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Surviving the Summer Break from Once Upon a Time: Cosplay on the Cheap!

It’s been four weeks since Once Upon a Time closed out season four and I’m still breathing. SOMEHOW. It’s probably because I have already watched seasons one, two, and three all the way through (and then some), twice. I’m on my second trip through season four as we speak. Don’t you dare tell me I don’t know how to live my life to its fullest!

I’ve been trying to keep busy, trying to keep my mind off the Sadness of Summer Break (which is my new band name, omg!). And I’ve put the fanfic down this last week to reconnect with another fandom passion: COSPLAY!!!!!!!

I don’t cosplay everything I love. I simply can’t. The amount of time, energy, and money that goes into researching, designing, procuring, buying, and assembling a costume can be absolutely draining. I used to average about six decent cosplays a year before I had a kid. Now I’m very happy if my homemade “Stark Industries” t-shirt doesn’t have mashed banana on it.

So any day that I make it out of my pyjamas, I try to casual cosplay a little bit. Sometimes it’s a Black Sabbath tee shirt and kale juice; some days it’s a Gryffindor scarf and hat. But it makes me feel better to have a little bit of my heroes with me when I venture out into the world. With my social anxiety and depression, any courage and strength they can lend me is much appreciated.

Most of us can’t go to work or school or out to get coffee in full regalia. It’s hard to convince your boss, or even your friends and family, that this is an acceptable look on Casual Friday. Sometimes not even a Tee Fury shirt is appropriate for where your day takes you.

So you’ve got to introduce the word “understated” into your cosplay vocabulary. Also “subtle,” “influenced,” and “inspired” are useful, too. When I do my twice-monthly treasure hunt at my favorite off-price department store or thrift shop, I go in with one question: “Who am I shopping for today?” That question has a hundred answers. Hermione? Which version, canon or fanfic? Rogue? ‘90s or more current? Kaylee? Cute and frilly, or greasy mechanic?

Lately, of course, I’ve been one-track-minded on Once Upon a Time. Does this sweater look like Mary Margaret would have it in her closet? Would August carry this bag? Do these shoes look like Mr. Gold would wear them? (Yes, I secretly-not-so-secretly cosplay my patient husband, too.) If it fits and it’s priced nicely, it’s coming home with me.

So in the spirit of my shopping adventures and my love of cosplaying, I’d like to share with you the method to my madness. When I want to wear something my favorite characters wear, I don’t always look for replicas. Cosplay on the cheap means saving on money and effort. A quick trip to one’s favorite discount shop can provide amazing results. Today we’re going to use Payless Shoe Source as an example of how to find “inspired” footwear for our Once Upon a Time casual cosplays.

Regina Mills
Mara Block Heel Tall Boot
$27 on clearance

Look at this thing. This is Regina Mills’ @$$ kicking boot! Sleek, sexy, and stylish, this boot would work with or without the leggings autumn in Maine demands. P.S.: they are perfect for kissing and groveling tears easily wipe clean.© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved
The Evil Queen
Hype Platform Pump
$19 on clearance

Don’t let the simplicity of this pump fool you. This is a 5 1/2 inch platform for a royal foot. Its rich, velvety faux suede compliments both silks and furs. And the 2 1/2 inch toe box rise keeps all your hems out of the filthy peasant mud.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Mary Margaret
Camila Bow Flat
$24.99 on sale

It’s just darling! Innocent and sweet, this flat with grosgrain bow accent will compliment any twin set, so long as the top button is fastened. This shoe is available up to size 13, which means you can look adorable no matter how much your feet swell during your mysterious pregnancy from that year you can’t remember.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Snow White
Wenly Desert Wedge
$69.99 regular price

Fit for a princess who doesn’t mind hoofing it once in a while, this wedge boot, or w00t!, will compliment your royal travel leathers or your feather-trimmed maternity frock. They’re so versatile and comfortable that they’ll make you forget the woman wearing them once stepped on both a baby’s rattle and a mother’s hopes and dreams.
© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Emma (the Bail Bondsperson)
Luxe Glitter Platform Pump

Perfect for a night on the town, or just jazzing up your stakeout! These glittery pumps will dispel any lingering doubt in your mark’s date’s mind that you’re there for anything but a good time. Little does he know, the reinforced 5 1/2 inch wrapped heels will withstand a foot pursuit over multiple surfaces.
Emma (the Savior)
Raven Tall Boot
$18.00 on clearance from $49.99

Compliments everything in your Storybrooke wardrobe from your rarely-used sheriff’s jacket to your gigantic sweater-beanie combo set. Cozy yet durable, these tall, slouchy boots keep you prepared for the inevitable field trip into the woods, but see you safely back to dinner with the family. The side zipper makes pulling these bad boys off at the end of a long day and crashing on the sofa a quick affair. These boots also travel well through portals, up beanstalks, and back in time.

Mr. Gold
Gavin Dress Oxford
$34.99 on sale

Whether walking from property to property collecting rent, or just sitting in a bin at a TSA checkpoint, these dress oxfords are classically styled. The reinforced toe box is ideal for kicking scoundrels who hit on your amnesiac girlfriend both in the stomach and in the kidneys. The breathable man-made materials resist blood stains without pre-treatment. Customizable inserts are available to compensate for limp.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Rumpelstiltskin (pre-Dark One)
Freebord Driver Slip-On
$29.99 on sale

These slip-ons feature authentic-looking leather-type materials and rustic hand stitching to let the soldiers know you are indeed the poorest of the poor. Insides are lined with the softest padding, making your abscondment into the night virtually silent. For maximum accuracy, purchase in two different sizes to accommodate swollen and broken lame foot.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Robyn Flat Slide – Camo

Check out these sweet kinda-Birkenstocks! Not only are they ridiculously out of step with modern fashions, but they feature a forest motif that is reminiscent of Sherwood Forest. The inside has a pre-molded toe area that reduces the need to grip these shoes, which means you can walk from some unspecified point on the coast of Maine to New York without fatigue.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Marian (Sherwood Forest)
Bryne Woven Lace Up
$25.00 on clearance from $69.00

Kick unwanted sexual advances to the curb with these rugged-yet-feminine woven lace ups. The fine artisan detailing adds a luxurious touch; your friends will never guess you can’t pay the taxes on your tavern!
© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

David Nolan

Durango II Fleece Hiker

Don’t get caught running from an angry giant in anything less than this fleece-lined hiking boot. Good for working in the mines or playing deputy sheriff, this boot will see you though yet another unpredictable day. Thinsulate lining keeps feet warm in temperatures as low as -22ºF, ideal for Maine winters – or when pesky Snow Queens erect ice walls around the town borders.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved
David (the Shepherd)
Snowboard Moc Slipper
$19.99 on sale

If your meager existence relies solely on your ability to eek out a living planting on your farm, shepherding in the meadow, and mucking out stalls, then you need a comfortable, reliable, versatile shoe that may or may not have belonged to your father before he left for town that one time. #awkward  Handmade by your mom, lined with the softest of your own flock’s wool, this slip-on comes in drab grey to reflect the hopelessness of your plight.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Belle (French)
Kilty Penny Loafer Pump
$10.00 on clearance from $39.99

This new twist on the old penny loafer takes your “sexy Storybrooke librarian” cosplay to the next level! Its timeless style compliments even the most modern wardrobe. The thick 3 1/2 inch heel is sturdy and will hold strong whether you’re running from a filthy pirate hell-bend on revenge, or need a little extra boost as you reach for that forgotten tome on the highest shelf.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Women’s Brown Paisley Gretchen Clog

This is THE clog to get kidnapped in! Fashioned from the riding chaps scavenged off one of the many discarded corpses left lying around in the dungeon, these clogs are fancy enough to be worn inside your rich employer’s home as you avoid any kind of actual work, but comfortable enough to be worn into town to fetch hay, or out in the clearing as you take in the wash. They can withstand multiple scrubbings, but most importantly, their slip-resistant bottoms keep you steady and well out of the puddles of blood you have chance cause to wade through.

© 2014 Payless Shoesource Inc. All Rights reserved

Hopefully, you’ve been inspired to add a little cosplay into your own daily wardrobe. You don’t have to break the bank to sport the look of your favorite hero or villain!

We’d love for you to share some of your finds in the comments below.

What kind of casual cosplay do you sneak into your everyday look?



Payless Shoesource Inc. “Images, et all.” 2014.

Stuart Weitzman Women’s Hojas Evening Pump. Stuart Weitzman. 2014.

Promotional image/logo for the ABC television series Once Upon a Time (TV series). ABC. October 2, 2012.

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