Wow, this is a really interesting thread. You guys are awesome.
I've been getting discouraged by traditional anime cosplay because many people seem like such...snobs, for lack of a better term. Either you slave and slave and slave to make something EXACTLY (EX-ACT-LY) like what appears on screen or else you're a pitiful noob deserving only scorn. Please.
Whereas a 'freeform' costume based on the standards of your own imagination but also inspired by things you like (and I DO like anime) seems like a much mentally healthier endeavor.
I love steampunk stuff--particularly Steamboy, Last Exile, Dark Cloud 2, Arcanum, Castle in the Sky etc.--and have been thinking and sketching out a 'steampunk librarian' costume. It seems like the perfect thing for me since I work as a librarian at an engineering library. I have a sketch which I'll scan at some point but here's the idea for now:
1.) Black silk pants, saddle shoes/wingtips (maybe spats, if I can find them)
2.) White linen shirt, black vest
3.) Maybe some kind of fingerless victorian gloves
4.) Single enormous 'grimoire'-style book belted shut and worn on straps like a backpack; presumably with cool occult and/or steampunk emblems on the outside (I could get a spare bicycle chainring, paint it black or copper or rust it up or something and fasten it to the cover)
5.) Belt with multiple hanging 'bandolier' pockets of many small books (size of a paperback but hardcover, covered with black cloth or fake leather--like those moleskine notebooks they sell only thicker) and/or rolled scrolls all the way around my waist
6.) Maybe more such small hanging books on the vest or around my chest on a bandolier
7.) I already wear fairly distinctive, narrow rectangular glasses; I could easily get all my old pairs and 'stack' them up my forehead
Sound interesting? All I really need is a place to get a good 18th- or 19th-century style white shirt. I'm thinking like the one Balthar wears in FF12? I do NOT have the time and patience to learn to be a shirtwaist-maker.
That which does not kill me had better be able to run.