“I’m weird. I’m a weirdo. Have you ever seen me without this stupid hat on? That’s weird.”
You might think that cosplaying (see: dressing up as) Jughead — or any ‘dresses-like-a-regular-human’ Riverdale character, for that matter — would be an incredibly easy feat… and for the most part, you’d be right. The real question is: where do you begin? I recently cosplayed as the young introvert for a local comic expo for less than $40, and here’s how I put it all together.
Please note that no product or retailer mentioned in this article is sponsored or endorsed by The Game of Nerds or myself personally, and these are merely suggestions of where to look.
STEP ONE – THE OUTFIT:
First, get your main outfit together. Jug wears multiple outfits over the course of the show, so really this is where you get to best pick your preference. If you’re looking for cheap, your best bet here is to raid your closet and visit garage sales, thrift shops and used clothing online for anything you don’t already have.
For me, I chose a plaid button-down shirt, black straight jeans, striped white suspenders, black boots, and a standard laptop/messenger bag. (I also bought a dark denim jacket, but it was hot as hell that day and I opted out of wearing it. It’s important to be comfortable in your costume if you’re wearing it all day!)
Typical Jug outfit mainstays include suspenders, plaid button-down shirts, fitted colored jeans, denim/suede jackets, colored hoodies, bomber jackets with sherpa collars, and boots or sneakers. Scrub through an episode on Netflix or Google some pictures to get an idea of his style, and then put your own thing together! It’s not necessary to get the outfit precise — just recognizable!
STEP TWO – THE SHIRT:
What’s Jughead without an ‘S’ t-shirt? Throughout the season, our boy has worn multiple styles and multiple colors, but we’re typically looking at monochrome colors — whites, blacks, greys — in a heather material or baseball tee style. The ‘S’ itself comes in many fonts, but it usually contrasts against the shirt and the design is often artificially cracked/faded.
For my costume, I actually designed and had a shirt custom-made by a local company for cheap. However, if you’re not tech-savvy or don’t have any local print shops handy, you can also find quite the assortment available online. However, remember to be cautious when buying clothes online; make sure you are familiar with the return or exchange policy, and give yourself sufficient time in advance to return or replace the product if it doesn’t fit or look the way you need it to!
STEP THREE – THE BEANIE:
As the hat is the only thing that actually requires much effort here, I’m going to break down for you how I made my own. Please note that you can also buy these online, but you may not get it looking quite the way you want!
First off, you need a plain beanie (or a toque, if you’re a Canadian). I bought a cheap $8 one from West 49, but the really important thing is to make sure that it appears to be knit, is a dark granite-esque color, and that it is comfortable. If they’re affordable, it’s always a good idea to buy a backup in case you make a mistake. Alternatively, if you’re the knitty type, several templates are available online like this one here.
Once you have your beanie, you’re going to want to figure out the points of his crown-style brim. As every hat is different, this will vary and is also subject to preference. Your best bet here is to have someone help you measure the circumference while you wear it, and use this to help plot out how many points you can fit evenly on a sheet of paper. Nobody wants a hat with one point ending up smaller than the rest.
Once you’ve cut out your paper guideline, pin it all the way around the brim of the hat. This ensures that it stays in place while you sew. That’s right, folks — we’re going to sew! You’re going to want to pin this bad boy upside-down on the inside of the brim so you can use it as a sort of stencil template to run your needle under.
Next, break out your sewing machine (or if you’re a man-child like me, get a real adult to do it) and trace the outline made by your paper stencil with grey thread, as close as you can get to the beanie’s color. Sewing the edges first ensures that your points won’t fray or split when you cut them out. (This is especially important for wool or polyester, as they notoriously fray like it’s nobody’s business.) Please please please make sure you do not accidentally sew your brim to the hat at this point. That would be bad.
Once you’ve got a crown outline in thread, take off your pinned paper map and get to cutting along the outside of the stitching, as close as you can without tearing it. The points may still fray a bit — this is normal. If the fraying is exceptionally noticeable, you can use this opportunity to double-down over the pointed border with a heavier thread like I did. However, please note (like I didn’t) that this could stretch out the material and cause the fabric to curl inwards in odd places. If this is the case for you as well, you can use a straightener or starch to straighten out your points. Please ensure that if your hat is polyester, you are using a low heat or it may warp or melt.
Optionally, at this point, you can also hand-stitch the back of the brim to the base of the beanie. However, if you do this, make sure you make the stitch a very small single stitch in the center of the back of each point. I did this, and I find it helped exceptionally with keeping the spikes from flopping around while still allowing the tips a little bit of freedom.
Once you’re happy with your points, it’s time to make the patches. I’ll admit that I don’t really know what Juggie’s little circle and rectangle are made from in the show, but they appear to be faded metal or plastic pins or something. I just used plain white suede fabric from a sewing kit, available for cheap at Wal-Mart or any craft retailer.
Once you’ve measured and cut out your shapes the size you what them, it’s time to break out the paint. I used 456 True Burgundy and 515 Vintage White matte acrylic paint from a craft store, but again it’s up to your preference. Just remember: the circle is red and goes on the left, the rectangle is off-white and goes on the right.
Once the paint has dried, we’ve reached the home stretch. Glue your patches to your beanie with extra-strength fabric glue (making sure that it’s suitable for your type of fabrics used first, of course) and allow it to dry. Jughead typically wears these on the left side of his head, with the center of the rectangle in between two points, so keep this in mind before you glue! In order to eliminate any glue bubbles and to ensure smoothness, lay the hat flat underneath some old heavy books (a stack of Archie comics, perhaps?) while it dries overnight.
Please note: if your glue runs onto your hat and stains it white, all is not lost! Don’t try and pick it off and wreck or strip the fabric — a quick color-over with a matching marker should do the trick. Your hat need not look 100% perfect; mine sure didn’t. Nobody’s scrutinizing you super up-close!
STEP FOUR – THE LOOK:
Now that your crown beanie looks right, it’s time to make you look right. Make sure that you do this step as close as you can to the actual day the costume is to be worn while allowing a bit of a buffer of time in case anything goes wrong. In my case, this involved removing my glasses, styling my hair differently and shaving my beard (RIP). However, make sure you’re aware of what changes you’ll need beforehand and plan accordingly. Do you need to dye your hair? Find a wig? Buy contact lenses?
What’s really important here is that you’re happy with your costume and look and that you feel good about it. Remember, this is your costume; if your version Jughead is an overweight bearded redhead with a buzzcut and glasses, so be it. How far you want to go to make this costume show-accurate is entirely up to you, but don’t overthink it. Unless your name is Dylan Sprouse, you’re never going to look exactly like Cole does!
STEP FIVE – THE FINAL TOUCHES:
Now put it all together! Pop on your costume, head to your party or expo and rock it. Practice some Jughead poses and scowls for pictures, get together some other Riverdale-cosplaying friends or plan out a Pop Tate’s photo shoot. Most importantly, have fun!
While you’re at it, stay tuned to The Game of Nerds for all of your Riverdale recaps, news, articles, and fun stuff!