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Lara Croft and the Chamber of Covertly Difficult Cosplays

Two cosplayers sit in a coffee shop deciding what they should make for an upcoming convention. As always, they have left it until the last minute and are quietly weeping into their fudgey frappes. One turns to the other and suggests,“Why don’t you do Lara Croft? It will be quick and easy.” The other cosplay nods in agreement and takes to her phone to check for reference pictures.

Now, I am not disagreeing that Lara Croft can be a quick and easy cosplay, she certainly can be. However, within all the iterations there are challenges for those who desire to be game accurate. Just putting it out there, most of the designs did not have physics in mind! With one particular piece of the costume that is the bane of most Lara Croft cosplayers:


lara croft cosplay

Until I was making my own, I thought a couple of pieces of leather and a cheap belt and I’d be sorted. Oh no. Not for Lara. Ms Croft does not do sensible holsters until the reboot. Those guns need to strapped to your thigh on minuscule backplate in anniversary with just two tiny bands preventing your guns from skitting across the floor of the convention centre and tripping Batman up. For Angel of Darkness, there are two strange curtain swags for side straps and for classic; well they look like two bin bags but at least they offer more support! For the beginner cosplayer, leather can be difficult to work with and PVC ‘pleather’ decides when and what it wants to stick to depending on how it feels that day. So sew what you can and pray to the cosplay gods that everything else stays stuck to avoid knocking out Batman when he falls from your escaping pistol.

So you have your holsters sorted? Great! Now it is time to move on to the backpack. It is just a brown leather backpack right? Really easy to buy, especially with the 90s revival at the moment. *Looks at reference pictures*, oh… See, Lara was never one for ‘standard’ bags. I mean, what else can you expect when you pick it off a dead person in Cambodia? That is going to be some snazzy, physics defying bag that. So for the classic look, you are aiming more for a cardboard box covered in pleather than an actual bag. You’ll only be disappointed when you have put the effort in making a fully functional backpack and it falls like a limp fish on your back. You would need to stuff it with that much padding that you couldn’t hold all the con crap you wanted to take with you. As we move to Legend, Anniversary and Underworld. Oh the panels, ALL THE PANELS. While it may act more like a normal backpack, this isn’t your basic five panels and a flap, oh no. New Lara likes her curves and details. You would honestly be the luckiest person alive if you could find a commercial pattern that looked remotely like these, so this cosplay comes with a side order of learning how to make a pattern from scratch. ENJOY!


Right, so that is holsters done and the bag. It is time for the home straight on this easy cosplay right? Well, now it is time for the shorts and vest top for a classic look, or cargo trousers and cami tops for the reboot. To save time, I am just going to stick with these two examples; however special shout out to the Tokyo dress from Legend. Never has a dress called for no wind and industrial tit tape more than the Tokyo dress. Bravo Lara on your choice of evening wear. Vest tops are easy to find, getting the right shape and colour is another matter. It took me 3 fabrics and a good month to find ribbed fabric in the right colour for Anniversary Lara; then I ended up re-dying it in the end. Do you go for latex for classic Lara? If you do, that jade green can sometimes be tricky to find. Then there are the shorts; retailers LOVE stitching crap on them that needs unpicking and then leaves holes, so you have to go and find another pair. Honestly, how can a plain pair of brown shortish shorts be so hard to find sometimes? If it isn’t shorts, then it is the blue/black-white/gold dress debate of the Tomb Raider cosplay community. What colour are Lara’s trousers in the reboot? Are the khaki but very dirty? Or are they a dark beige?


Images from

We shall never truly know.

They also like to hide on eBay and in stores when Lara cosplayers are looking for them. I swear, about six to ten years ago this style of combat trousers you could find everywhere. Now they all have some kind of ‘unique’ feature to them that makes them unsuitable or are so expensive you just cannot bring yourself to trash them. Dammit Lara with your seemingly simple clothes that are sometimes impossible to find!

I think I have gone on for quite long enough now, however we haven’t even touched on items like boots at non standard leg lengths, weapons galore and the ability to turn into Bukaroo with the reboot Lara design and all her stuff that seemingly disappears or absorbs into her body. Assault rifle and bow, I’m looking at you and heavily judging you. So whenever you see a Lara Croft cosplay, don’t be misled by its simple appearance. Often there is so much more that what is shown on the surface because often the simplest looking costumes can be the hardest to construct; every wonky seam or every wrong sized rivet stands out ten fold. But at the end of the day, if it stayed on your body and you had a good time, your cosplay has been a resounding success!


Creative Commons Licence
Lara Croft and the Chamber of Covertly Difficult Cosplays by Helen Johnson / Survivor Reborn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


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