Dare to Dream

If you could be any character from a book, movie, or play, who would choose? If I were to ponder my favorite characters, I doubt I could narrow it down to just one. There are so many from which to choose. I find my favorite characters are usually those who dwell in the nineteenth century. Because I adore the 1800s, I often dress in clothing that is reminiscent of this particular century. (If you ever see me wearing my favorite prairie dresses while I work at the front desk of the Salina Public Library, that is why). Dressing like a favorite character (what is sometimes called cosplaying) is more popular than ever, thanks to fun events like Comic Cons, Renaissance festivals, steampunk days, and even social media movements like Tik Tok. I would dare say, dressing up in character costumes (or, as this article will show, clothing) is not just for kids anymore. Dressing like a favorite character is for anyone who enjoys imagination and creativity. Who wouldn’t want to escape into a favorite book, movie, or even historical time period once in a while? Let’s take a few minutes to discuss how to dress like a favorite character. If you can dare to dream, join me on this journey.

Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Dress Up

Speaking of dreaming of different eras (or, perhaps dimensions), I remember the day a few years ago when my family and I attended our first Comic Con event. Let me preface this by saying we are Whovians (for non-Whovians, that is, fans of the British sci-fi TV series Dr. Who). Therefore, for our first-ever Comic Con, my sons and I decided to dress as some favorite characters from Dr. Who. My older son loves the classic Dr. Who episodes with Tom Baker in the title role. He put on his trench coat and, of course, a nine-foot striped scarf. He was set. My younger son is a fan of Christopher Eccleston. He donned his leather jacket and jeans. They added in the sonic screwdrivers they had gotten as Christmas gifts, and they were Tardis-ready. 

My costume was a bit more – um – complicated. I decided to go as a character known as a weeping angel. For those who do not know, weeping angels are just what they sound like – concrete weeping angels that we often see in cemeteries or graveyards. (Of course, in true Dr. Who style, the weeping angels are aliens disguised as something so sweet and innocuous, when, in reality, they are a bit more detrimental). Thus came my dilemma. How was I to dress as a weeping angel? 

I have mentioned in a previous blog post that I am the least crafty person I know. It’s a good thing I have a crafty sister who took charge of this costume. Using gray acrylic paint, she painted to look like concrete a dress I found at a local thrift store. She made a wig from yarn and then painted it as well. Lastly, she painted my face, neck, arms, and hands with gray body paint. (May I mention here this was in June in Kansas? It was hot!). It was worth it, however, We looked pretty good, if I do say so myself. 

(Let me add a disclaimer here that I tried to talk my husband into dressing up. However, he had to work later in the day. I could not even get him to put a zipper across his forehead to be a Slitheen. Sigh). 

It Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

Now, dressing like a favorite character does not have to be as complicated as my weeping angel (as the zipper on the forehead may reflect). It doesn’t have to involve what we think of costumes at all, nor does it require a special occasion. It’s fun to just spend the day in attire worn by favorite characters. Secondhand stores are full of clothing that your favorite character may wear. (I have rarely bought clothing that is designed to look like a specific character). All it takes is a little ima-gi-nation. (Speaking of characters, I thought that in my best Spongebob voice. Okay, I admit, he may be a bit complicated to imitate. Perhaps a large cardboard box and yellow spray paint would come in handy). 

Character Aesthetics

There are a number of clothing aesthetics that are popular right now, often thanks to the imagination of Tik Tokers and YouTubers. Many of these aesthetics are based on fictional characters. If you can read about or watch a favorite character, you can dress like that character.  Below are some ideas for literature-themed clothing you may want to consider.

Dark Academia

Since I consider myself a perpetual student, one of my personal favorite character-based aesthetics is Dark Academia. This style became popular thanks to movies like Dead Poets Society (one of my all-time favorites) and books like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History (definitely my favorite non-classic fiction). Those who dress like their favorite Dark Academia characters wear clothing that is reminiscent of school uniforms or of Ivy League style. Dress pants, skirts, loafers, blouses, cardigans, and ties are Dark Academia staples. As its name suggests, dark colors are essential for dressing in this trend’s style. If dark colors are not your thing, you can always brighten it up with some Light Academia looks. Trade out deep reds, blacks, and browns for some whites and beiges. Add in pinks and greens and corals and blues. Don’t be afraid to add your own flare to your academic look.


If fantasy is your thing, why not dress (or dress up) in what your favorite fantasy character may wear? You might consider choosing clothes made from wispy fabrics like a fairy or elf or metallic colors for futuristic fantasy. Poof up your hair or tease it for an uncombed look. If your favorite fantasy is dystopian, perhaps you may prefer khakis, hiking boots, and sunglasses to protect you from the elements. Add in some fun jewelry or accessories to complete your character look. You’ll be ready for your fantasy world in no time. 

Generations of Characters

If fantasy is not your thing, maybe your favorite character is the epitome of a previous decade or century. It is always fun to research the era in which one’s favorite historical character lives. Once you have conducted your research, make a list of what you will need for clothing. If your favorite character is Jay Gatsby, look for white flannel suits and boatman’s hats. (Shiny yellow cars are optional). If your favorite character is Katniss Everdeen, you might opt for a black leather jacket and skinny jeans or leggings. If your favorite character is from the nineteenth century, you might be like me and enjoy prairie dresses (or corseted dresses or dandy suits). There is even an aesthetic for the 1990s or Y2K fashion. (Man, I feel old. However, on the plus side, since I survived Y2K, I can always offer helpful hints if your favorite character is from this generation). 

Manga and Anime

Another popular clothing aesthetic is one based on manga and anime. Again, as with other aesthetics and costumes, it is easy to find at second-hand stores clothing that mimics characters in this popular genre. (My son once found at Salina thrift stores the perfect costume for Sebastian from Black Butler). Once you find the clothing your favorite manga character would wear, add manga-esque makeup and hairstyles. Some people opt for wigs that add the perfect touch to their outfits. Some even like to dye their hair fun colors to match the anime character. 

The Extras Are Important 

I have hinted in this article that accessories or props, as the case may be, might be as important as clothing for gaining just the right character look. I didn’t mention the angel wings and plastic, pointy teeth for my weeping angel costume. I mean, how could we have Harry Potter without round glasses and a scar on the forehead? How could Dorothy have ever gotten back to Kansas without her slippers (whether they’re silver or ruby red will depend upon whether you are dressing like Dorothy from the book or Dorothy from the movie). Put yourself in your character’s place. Think of what they like, what their style is, and who they would be as individuals if they were real. 

For Those Who Like to Sew 

Perhaps you want to try your hand at sewing your favorite costume or clothing. After gathering supplies like the perfect fabric, thread, thimbles, and maybe a sewing machine, I recommend heading to the Salina Public Library. We have some fabulous books available that provide instructions for such endeavors. If you don’t have time to come to the library, have no fear! We also have some books and videos available through our online services. (See the library really does help make super heroes).  

Turning Dreams Into Reality 

Now that you have some ideas, turn your dream of dressing like your favorite character into reality. If you need some assistance deciding how you want to dress like your favorite character, the Salina Public Library has several books that may help you out. I already mentioned the instruction books for sewing favorite costumes. We also have books that can help you to dress in period clothing or themes. Don’t leave the kids out, even though dress-up is for all ages. We have several books to help children decide on their favorite character cosplay. While you’re here, don’t forget to pick up some new novels and movies. You could discover a new favorite character. And if I see you visit the library in full Superman garb, I promise to put away the kryptonite and cheer your creativity. (If you show up with a zipper on your head, I may hide until I know it’s really you).