Black cosplayers provide ‘closet cosplay’ inspiration for Comic-Con goers

As Comic-Con season, kicks off in Atlanta this weekend, theGrio compiled closet cosplay ideas from Black enthusiasts on social media.

With Comic-Con season in full swing across the nation, fandoms from all walks of life are eagerly preparing their cosplay looks. With that said, some Black and brown convention goers may find cosplaying intimidating due to costs, time restraints, and lack of characters of color to emulate—but they needn’t fear!

Luckily, there are plenty of last-minute “closet cosplay ” ideas for Black cosplayers to explore—just in time for those attending Atlanta Comic-Con, currently running from July 15 to 17 (closely followed Comic-Con International in San Diego and events in Chicago and Seattle in the coming month). With that in mind, theGrio compiled a few top-notch ideas from Black cosplay influencers on social media for easy looks to emulate.

Closet Cosplay
Cosplayers dressed as Okoye and Killmonger of Black Panther, and Storm from X-Men
Photos: Creative Commons

Closet cosplay entails using clothes and accessories you already own or have access to, negating the need to go out and buy often prohibitively expensive wigs, clothing, accessories or anything else. As the name suggests, it’s cosplay that comes from what’s already in your or someone else’s closet. After all, Blerds shouldn’t have to break the bank to represent their favorite fandoms with flair!

Whether it’s a character from an anime, cartoon or superhero franchise, or fantasy or sci-fi book, there are several low-maintenance options that will make the cosplay building process a labor of love. For Black cosplayers, the ability to cosplay without experiencing anti-Blackness has historically been a struggle, which is why it’s vital for Black nerds to wave their fandom flags with pride at Cons with closet cosplay. Here are a few top closet cosplay examples from avid Black cosplayers. 

Superheroes and Villains

Harley Quinn (Batman)

Angélique Roché/Angélique Roché

Freelance journalist and host Angélique Roché explained to theGrio, “all I do is closet cosplay.” The Marvel’s Voices host recommends Black cosplayers “Have fun and know that this is expressly about your love for fandom and joy.” In the past, she’s done “a couple of Doctor Who ones of [former leads] Matt Smith and Bill Potts,” as well as comic book characters like Marvel’s Monica Rambeau and DC’s Harley Quinn. Her Harley Quinn cosplay simply includes putting her box braids in pigtails, drawing a heart on her cheek and donning a jacket in the DC villain’s signature colors. 

Erik Killmonger (Black Panther)

greyloch/Creative Commons

This cosplayer is making some noise with his closet cosplay of antagonist Erik Killmonger from Marvel’s Black Panther. The look can be easily recreated by mimicking Killmonger’s signature side-swept locs and shaved sides, perhaps pairing it with a long gray blazer or robe, and black pants—and of course, a bare and muscular chest. An alternative to a shirtless look, include a black tank top or t-shirt. No pressure to add it, but the signature Black Panther claw necklace can be ordered on Amazon Prime, if there’s a day or two to spare.

TikTok user @tyequan_ also had a clever and low-maintenance take on Killmonger, below:

@tyequan_ Replying to @xdnoox_ call me Ethan KillStealer #kilmonger#blackpantherforever#blackpantheredit#cosplay#closetcosplay ♬ original sound – 💎Daily Dose Of Content💎

Storm (X-Men)


Drawing inspiration from Storm’s mohawk look from both the classic Marvel comics and the film, X-Men: Apocalypse, this cosplayer’s closet cosplay version unmistakably evokes the superhero. For this take on the elemental queen, cosplayers will need the mohawk in white, silver, or platinum (or use a wig), a white tank, tube top, or crop top, a white jacket or vest embellished with the classic X-Men symbol, white pants or shorts, and white boots—or white tennis shoes, as seen above. Whiteout contact lenses are obviously a plus; lightning bolts not required.

General Okoye/Dora Milaje (Black Panther)

Photo: Chris_Creative Commons

It doesn’t get much cooler than the women warriors Dora Milaje, the special forces protecting Black Panther‘s kingdom of Wakanda. Evoking the look General Okoye wore in the casino battle scene from the iconic 2018 film, this cosplayer utilized a long red dress, bald head or cap (totally optional), African-inspired gold jewelry, and gold open-toed heels. To nail the look, she added a spear and had the Wakandan Dora Milaje tattoo design drawn on her skull.


Yoruichi Shihouin–Bleach

greyloch/Creative Commons

The biggest flex of this Yoruichi closet cosplay will be tracking down a purple wig or some handy-dandy temporary haircolor or spray. As this cosplayer shows, the rest is pretty simple. The look comes together with a long tan scarf (a white, ivory, or beige one would probably work, too), an orange or black top, and black pants or leggings. For an even more accurate look, layer orange on top of a black top (crop, tank, tube, etc.).

Naruto (Naruto)

Bwana McCall/Creative Commons

Here’s one for anyone in the Naruto closet cosplay clan: You may not be blond, but just make a classic ninja forehead protector (that can be easily created using a black or blue cloth, the interior of an empty soda can, and a freehand drawing or printout of the headband decor), a black and orange jacket (or layer orange and black garments), and orange pants. Once other fans of the manga character get a glance at the forehead protector, they’ll instinctively know another fan of the nine-tailed fox is in the building. 

Want to see how a Black cosplayer interpreted the character? Here’s a Naruto closet cosplay idea from Instagram user @jaxblade.

Luffy (One Piece)

Michael Mol/Creative Commons

Here’s a cosplayer who put together a stylish yet simple closet cosplay of the main character Luffy from the anime One Piece with a red vest (a sleeveless tunic will also do nicely), jean cutoffs (or blue Bermuda shorts) and a cute dupe of Luffy’s signature straw hat. Sandals or flip-flops will easily finish off the look. While it may only require a few items, this closet cosplay packs a mean punch—just like the stretchy-armed anime character it was inspired by. 

Here’s another Luffy closet cosplay from shellanin_ on Instagram.


Rick (Rick and Morty)

c_sherm/Creative Commons

This is for all the fans of the time-warping cartoon character, Rick. Start with a light blue or gray t-shirt, gray or silver hair (this can be a wig or temporary spray dye), a lab coat or a long white jacket that somewhat resembles a lab coat, pea green pants, and black closed-toe shoes. Pro tip: Rick is more about personality than presentation. The more eccentric, the better. His signature drool is optional. 


Hippolyta Freeman/Orinthia Blue (Lovecraft Country)

Instagram: Maiysha Kai

Presumably, most of us don’t have a silver spacesuit laying around the house (bonus points, if you do). But if you’ve got some silvery clothing around, all hope isn’t lost when it comes to achieving Hippolyta Freeman’s afrofuturistic transformation into Orinthia Blue, as demonstrated by theGrio’s Lifestyle Editor, Maiysha Kai (above). To nail the look, you’ll need a blue wig (available within days on Amazon, or use temporary blue haircolor or hairspray). Then, get some silver clothing out; to mimic the spacesuit, grab a silver top or turtleneck and leggings and even add some sparkle to your makeup. No silver clothing? It’s worth noting the character also sported ’50s daywear with her blue hair in the series—or if you have a few days before a convention hits your area, rock your Orinthia blue wig with this tee from Etsy, to rep all your Lovecraft favorites.

Other closet cosplay ideas include:

Chihiro (Spirited Away)

While this is one of the most fantastical anime films around, when it comes to Chiihro’s outfit, it’s very minimalistic. For her look, you’ll need a green and white long sleeve shirt, salmon shorts, white socks (make sure they’re visible for the true look), and yellow tennis shoes. 

Kiki (Kiki’s Delivery Service)

Kiki is one of the cutest and easiest characters to cosplay. All cosplayers need is a dark purple dress, a red bow or ribbon on their head (the bigger, the better), and red or orange shoes. Bringing a broom, a black cat plushy and an orange duffle bag is purely optional. 

Marceline/Marshall Lee (Adventure Time)

This is one for all the lovers of the vampire queen, Marceline (or her gender-bent counterpart, Marshall Lee). This closet cosplay includes a black wig (or temporary color spray), white powder (for the vampire skin color), fake vampire fangs (optional). There are a few options for the top: a black and red flannel, a black-and-red tank top, a gray tank top, a black tank top, a black shirt and a red shirt. Then, there’s blue jeans, brown boots and Marci’s straw hat (optional). Marshall Lee is even simpler, with a long sleeve plaid shirt and blue jeans being the entire cosplay. Marceline’s red guitar is fun, but not required for the look. 

Sister Night (Watchmen)

For the sisters (and everyone else) who are fans of Sister Night from the HBO Max show, Watchmen-this one is for you. Instagram cosplayer @dasrupa shows off a closet cosplay that includes a white t-shirt, a black hooded jacket, a long black skirt, and a black belted corset or wide belt paired with a black face mask and an epic pose to match her coolness vibes. It’s optional, but dasrupa also has Sister Night’s signature dangling cross hanging from the belted corset.

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