Costumes vs Cosplay: What’s The Difference?

While costumes and cosplay may seem like the same thing at first glance, there are some important differences between the two.

They’re both great for their own purposes, but they also both have little flaws which we are going to talk about in this article.

We are also going to compare the pros and cons of costumes vs cosplay to help you get a better understanding which is best for you. 

What’s The Difference Between Cosplay and Costumes?

The main difference between cosplay and costumes is that cosplay outfits are generally heavier and feel more real. They take a lot much longer time to make, while costumes can be bought from a shop and be worn the next day.

However, it does not mean that costumes don’t have their place though, because not everyone is into Cosplay.

The official definition of Cosplay is “the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime.”

Because of the number of meanings costume has, it’s a little harder to find an official definition. However, costumes are usually used to dress up as anything really and are a lot more common as you’ll find them in your local shops like Walmart.

Pros & Cons of Costumes

To help you get a better understanding of when costumes could be the right fit, let’s take a look at some pros and cons of them.


The main benefit of costumes is that they are much easier to store, make, and also are a lot cheaper.

With this also comes that they are much more child-friendly which of course, is a big reason why they are often used at events such as Halloween. It’s also less time consuming to make or purchase costumes compared to cosplay.

In short, here are the main advantages of costumes:

  • Not time-consuming
  • Cheap
  • Easy to store
  • Child-friendly


Just like everything, costumes also have their cons. With the cheap price, also comes a lower quality of material and they also feel less real. For instance, most of the material you will get with costumes will be plastic.

This means costumes can often easily break and will also feel a little more gimmicky rather than real. It also lacks in the community aspect that cosplay has and making them isn’t nearly as fun. Additionally, you don’t get the special feeling of making your own cosplay character or outfit, so that’s a big con too.

In short, here are the main disadvantages of costumes:

  • Can easily break
  • Don’t feel real
  • No Community
  • Less fun

Pros & Cons of Cosplay

Compared to costumes, cosplay is a little more popular with an older audience, usually ranging from teens to older adults. According to a study, the average age of cosplayers is 28.4 years old, but no participants over the age of 50 took part in this study.

This means the average age may even be a little higher. The pros and cons reflect this, as cosplay is more of a hobby instead of just a one-night thing that’s quickly over and done with. 


Cosplay just gives you a little more of a special feel. 

You have outfits of characters that you have made yourself using high-density EVA foam or moldable foam clay. The whole process starting with the making of the outfit shows you that this outfit is for a big occasion.

The material also has a much higher quality and it doesn’t feel like you are just wearing a piece of plastic. Your impression of the character feels accurate and that’s why many cosplayers often say that they feel like the character they are cosplaying. 

With Cosplay also comes a community of other cosplayers that have the same amount of interest and see it as a hobby. On the flip side, most people who purchase costumes purchase them for one night and then forget about it, or even throw the costumes away.

There just isn’t the same amount of interest in costumes as there is with cosplay. 

If everybody would go to events like New York Comic Con with little cheap costumes they bought from Walmart, it wouldn’t have the same magical feeling that it has. 

In short, here are the main advantages of Cosplay:

  • Higher-quality material
  • Outfits of characters that look and feel real
  • Community 
  • Better suited for teens & adults 
  • More fun creating the costumes


One of the main cons of cosplay is that it’s time-consuming. However, most cosplayers would not see this as a con, as they enjoy the entire process of making the outfit and wearing it.

Other than that, it’s just not suited for children and a little more expensive. But, because of the higher quality of materials that is to be expected, as this is what allows the cosplayers to make themselves look and feel like real characters.

The main disadvantages are:

  • More time-consuming
  • Higher cost
  • Not child-friendly

That being said, if you are interested in cosplay, the time-consuming part would be more of a pro, as making the costumes is so fun.

Final Verdict

Both Cosplay and costumes have their own use.

Costumes are a great option for the people who aren’t into cosplay and just want a quick and easy solution for one or two nights. On the other hand, Cosplay is a real hobby where you won’t just feel and look like the real characters, but instead, you will also be in touch with a community of other characters that have the same interests as you.

When creating cosplay characters, the build-up and the creation of the outfit is also fun and gives it that special feel.