Where do you buy Clara items?
The websites and apps that I use are the following:
Vinted (there’s a version for most countries, including US and UK, also available as an app)
Doctor Who Cosplay Sales Livejournal
Poshmark (US only)
What do you need to cosplay Clara?
Awesome Claras come in all shapes and sizes, so all you really need is a love for Clara and her style. You can buy similar items to hers in so many shops, but if you want her screen accurate (short: SA) clothes, check out the links I previously mentioned to find out what she wore on the show. To find SA clothes, you will need a lot of patience because some items are rarer than others. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find anything on eBay even though you’ve been looking for weeks. One day, the item you want is going to show up somewhere. Of course, some of Clara’s items come from very expensive brands (All Saints, The Kooples), but even with those, you can get very lucky without spending too much if you’re patient enough. And if they’re still too expensive for your wallet, I will post about good alternative (short: alt) clothes as well because even I don’t want to spend 500€ on Clara’s original Belstaff jacket.
A recent Vinted update sadly made it a little harder for new members to purchase clothes from foreign Vinted websites. When I registered, I was able to do it via Facebook and I have bought several items on the French website without a problem. However, several people who tried to register in recent months said that they were asked to provide a national phone number – which they didn’t have. So, as of now, you will need the help of a local unless you have an already existing account.
How to care for your cosplay collection
Cosplay is a very expensive and time-consuming hobby, so it’s natural that you want to protect your precious collection from evil influences like sun, heat and the effects of the washing machine. Here are a couple of tips I’ve gathered over the last two years:
Follow the instructions on the care label. As many second-hand clothes already come with the label cut out of them, you can always ask a fellow cosplayer or look the item up on my blog. I usually include special care instructions in my item reviews and unless mentioned otherwise, the item will probably be good to go into the washing machine. I’m a lazy and practical person and I wash and tumble-dry most of my clothes, so believe me when I say I’ve tested it. Items made out of merino wool cannot under any circumstances go into the washing machine with normal detergent because it will tear the fragile wool apart and create holes. The safest way to care for those is to hand-wash them with special wool detergent.
To protect your collection from nasty influences like the sun (see the post about the Urban Outfitters Silence + Noise Zip Carnation skirt which fades in sunlight), it is best to keep them in a dark place like a closet. If you have the space for it, you can protect it from dust with a garment bag (you can get them on eBay for little money).
Some of Clara items are prone to wrinkles (looking at you, Caretaker shirt!) and will need some extra attention from you before they can be worn. Since heat can damage the fabric as well, I recommend investing in a steamer. I didn’t know these existed until I worked in retail and my company got one to steam the clothes before hanging them in the shop and it’s honestly a purchase you will not regret! It costs just as much as an iron and is much gentler and easier to use, faster and more practical because you don’t need a flat surface or board to use it on. You steam the clothes hanging. The advantage of steaming is also that you can use it to get rid of smells in already worn clothes that aren’t yet ready for the wash (like coats which can’t go into the washing machine anyway) or you can use it to steam your sofa to get rid of germs and smells. Look them up on Amazon or eBay. I actually asked for one as a Christmas present from my mum and she called me mad when I was extremely happy about a household appliance, but it works like a charm and I never want to go back to ironing.
Invest in a basic sewing kit. When I was a teenager, my grandma taught me the basics of sewing clothes, but you don’t even need as much. In Germany, elementary school teaches kids how to do basic things like repairing a ripped seam or attaching a button. If you don’t know how to do it, there are YouTube tutorials available for it, but your cosplay collection will thank you for it. I’ve done more minor repairs on my cosplay items than I can count from altering the size to just attaching loose buttons, but there will come a point in your cosplay time that you will need to do one of these things. Basic sewing kits are cheap and available online and in many shops.
Sometimes, it can be necessary to dye your cosplay items. If this is your first time dyeing something, I’m sure you have a lot of questions. First of all, you need to see what material your item is made from because most fabric dye is only suitable for natural fibres. Sometimes, it will work on mixed fibres depending on how much of it is natural. There are different brands that produce fabric dye and the ones I’ve worked with so far are Simplicol and Dylon – and I can honestly recommend both. They can be found on eBay. I’ve been dyeing clothes for a long time now because I used to work in a shop that only allowed black clothes and because I didn’t want to buy a new pair of trousers every three months, I decided to dye the faded clothes back to black. Note that with fabric dye, you can only go darker (I feel like this should be common knowledge, but sadly, it’s not) because it is based on the CMYK colour scheme where you add colour and colour and get something darker than you had before. Most fabric dyes will tell you that you can dye in the washing machine, but as a person who is afraid of ruining her lighter clothes, I’ve always opted for the pot method. Simply pour the fabric dye in a large pot of warm water, add the item you want to dye and stir it occasionally to get the best result. If you don’t stir, you could risk a blotchy outcome. Also, be careful to wear gloves and rinse the item properly after the dyeing process to avoid skin irritation or bleeding (as in the bleeding of the colour). I would recommend washing the item separately or with black clothes after dyeing it to make sure you don’t ruin any of your other clothing items. Fabric pens also deliver a great result if you only need to dye parts of an item.
Where can I meet other cosplayers?
There are several ways to meet other cosplayers. One would be to go to conventions and strike up a conversation, but if there aren’t any interesting cons in your area, you can still meet fellow Claras and other DW cosplayer. For German Doctor Who cosplayers, there is a Facebook group called “Doctor Who Cosplayer Germany”. It’s a closed group, but you can request to join and will be admitted. I’m sure there are international equivalents out there as well. Specifically for Clara cosplayers, there is the Clara Oswald Cosplay Page on Facebook, but not much is happening there at the moment.
The best place to meet fellow cosplayers – in my opinion – is Instagram. I’ve had an account there before I really started cosplaying and later created a specific cosplay account and I found it very easy to meet likeminded people that way and to strike up a conversation. All the other Claras I talk to on there are true sweethearts and quick to welcome newcomers. You will also find Doctor cosplayers, Bill cosplayers, Amy cosplayers and so on. And none of them bite 😀