Sunday, October 3, 2010

How to: Put together a K-ON! uniform

....No sewing involved!

Here is one of many great cosplays out there of K-ON! you can find on the internet. This is a photo taken from Alodia Gosiengfiao's official fanpage for Animax Asia.

For Anime Expo 2010, I decided to cosplay as Azusa Nakano from K-ON! Since it was such a spontaneous decision and I was on a very short time limit before AX, I rushed through it and it was not too great the first time around. So I decided to re-do the costume to debut it in time for Anime Los Angelos 2011. This is a guide on how I put together my cosplay.

Table of Contents:
  • Step 1: Wig/hairstyles
  • Step 2: Collared Dress Shirt
  • Step 3: Blazer/Vest
  • Step 4: Skirt
  • Step 5: Socks
  • Step 6: Shoes/Heights
  • Step 7: Props & Ideas
  • Step 8: Finishing Touches (eye color, makeup, lenses, and ribbons)
  • Step 1: Wig

    The wig, in my opinion, is one of the most important factors of the cosplay. As this is a uniform cosplay, most of the body of the cosplay does not matter until you decide which character you want to cosplay. There are 5 main characters in K-ON! -- Yui Hirasawa (Lead Guitar), Mio Akiyama (Bass), Ritsu Tainaka (Drums), Tsumugi Kotobuki (Keyboard), and Azusa Nakano (Rhythm Guitar). They all have their own characteristics and twists to their uniforms, but the key difference is their hair colour.

    From Left: Azusa, Mio, Yui, Ritsu, and Mugi

    Mio has long, straight black hair.
    Yui has short, brown hair with two yellow hairpins.
    Ritsu has short, brown hair with a headband that reveals her forehead.
    Mugi has long, blonde wavy hair.
    Azusa has long, straight black hair in pigtails.

    Where do I buy a wig?

    *Keep in mind that you might need to style your wig after you receive it -- trimming the bangs, altering the length, etc. I ordered my wig from the Zephyr line, the two tail wig with a skin top, for $73. (It's steep, I know ;-; !) In the future I would have just ordered a base wig with two clip-on bangs because it took the night before the convention to style the ponytails!

    Why do I have to wear a wig?

    You don't have to wear a wig if your hair is very close to the character that you want to cosplay. That's how a lot of people decide -- because their hair looks like so-and-so and they can't afford a wig. Wigs are expensive. They're usually about $30+ and probably $40+ for a long wig, such as for Mio or Mugi. If you can get away with not wearing a wig, feel free to do so.

    However, I usually like to wear a wig (well, I have no choice -- my hair is too short not to!). It also insures that your hair during the day stays the same. Even if you sweat, you sweat under the wig cap. It also adds an authenticity to the cosplay, if your hair is not the same shade as the character's. You're also free to style your hair or cut your hair how you want it prior to a convention without worrying about it.

    Step 2: Collared Dress Shirt

    This is a very simple step. What I did was go into my local thrift store and pick out a plain white dress shirt. All the girls wear a dress shirt underneath their uniform blazer. My dress shirt was $2 from a local thrift store.

    Step 3: Blazer/Vest

    Depending on if you want to do the summer uniform or the winter uniform, you can either purchase a vest or a blazer. I was able to easily find a secondhand blazer in my local thrift store, though you can also check H&M for a blazer. They had a double breasted navy blue blazer last time I was in there, and you could easily re-sew the buttons and take out the extra buttons to make the plain, 3-button blazer.

    I still have to take out the shoulder pads and sew on gold buttons, though. The blazer was $4.50 from the thrift store. It looks black, but it's navy blue..

    However, for the vest I bought it from Land's End. Here is the link: (link). If the link does not work for some reason, go to the Land's End website and search "vest." I bought mine from the "big kid's" school uniform section in the color "Maize" in size Medium because I am petite. The vest was $25 without shipping. Thanks to katx from for helping me with this. :)

    Step 4: Skirt

    The skirt for the K-ON! cosplay was probably the single article of clothing that I had the hardest time locating. Not only is the color of the skirt -- a greyish blue, or slate blue -- very peculiar and hard to find, but the pleats are also something else. After ordering an unsuccessful skirt from ebay (it was far too blue for my first attempt), I simply decided on settling on a light grey pleated skirt from Yesstyle. I'd seen many K-ON! cosplayers have grey skirts rather than the slate blue in the anime, and I figured a teensy color inaccuracy was a good sacrifice against losing hours of sleep and wasted time. However, there is a really helpful tutorial on making a pleated skirt:

    The brand is Catworld and the skirt is called "Elastisized Waistband Miniskirt" from The links for Yesstyle's products frequently change, so I can't give you a link, sorry! It was $27 with shipping.

    Unfortunately the skirt is too small for my waist so I still have to alter it to fit.

    Step 5: Socks

    The socks for each character vary. Yui is known particularly for her fondness for wearing tights to school, so if you are cosplaying as Yui, without tights, it won't be completely accurate! You can purchase tights or socks from your local Target if there is one in your area. Any department store will do, really. I just like Target the best! My black knee high socks for Azusa were $2. Tights are about $5.

    Yui wears black tights.
    Mio wears black knee high socks.
    Ritsu wears white ankle socks.
    Mugi wears white knee high socks.
    Azusa wears black knee high socks.

    Step 6: Shoes

    I usually see other K-ON! cosplayers wear brown loafers, although you could also purchase some uwabaki (their indoor shoes, which are usually made of rubber and have a specific color for their class year) from ebay. I searched up "brown loafers" on ebay and purchased a pair for $25.

    Since I am on the subject of feet, I might as well state it here. If you want to cosplay as the ever-popular Mio in a group, please make sure you are the tallest one! Mio is known to be quite tall and graceful (around 5'7''). It will just seem strange to K-ON! fans if there is a short Mio.

    Here is what I gathered each HTT member's heights to be.
    Yui: Average height. 5'2''~5'4''
    Mio: Tall height. 5'6''~5'9''
    Ritsu: Average height. 5'2''~5'4''
    Mugi: Average height, shorter than Mio. 5'4''~5'6''
    Azusa: Short height. 4'10''~5'0''

    Pretty much, everyone is average except that Azusa has to be particularly short and young-looking and Mio has to be particularly tall and graceful. Mugi is noted to be about the same height as Mio, but a little shorter.

    Step 7: Props

    The Sakuragaoka High girls are known for having instruments, of course, as part of the Light Music Club. Mio, Yui, and Azusa all carry around their signature bass/guitars. Yui has her Gibson Les Paul electric guitar, Azusa has her Fender Mustang, and Mio has her Fender Jazz Bass. They are ALL expensive instruments (by expensive I mean about $900 alone for the Fender Mustang). Ritsu and Mugi play less portable instruments (drums and keyboard).

    How do I still get props for the character if I don't want to spend too much money?

    Obviously, for most people it is not within their price range to get an expensive electric guitar unless they already have a guitar.

    What you can do for Azusa/Yui/Mio is simply borrow a guitar from a friend, a parent, or relative. You can also purchase guitars of the same color but not of the same brand. Or you can even make a guitar! There's quite a few options.

    For Ritsu, carry around drumsticks (Rock Band drumsticks should do fine).
    For Mugi, carry around a teacup since she is known for always making tea for the club members (can be purchased from Goodwill or a local Asian supermarket).

    I've seen photos of a very clever Yui who carried around castanets! (Yui mistakenly thinks of the Light Music Club as a club where she can play castanets -- I recommend reading the manga or watching episode 1 of the anime to understand this joke.)

    If you aren't cosplaying a main character, but are cosplaying as Ui, Nodoka, Jun, or Megumi-San, try to delve into the character more.

    For Ui, maybe wear a cute apron or carry around a tray of sweets as she is always taking care of Yui.
    For Nodoka, have her trademark red glasses and perhaps a student council form since the keion club never seems to turn in their forms.
    As for Megumi-San, make a plush of Mio or carry around a Mio Fanclub card!

    Step 8: Finishing touches!

    Finishing touches for your costume depends on the character you want to portray.

    For Ritsu, she never seems to have her shirt tucked in and leaves her blazer unbottoned along with her yellow headband exposing her forehead. She is known to be flatchested, and jealous of Mio.
    Mio has her trademark, short, blunt-cut side bangs alongside either side of her face, as well as a large chest.
    Azusa has her longer sideburns framing her face, along with her trademark pigtails. She is also known to be flatchested.
    Mugi has blue eyes and a large chest (seems to be her most distinguishing features other than hair color).
    Lastly, Yui has her two yellow hairclips on her bangs.

    Next, the specific eye colors and my recommended circle lenses (all are available in prescription). Links open in new windows to picture examples.

    Yui - brown eyes (EOS Max Pure Brown 14.5mm)
    Mio - dark grey eyes (i.Fairy Jewel Grey 14.6mm)
    Ritsu - hazel/yellow eyes (Dollyeye Brown 14.2mm)
    Mugi - blue eyes (Geo Nudy Blue 14.0mm)
    Azusa - dark red/brown (EOS Candy Brown (G208) 14.5mm)

    Circle lenses are a nice finishing touch, but definitely optional. Unless you are doing close-ups in a photoshoots, it is likely that people at the convention will not notice from further away while taking pictures of you. What they do notice is how well your costume is put together and how in-character you are!

    There are also the ribbons that the girls wear to indicate their year.
    Yui, Mio, Mugi, Ritsu - Blue
    Azusa, Jun, Ui - Red
    It is easy to purchase a small spool from somewhere like Michael's for about $2.

    Lastly, makeup is almost always a necessity for cosplay, because anime characters' skin tones are so flawless! There are many cosplay tutorials for makeup, available on Youtube or just search the forums as well as DeviantArt. Always try to go for a natural, flawless look. Bb cream, eyeliner, and blush would all be essentials.

    Here are also some spectacular K-ON cosplays found via google or curecos.
    Above group picture found here.

    Good Luck, and have fun!

    All K-ON! images copyright Kyoto Animation and were found via google search.

    1 comment:

    1. Thanks so much for this tutorial! You helped out for some of my searches I needed to do for the perfect Yui costume! Can't wait to see you there Azu-nyan!