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How To Make the Perfect Mario and Luigi Costume From The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Making a Mario and Luigi costume isn't as easy as it seems ... Although it's still pretty easy.
With the release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the heroic duo find themselves back in the mainstream with renewed popularity. Naturally, it makes sense for kids and adults alike to find any excuse necessary to don a Mario or Luigi costume and ride the trend at their next party, dress-up event, or to be the ultimate fan at your local movie theater.
Whether you are actual siblings, best friends, a couple, or just a solo cosplay enthusiast, Mario and Luigi have been a rock-solid and recognizable costume for Halloween, conventions, and more since they debuted in their first game in 1985 (1981 if you count Mario’s actual debut in Donkey Kong … which you should).
But all Super Mario Bros. costumes aren’t created equal. Although the ingredients are relatively simple, the degree of effort you put in as well as your attention to detail can mean the difference between getting recognized as the iconic characters or being mistaken for the worst-dressed plumber who is inexplicably at the party. Sure you can buy a pre-made costume of either brother pretty easily, but we’re here for the crafty people who want to start from scratch and really make it their own.
Luckily, we’re here to help by identifying all the details you’ll need to get a perfect Super Mario Bros. costume together.
How do you make a Mario or Luigi costume?
The basic ingredients are surprisingly simple. Start with brown boots then add blue medium to dark-wash denim overalls. If you’re going as Mario, get yourself a long-sleeve red shirt. If you’re going as Luigi, get a green one. We suggest taking a look at a photo of either character from your favorite game or the movie to get the shade right. Nothing says “swing and a miss” like a maroon Mario or a lime-green Luigi.
Complete the look with a pair of white gloves and a puffy hat with a brim that matches your shirt color exactly. Finally, add the classic “M” or “L” in a color that matches your shirt over a white, circular background on the front.
Oh, and don’t forget the mustache — real or fake doesn’t matter as long as it takes up a lot of your face. If you have a beard, we suggest going the extra mile and shaving it off. Don't worry it'll grow back faster than if you used a power-up mushroom.
It’s worth noting that some of the coloring on this can be tinkered with. We’ll get into more variants of Mario and Luigi later, but diehard fans of the series may know that in his first appearance in Donkey Kong, Mario’s overalls and shirt were switched (his hair and shoes were blue too). So, if you have some red or green overalls and a blue shirt handy, you can still make the costume work and call yourself “classic.” The hats will remain the same color, though.
It wasn’t until Super Mario Bros. 2 that their denim overall look came about (not counting the cover art). By Super Mario Bros. 3 the blue over red/green was the standard and has remained so ever since — hence why that’s the look in the Super Mario Bros. Movie.
Finer details in a Mario and Luigi costume
Anyone can throw on overalls, a long-sleeve shirt and a hat and capture the look of the Super Mario Bros. — and if fun is what you’re going for, do just that! Seriously, toss those three garments on, don’t change draft A, and enjoy a night out as Nintendo's favorite sons! The beauty of this costume is that it’s easy to recognize. However, for those who chase perfection, there are a few finer details to keep an eye out for to turn your Mario or Luigi costume up to eleven.
The first and easiest is to make sure the buttons on your overalls are brass. This is a simple detail to overlook since it’s far and away the easiest part of the costume to get. However, in every instance of Mario dating back to his 1981 debut, his and his brother’s overall buttons have been brass.
Another way to make your costumes stand out is to go with slip-on boots. Mario doesn’t have any visible laces, so not having anything in the way of that classic shoe-shine sparkle is good. Hitting all the major Mario and Luigi details up top but getting lazy and just wearing sneakers will knock you out of first place in a costume contest faster than a blue shell.
Speaking of up top, here’s where things might get tricky. To make a truly authentic Mario or Luigi costume, most of the items you have to make or purchase are pretty universal. However, their hats are pretty unique.
Some have speculated it’s a newsboy hat, which is what was worn in their live-action debut back in 1993. Although a newsboy hat won't throw off your look, it's not quite right. If you’re really looking to get in the weeds with hats (and if you’re reading this, you are and we salute you), you’re going to want to look into either a fiddler cap, a fisherman’s cap, or a baker boy hat. While the Mario Bros. hats are unique to them, these are the closest traditional hat cuts that you can shoot for to look as similar to the characters as possible.
Finally, pay close attention to the lettering. No one is going to call you out for having the wrong font for your “M” or “L.” In fact, there have been many, many fonts in the Super Mario Bros. games over the years. Like the hats, it doesn’t really conform to one specific font across all iterations. So, the best thing to do is pick an image of Mario or Luigi from your favorite game or the new animated movie and simply replicate it to the best of your ability.
Mario and Luigi costume variants
We get it, you’re no ordinary cosplayer. You have friends who will only be impressed with a deep-cut game reference, and we respect that. There are many different variants of the Super Mario Bros., specifically when they receive powerups in the many games that have come out over the years.
Want that fire flower look? Go ahead and convert your blue overalls to red or green and add a white shirt and hat. Heck, if all you want to do is invert colors, the Super Smash Bros. videogames always have a color-swapped version of both characters should a mirror match be in the cards for your and your friends. Nothing says "I'm a gamer and I cosplay as such" like a mirror-match Super Smash reference.
If you want to get even deeper into Super Mario Bros. lore for your costume (again, we love this journey for you), consider one of the other power-up variants.
The propeller mushroom power-up is just a propeller helmet with letters and a flight suit. A frog, squirrel, or cat costume paired with your Mario and Luigi gloves and mustache count as power-up variants as well. You can also get away with just a squirrel tail and ears on your regular costume and tell people you’re from Super Mario Bros. 3. A pair of red overalls over a blue penguin costume (don’t forget the bird feet) will help you mimic the penguin power-up that debuted in Super Mario Bros. Wii.
If you're Mario, get a lab coat, a head mirror, and a red tie and you've achieved a perfect Doctor Mario costume.
If you’re Luigi, strap a vacuum cleaner to your back and say you’re from Luigi’s Mansion. It’ll help to look terrified all night.
Whether you go ultra-complicated or keep it simple, it’s not hard to throw together a decent Mario or Luigi costume and it’s a lot of fun not just for you, but for whoever is lucky enough to lay eyes on you. So, get out there and get your Bowser-stompin gear on and have some fun at your next costume party or convention.