Let me give you my two-cents on it.
I don't like the idea of it, especially if you want to save money. I know that you may not be able to make a Lulu costume or you've got hands for feet and can't sew for your life, but commissions don't come cheap. Don't believe the eBay tempters who say you can have this or that for $50+ unless you know you're willing to put that much money down plus some for the alterations you will probably need later. Some commissioners will charge you a couple hundred for a costume, depending on how difficult it is and some will overcharge you up the hill. You never know how it'll turn out, and that's the scariest thing. Putting down $20-30 for an eBay wig that may (or may not) come in three weeks isn't as scary as $100-$1000 down for a costume that will take months (or even longer) to complete... if you even get it.
I don't mean to scare you, but I think it's the cheap mother in me that makes me so wary of these sites and commissioners. There are good commissioners out there, but you will need to do your research. It would be horrible if you were to put a lot of money down on a costume and never ever get it.
Still ready to buy a costume? Here are some general tips.
- Look at the commissioner's work
- If the costumes they make for themselves don't look that great, don't expect too much more from them.
- See if they've commissioned for other people and if those people have uploaded photos. What you see will go much farther than what the reviews say.
- Check out the commissioner's reviews
- Don't look up one site's reviews. I've heard stories of companies hiring people to SAY good things about them so that their reviews go up. Look around.
- If there are very positive reviews and very negative reviews, read the negative reviews. See what the commissioner has done wrong and see if he or she has done the same wrong to many people.
- How do they accept payments
- Paypal is safe. If they don't accept Paypal, be very wary.
- Paypal can help refund you if you don't get your costume or wig too. It's a lot safer than giving your credit card number or bank account number to a random person over email or chat.
- You want to make sure you give them enough time. A week before the con is ridiculous, you should give them a few months to prepare your costume. It's tailored specifically for you, so it will take extra time.
- You get what you pay for
- When it comes to commissions, you will get a wide range of prices. Don't think that super high prices will get you good quality, but be wary of the very cheap prices. I've heard scary stories about the outfit being too small or too large and the commissioner/company will not accept returns or refunds.
- Use common sense
- Just that feeling in the gut will do. If it sounds too good to be true, then do your research. If it sounds horrible, it probably is. Research, research, research!
Cosplay Tutorial has an excellent article on the pros and cons of making or buying your own costume. Check it out.
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