What would your advice be for someone wanting to cosplay who has never done it before and who feels they're too old?
DOOOOOOO IT. :D
Okay, more concrete advice. Start small! Cosplay a character where you can buy most of the pieces ready made and alter them if you can. That’s what I did with my Piper Wright cosplay. All of the pieces were bought from Amazon/eBay and I just had to rough ‘em up and weather them.
Or if you’re not up to putting it together yourself, and the option is available to you, purchase your costume! I’ve purchased some costumes before (my Miranda Lawson from Mass Effect 2 for example) because it just made sense economically, and I was supporting other cosplayers/makers in the process so win-win :) There is NO SHAME in buying a cosplay, as long as you don’t try to pass it off as your own work.
Also, you would be SHOCKED the age range of people that cosplay. If you are still worried about feeling too old (which I assure you you’re not, but here is one example, but there are many many others!!!), I suggest getting a group cosplay together with either a friend or significant other. I did that for my first cosplay experience and I feel like it made it that much more enjoyable, plus I had people to fall back on if I started feeling anxious or stressed (which happened, but yolo haha).
If you don’t have anyone to cosplay with, and you’re planning on going to a con, check out if there are any photo meetups for your fandom. When I went to PAX East in 2016 I went to the Fallout meetup and met a lot of awesome people, a great range of ages and had SO much fun because … well, we all already had a common ground to stand on! I still keep in touch with a lot of those people, all because we enjoyed a stupid video game. Crazyyyyy.
I love cosplay because it’s a unique creative outlet for me, and allows me to become that character. Especially because in some way I personally relate to that character. For a day or weekends at a time when I cosplay, I’m no longer an introverted, cynical person with anxiety, but a strong, ass-kicking rebel like Jyn or a crazy, peppy time-traveling Brit like Tracer. It let’s me become these characters without that fear of being judged.
As long as YOU yourself are having fun, that’s all that matters. No matter if you slaved over the costume for 6 months or bought it with paypal, or if you’re 18 or 80, we’re all just a bunch of dweebs dressing up as our favorite characters at the end of the day :)