5 Things to Do With Your Old Cosplays

how to get rid of your old cosplays

If you’ve been cosplaying long enough, you will inevitably run into the problem of too many costumes with too little storage space. It came to the point where I felt like I had more cosplay than actual clothing in my closet. But costumes can be difficult to get rid of. Not only do they have sentimental value, but they are also not typical clothes that might be easier to give away as hand-me-downs.

Old cosplays can be sold or donated just like any other kind of used clothing. You can also reuse parts of your costumes in future projects or even wear pieces for your everyday outfits. Any components that can’t be reused or given to someone else will have to be tossed or recycled.

It’s also important to note that you don’t have to give up your old cosplays. If you still have an attachment to the costume or think you might wear it in the future, there is no reason to get rid of it. We’ll also decide how to determine which cosplays you want to keep and which you want to get rid of when the time comes to clear up space in your closet.

maka from soul eater
One of the first costumes I ever wore was Maka from Soul Eater. I retired the costume and sold the jacket, but added the skirt to my everyday clothing.

1. Reuse parts of your cosplay in new projects

The first way to cut down on the amount of storage space your costume is taking up is to use some pieces for multiple cosplays. You can use the same short blue wig for any number of different cosplays, no need to take up space storing similar wigs for different costumes. 

Similarly, you can use many basic shirts, pants, belts, gloves, shoes, and so on for multiple different cosplays. In fact, I’ve used many costume pieces as normal, everyday clothing. The skirt from my Maka (Soul Eater) cosplay, for example, got moved in with my regular clothes after I retired the cosplay, and the white shirt was used for many different uniform cosplays.

cosplay storage bin
I like to partition my storage bins with small boxes to that I can keep all the pieces of the same costume together.

2. Use storage space efficiently

Before getting rid of your costume, you can also make some changes to use the storage space more efficiently. Outfits that don’t need to be hung up can be neatly folded and stored in vacuum-sealed containers to take up as little space as possible.

I also use large stackable storage bins to take up less space and keep my cosplay pieces together. I partition the inside with cardboard pieces and shoeboxes to keep everything in one place while also using the entirety of the storage box. Then I can simply stack the boxes 3 or 4 high to keep store everything without taking up too much space.

Most wigs can be carefully wrapped in their original hair net and placed back into the original plastic bag without ruining the style. Then they can easily be stored relatively flat with the rest of the costume. Tall props can be kept together in an umbrella stand to keep them from falling over everywhere.

ranka from Macross Frontier
Ranka from Macross Frontier was a popular character for a long time so it was easy to resell the costume. You may have more trouble with lesser known costumes and characters.

3. Sell your costume to other cosplayers

One way that you can get rid of an old cosplay while also making a little money is by selling your costumes. I’ve sold some of my costumes, like my old Ranka from Macross Frontier, using Storenvy. Many people will also use platforms like the Facebook marketplace and eBay to get rid of the costumes they won’t wear anymore.

There are some drawbacks to this option, however. You will still have to keep your costume in storage until it is sold, so you won’t be able to immediately free up storage space. It can also take some time to measure and photograph your cosplays to create a listing online, especially if you plan on selling a lot of your old costumes. 

You also need to make sure to wash your costumes before selling them and keep them free of pet hair and major wrinkles. Any damaged or stained areas should be noted in the description on the listing for the product.

If you can’t sell online, see if any friends or acquaintances would want to purchase the costume for a discounted price. You can, of course, just give it away to a friend if you want to make sure it will go to someone who will treasure it.

There is also the possibility that you’ll go through the trouble of putting your costume up online, and no one buys it. Old costumes from characters that are no longer popular are a lot less likely to be purchased by anyone. 

4. Donate costumes to thrift stores

As long as your costume is in good condition, there is nothing wrong with donating it to a charity or thrift store. While you won’t be making any money off the costume, it’s an easy way to pack your old outfits in boxes and clear up some storage space quickly.

Many costume pieces, including uniform jackets, skirts, and dresses, aren’t actually so different from everyday clothing. Just because you wore it for a costume doesn’t mean it has to be sold that way at thrift stores, so they can still be helpful donations.

If you have a costume of a popular character, you can also donate that, especially characters that are well-known among the public of the country you live in. Spiderman, Wonder Woman, and other superhero characters are well known enough that they can be sold in thrift stores. Other types of costumes, like Pokemon Kigurumi, are also popular enough to be a valuable donation to your local charity shop.

Just be sure to wash any costume pieces that you donate and inspect them for rips and tears. If the clothing is not in good condition, it will likely just be thrown out and deemed as unsellable.

5. Toss or recycle the costume

If you cannot sell the costume or give it away, the only option left is to throw it away. If you still have sentimental feelings for the ensemble, this can be very difficult to do. Don’t feel like you need to make the choice right away. If I feel anxious about tossing an old cosplay even though I know I won’t wear it again, I’ll put it on one more time and take pictures so that I have one last memory with the costume. 

It’s also a good idea to see if you have any recycling options available for your cosplay. There are some places available that have collection bins to recycle fabric items. Additionally, anything metal can typically be brought to a recycling location and added to the scrap metal heap. Most plastic and painted props, however, are not recyclable and will need to be thrown out with the rest of the trash.

When to get rid of your cosplay

Deciding to get rid of an old costume is a hard decision sometimes. You put a lot of time and work into creating your pieces, not to mention the memories and fun times you’ve spent wearing the costume. But if you continue to make new cosplays, eventually, you’re going to need to say goodbye to your old ones.

It might be time to get rid of your cosplay if:

  • You ran out of storage space. If you have no more room to keep your costumes, you have to get rid of something. Otherwise, you’ll have to start paying for a storage unit every month!
  • It no longer fits you. There have been several costumes I’ve come back to years after making them only to find that they are too small for me. 
  • It’s ripped or in need of repairs. Sometimes I plan on making repairs to my cosplays and keep putting them off year after year. Eventually, I have to admit to myself that I’m never going to fix it and would be better off without it taking up space in my closet.
  • You no longer care about the character. One of the best parts about cosplaying is being able to show off your love for your favorite characters, but our interests change over time. If you’re no longer invested in the character or series, it might be time to get rid of the costume.
  • It no longer meets your standards. As you get better at creating costumes, you’ll find that your older cosplays no longer measure up to your new abilities. It may even get to the point where you are embarrassed to wear them. In these cases, it may be better to get rid of the old costumes to make room for the new and better ones you’re making.
izzy from Digimon
Even though it’s a super simple costume, I like to keep Izzy from Digimon because it’s comfortable and easy for a lazy Sunday at the convention.

When to keep your cosplay

On the other hand, you don’t always have to give up your costume just because it’s old. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever wear it again, a beloved cosplay can always take up space in your closet.

How to know you should definitely keep your cosplay?

  • You love it! If your costume holds special meaning to you, there is no need to give it up, even if you don’t think you’ll ever wear it again.
  • You plan to wear it again. Sometimes you’re not sure if you’re ready to retire a costume. It might be an excellent costume for a casual Sunday at a convention or a popular character that can bring back feelings of nostalgia when you wear it five years from now.
  • You can use parts of it in future cosplay projects. If you’re planning a second costume for the same character or have a new cosplay ready that can use pieces of an old one, you may as well keep it to reuse what you can.
  • Keep usable pieces. In general, it’s a good idea to keep components like generic wigs, shoes, belts, cloaks, gloves, and anything that you can easily use for other projects. Even if you don’t have anything planned just yet, it’s a good idea to hold onto these pieces.

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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