Today we have our last post in Mary Abreu’s info-packed series on costuming. Don’t miss the previous posts: Costuming: Concept, Planning, Construction + More!, Peasant Dress Costumes and Group Costume Ideas.

Mary blogs at Confessions of a Craft Addict and she’s the author of Little Girls, Big Style: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe from 4 Easy Patterns. We’re always just blown away by her incredible costumes and we’re so happy to learn from her expertise!

I recently had the opportunity to judge the costuming contest at Anime Weekend Atlanta, a convention revolving around anime and manga. The experience really gave me a chance to get a closer look at costumes made by people of all skill levels, representing characters from comics, video games, animated films and even toys (the giant My Little Pony had all of us smiling). Perhaps the biggest thing I took away from it though was what takes a costume from “good” to “awesome!” Here are a few tips for adding some “wow” to your costume:

Materials: When I’ve been on costuming panels, one of the things repeatedly brought up is using the best materials you can afford. Better quality materials will yield a better-looking costume. Try to incorporate different textures for more visual appeal (microsuede is one of my favorites).

Fit: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Make a muslin before you start cutting into your “good” fabric. A poorly fitting garment is never going to look as good as one that fits well.

Makeup: It’s amazing what a difference makeup can make– even for guys. Don’t be afraid to go a little bold and heavier than you might wear on a day-to-day basis. It’s all part of the magic of costuming.

Props: Harry Potter just isn’t the same without his wand and glasses. And a Jedi just isn’t a Jedi without a lightsaber. Even something as simple as a parasol for a Downton Abbey costume or a long cigarette holder for a flapper can make a difference.

Head to Toe: All those little touches like hats, wigs, fascinators, jewelry and even shoes/shoe covers really do add up. The costumes we awarded Best Masters at AWA (a Steampunk Beauty and the Beast) really did a great job of this, from the illuminated rose on Belle’s backpack to the rose pin on Beast’s cravat to the brass-candlestick-and-wood “gun.” Separately, they’re all little things but when put together: BIG impact.