Stealth cosplay is a means to let your fan flag fly–but subtly enough that only fellow travelers will know you’re in costume. Think of it as an upgrade to wearing superhero underwear with your power suit: channeling Bruce Banner with your best purple slacks, buttoning your dress shirt over a Superman tee, or otherwise straddling the line between traditional cosplay and the more general category of fan fashion.
In practical terms, stealth cosplay can go in two main directions: outfits inspired by the general look of a character’s costume; or duplicating canonical — but not recognizably costumy street wear. Either way, the defining principle is the same: Only you know that you’re dressed up.
If you’re not a superhero fan, remember that the phenomenon does not have to be limited to capes and tights; note the amazing stealth Angry Birds dress above worn by Teija Vesterbacka to the Finnish Presidential palace, and the subtlest of Doctor Who scarves.
We’ve gathered some of our favorite examples of stealth cosplay from around the web: outfits, accessories, tricks, and tips. Read on, then check Tumblr for more inspiration, and see if you can add the sartorial flair of your favorite characters to your own daily wear.
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