If you know me, then you know that I like to play dress up. The more refined nerds call it ‘costuming.’ If you’re not one, then you’ve at least seen one. You know, they’re the grown folks playing dress up, as if any day is Halloween.

Adam and Eve

This costume looks even worse on black people.

I came across a comment made by a friend of a friend (on Facebook, where else?) who said that he wished he could afford costuming. I have to admit – that’s the worst excuse I ever come across when it comes to playing dress up. I suppose what these people were saying is that they really wish they had the money to do a really great, detailed, “screen accurate” costume. But still, I find it disturbing.

First, it’s a bit of a misnomer to believe that expensive costumes are good, and that cheap costumes are, well, cheap. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you’ve ever been to one of those Halloween shops, you’ll know that they’re shoddy (at best) and expensive for what they are. And yes, I’ve bought costumes at those places (for my kids, FOR MY KIDS!!!) Mostly because I didn’t have the time to make my son an Optimus Prime costume.

Sure, it looks like I'm defecating, but I'm really chasing a bounty.

On the flip side, there are plenty of ‘cheap’ costumes that don’t look cheap at all. I know a girl that made a great Zam Wesell costume and she did it fairly cheap. I don’t remember what she spent on it, but for roughly what she would have paid at a costume store, she got something immensely more ‘realistic.’ Not to brag, but I made my own Vader costume. Yes, it cost quite a bit (around $600 total), but only because I spent $100 on a helmet, $100 on a saber, and $40 on boots. I suppose that still sounds like a lot of money, but it wasn’t all at once. I bought pieces here and there. And in the original version, I used a turtle neck tshirt and sweatpants for the undersuit. I upgraded to vinyl a few dollars later.

My point is that you CAN spend a lot of money on a costume, but why? If you have the time and patience, you can really knock out some good looking costumes for relatively cheap.

The balance is where to put your time and effort, and where to spend your money. If you’re looking to make a Jedi costume, you could make your own saber, but it may be worth the time and money to order something online. Unless you’re a whiz with circuits and batteries and stuff…

A Jedi costume is probably one of the easiest costumes to put together. My biggest suggestion is to shop around at fabric stores until you find the fabric you want at the price you don’t mind paying. I know some guys won’t settle for less than wool lined with silk, and that’s going to be expensive. But you can get some cheaper material and not line it and come out with a tunic that is less than $20! Compare that to the Halloween shops, and you’ll soon realize that this is the way to go for anything resembling a ‘real’ costume.

I’ve done a few Jedi tunics, and I have some suggestions. If you live in an area that’s typically warm and possibly humid, I’d really suggest that you stick with natural fibers. They breathe, whereas the synthetics get stuffy quick – especially if you’re working on your jump flips and saber twirls.

Oh, and look for fabrics with texture. They really add a lot to the look. Steer clear of broadcloth. It’s synthetic, hot, and looks really plain. Trust me on this – my first one was made with some beige broadcloth. But, I spent all of about $10 on fabric, so not a total loss.

Dresses. Jedi's love 'em.

One of the benefits of the Jedi costume is that you don’t have to go with one look. If you watch the Geonosis Battle in Episode II, you’ll see that the overall look is similar, but they’re all different. In fact, that one Jedi is wearing a DRESS!!!

The thing to keep in mind is that Jedi need to stay with neutral, earth tones (I disagree with the greens, but hey, it’s your Jedi.) The main thing is that you have a tunic, tabbards, sash and light saber. It’s also smart to match the colors. Have different colored tabbards and sash, but make sure they go with your tunic…

Pants. This should really be the easiest part of the costume. Grab some khakis and go with it. I have a pair of thin piped corduroys that work well for a Kenobi costume. But just about any khakis should work. I saw a guy at Celebration III who had a fantastic Jedi Tunic, but was wearing blue jeans. WHAT? The kid could have just headed out to Goodwill and picked up some khaki pants! I dubbed the guy “Casual Friday Jedi.” Don’t be that guy.

Now, there are a couple of pieces to this costume that can be done cheaply, but can be expensive as well.

BOOTS: I was able to pick up some Frye boots for $75 on ebay. I’ve worn them a lot, and they need to be resoled (bonus to ‘real’ boots.) But I’ve seen plenty of costumes that use the cheap $20 vinyl pirate boots that typically show up at those Halloween stores. The downside is that they aren’t very durable and will ultimately crack and fall apart after any extended use, but for the price you could get about 6 or 7 pairs for what you’d pay for cheap ‘real’ boots. And then there’s the whole “detail” part. If you look at Anakin’s and Obi Wan’s boots, you’ll see that they have some neat details that you don’t get with the cheap boots. That’s the trade off… Unless of course you’re a boot maker.

BELT: I’ve seen belts on ebay go for over $100! Which is insane, considering it’s just some leather strapping with some detail parts. I made my first belt. I looked through women’s belts at various stores until I found something that would work. One side had a suede texture, and the other was a marbled leather look. So I separated the front and back and then cut the belt to the size I needed. And, I was able to make pouches with the left over material. I used a buckle I found at a fabric store, and never got around to putting the food capsules on, but no one’s ever noticed. Except the guys thinking I should join one of the bigger costuming groups.

Hopefully you’ll be on your way to making a Jedi costume soon. If you are and need some advice, ask and I’ll be glad to help out.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you just have to know where to spend your time, and where to spend your money. I suppose if I were to make a Star Wars analogy, I’d say that buying your costumes is like the Dark Side – quicker, easier, more seductive. Making your costume from scratch is like the Light Side, patience, my young apprentice.