that wear gloves. Once I made the mistake of wearing a coat in the middle of summer, I started planning my costumes like this so that I’d naturally be more comfortable in the expected weather. 

wig bangs in front of eyes
A wig acts like a wonderful winter hat when cosplaying in cold weather.

7. Wear a wig

Wigs have a double purpose when you are cosplaying in cold weather. In addition to giving you the perfect, gravity-defying anime hairstyle, they also act as hats. Wigs are great for keeping your head warm. All those layers of plastic fibers prevent heat from escaping, causing the wig to behave just like a thick winter hat.

Bonus: Carry a hot drink around

If you expect you’ll be shivering outside for a long time, you can bring a thermos with a warm drink inside. Some warm coffee, tea, or hot chocolate can help you regain the warmth lost to the weather and it will feel nice in your hands.

You can also carry around hand-warming pouches or place them in pockets or spaces in your costume to help keep you heated. These can add an extra bit of warmth if you’re going to be outside for more than 15 minutes or so.

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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