How to Cosplay the Mad Hatter for This Year’s Comic Con

Let me set something straight right at the top of this blog post. If you, like my mom, are of the mindset that cosplay is just, “adults playing dress up”, allow me to learn you a thing or two. First off, cosplayers design and create their costumes from scratch. While this came from the necessity that their favorite niche characters most likely don’t have a costume you can grab off the shelf at Spirit of Halloween. On top of this, if there is a costume available at a store, they are usually of terrible quality. In constructing their cosplay, they hone their craft and the cosplayer can reach whatever level of quality they want.

They need to know how different fabrics lay on the skin, stitch together, how to work plastics and metals for armor or masks, and in a lot of cases, also how correctly apply a full face of movie quality VFX makeup. So no, cosplayers are not just, “adults playing dress up” cosplayers are costume designers, make-up artists, seamstresses, and performers, who also like to play dress up.

With convention season right around the corner, cosplayers from all over the world will travel to show off their creations. What’s interesting is that no matter what convention you go to, through the droves of Marvel superheroes, one will always find an Alice in Wonderland or Looking Glass Wars cosplayer. There will be a new take on the incredible Alice in Wonderland characters wandering the convention center halls, weaving through a sea of Spider-Men, women, and children. If this does not convey the impact and staying power of Alice in Wonderland and The Looking Glass Wars, I don’t know what will.

While Alice is an obvious choice for cosplay, today I’m going to focus on another incredibly popular cosplay character from the Alice in Wonderland/Looking Glass Wars universe, the Mad Hatter.

I learned, while listening to the professional cosplayer Chad Evett’s episode of Frank Beddor’s podcast, All Things Alice, that a big portion of why someone decides to cosplay a specific character is that they either see a part of themselves in a character or see a quality of a character they want to embody. This is why the Mad Hatter/Hatter Madigan are such popular choices.

Just on the surface, the Mad Hatter is a fun and energetic character who does what he thinks is right and hides nothing. Whereas Hatter Madigan is a powerful anti-hero bodyguard, with more hidden weapons than a doomsday prepper. Guided by his one duty to find and return Princess Alyss to Wonderland. He is an unstoppable force, trekking the globe in his lonely quest. To be reductive, he’s badass.

To start us off on this cosplay inspiration guide, we have to start at what is arguably the most popular iteration of the Mad Hatter.

Tim Burton’s Hatter, famously portrayed by Johnny Depp:

Here we see Chad Evett’s cosplay of this version of Hatter—a top tier version of costume, but worry not, you too can look this cool! I think the draw with this specific character is that visually it makes an impact. The multitude of different fabrics, the bright red hair, the pale makeup reminding us that he has mercury poisoning, and of course the top hat. What I love about this cosplay is that while it’s a wonderful collage of different colors and textures, it’s actually much more attainable than one would think.


With a glue gun, a basic understanding of stitching, and an eccentric trip to the thrift store, one can find all the necessary components to make this cosplay as detailed or understated as one wants. The clothing consists of a colorful blazer (Johnny Depp wore a brown one and a blue one, and even a sweet maroon exploring jacket—so choose your favorite!), an equally as colorful patterned shirt, and an ascot or spotted bow tie.

The hat is always the hardest part to source, I found some cheap ones online but they don’t look quite right and to get them as “mad” as they need to be will take a bit of creativity. Chad’s advice is “layer layer layer” to get that really quirky vibe just right.


But, maybe you’re not a Tim Burton fan. Maybe, you want something different. Maybe, you like Hatter but wished he had a little more edgy hero quality about him. Well then, here is a Hatter cosplay that definitely will turn heads and start a conversation. The dark and mysterious Hatter Madigan from the Looking Glass Wars book series/Hatter M graphic novels. Also my personal favorite version of the Hatter.

How To Cosplay Hatter Madigan:

This Master Milliner wears the classic uniform of his trade as a royal bodyguard to Wonderland’s royalty—a long navy-blue coat, dashing body armor, hidden weaponry, and a hat that Just. Wont. Quit. I mean look at the cover for the second volume of the Hatter M. series and tell me he isn’t cool.


I’m going to break down this cosplay and give some ideas on how you could pull it off yourself. Let’s start from the top and work our way down the outfit.

The Hat:


Okay if you can find the right style hat you’re already there. But, if you want to kick it up to the next level you could add retracting blades in the rim. It’s actually quite simple. Once you source or make your (fake) blades, you make a baseplate out of plastic or foam core poster board, then drill a hole where you want the blades to pivot through the hat, baseplate, and blades. The final step is using a small bolt or pin to hold the blades into place.

Cut a Christmas bobble in half to create the signature “red eye” of Hatter’s sentient headwear. In lieu of caterpillar silk you could even use a touch of shiny fabric or metallic wrapping paper to give the shimmer of imagination to your creation – no matter what do you, just have fun with it!


The Coat/shirt/pants:

Step one, find a navy or dark trench coat. Step two, buy/barter/borrow without asking for the aforementioned navy trench coat.

As for the shirt, any dark shirt will work here, if you want to, a double vested vest will add more texture and details. Don’t be afraid to get fancy with it – while Hatter Madigan is a fighting machine, he is also a ROYAL bodyguard. Add some swank to you Hatter look like this guy who dressed to impress in Heart Palace:

And finally, a pair of navy blue trousers, with a belt (or five) will work perfectly here.

The Armor:

There is a simple way around the armor if you’re strapped for time and materials. Button up the coat. But, if you have the skills and mental fortitude, you can make it yourself. I would think going with a foam board would be the easiest way to make the armor. Carve carefully and add a little weathered paint to get that signature battle-tested Madigan style.

The Blades:

Now, again you can make a choice here, you don’t have to have any blades. The costume is basically done here. But a sense of danger will really ramp up this cosplay into high gear. Throw some blades on his belt, in the lining of the coat, have a small dagger on your ankle. If you think of a cool place to hide a blade, do it, it will only make the cosplay cooler.

For his wrist blades, one could use wrist guards or a wrist brace, and attach blades to them. Or you could adapt the hidden blade from an Assassin’s Creed costume into this one.

The Backpack:

The sky’s the limit here. It could be simple, a backpack with blades sticking out of it. Or you could go complex and build the metal arms with affixed blades that go over the shoulder and under the arms. In the photo here, the backpack looks to be the size of a camelback. Which would make a great base to build from.

The Boots:

Finally, to tie it all together, a pair of black, square-toed, cowboy boots will bring it home. If you want you can use silver paint on the stitching to make it really pop.

From complex to simple, the cosplay looks awesome no matter what because they are an extension of you. I can’t wait to see all the incredible Alice in Wonderland, Looking Glass Wars, and Hatter M cosplays this convention season. If you have an Alice in Wonderland-related cosplay that you want to show off, please send it over. Who knows, you might end up in one of these blogs!

Meet The Author:

Jared Hoffman Headshot

Jared Hoffman graduated from the American Film Institute with a degree in screenwriting. A Los Angeles native, his brand of comedy is satire stemming from the many different personalities and ego’s he has encountered throughout his life. As a lover of all things comedy, Jared is always working out new material and trying to make those around him laugh. His therapist claims this is a coping mechanism, but what does she know?

All Roads Lead to Alice

My friend and Wonderverse collaborator Chad Evett (the Top Hat of Hatters) has returned (alive!) from the land of Con and Cosplay after SDCC 2022. I asked him to pen a quick reflection of why and how Alice so invariably makes her appearance in his kingdom of costumes. True to form, his take is thoughtful and fun. Check it out:

Well, here we are: post San Diego Comic-Con 2022. Did you survive? Are you able to walk again? Did you dodge the con crud?

SDCC is, far and away, one of the greatest if not the grandest pop culture conventions on the planet, taking place every year in San Diego, CA – United States. As an international endeavor, the convention sports indoor and outdoor events, exclusive merchandise, along with a myriad of film and television announcements. Laced throughout the halls packed with comics, fans of every description, posters and costumes; there is one unifying factor: a distinct presence of everything that is currently en vogue.

Stranger Things, Star Trek, Star Wars, nearly every modern and contemporary fad is reflected. But mixed in among them, one finds a few gems from fads past: those few and faithful cosplayers that love what they love and wear it proudly for all to see. And perhaps the strangest things of all are the amount of people showing their love for a Victorian book about a curious little girl who took a tumble down a rabbit hole.

The entertainment industry is one powered by dreamers, those who are incapable of sitting still and not putting pen or brush to paper. In the first chapter of “Alice’s Adventures Underground” (later renamed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,) Alice is bored on the riverbank and takes to daydreaming to entertain herself.  It is notorious that the book was written as pure escapism, so one would naturally assume that Alice would fit in beautifully between the rows and within the halls of the San Diego Convention Center.

The Hustle and Bustle in the Halls of the Convention Center

Nat Lawson, an avid cosplayer and mother of a day dreamer (both of whome were dressed as magnificent French Tweedles) sees the Alice in us all: “I love stories about people who travel to other worlds and embrace new and wild experiences- Alice, Narnia, Oz, Inuyasha, etc.”

When asked if she thought of Alice’s moral, she described the average congoer almost accidentally, but no less accurately: “Live your life as you think you should— do the things you want to do and do not let other’s expectations shackle you into an endless loop of boring offices and minivans and warehouse stores.”

Perhaps the modern equivalent to that Victorian riverbank is indeed the boring office cubicle.

Connor Breen, another participant in the madness of the day, absolutely sees the glory of escaping the mundane: “…I feel like the reason why Alice in Wonderland continues to be so beloved; regardless of rewriting, re-creation, and rebirth of each character, is that the spirit of Wonderland is always true to what it intends to be.

Lewis Carroll created a world that has never been the same the second time you look at it. Familiar characters return in different ways for each new explorer, always there to help them in whatever way is needed regardless of if our hero or heroine knows what exactly what they needed help with in the first place.”

After a pause, Breen continued “No matter how old you are or what version you were first introduced to, every part of it feeling like returning home. Wonderland is always there for us, in that space between dreams and nightmares. It’s not always safe, but it never was dangerous either, it’s the flickering of light as you drift away, always waiting to welcome you back with a friendly smile, a hot cup of tea, and a new adventure with just the turn of a page.”

If Comic-Con is Wonderland, then each of us inhabits a part of Alice when we step onto that familiar cement floor: we explore, we renew, we indulge in a little nonsense—and most importantly, we dream.

Dreams evolve and yet defy definition—Alice’s journey through history is no less of an evolution. The story of a defiant little girl who questioned authority and the adults around her is one that parallels the ages since its publication. The cooky Mad Hatter once an exercise in lunacy has transformed, revealing a hat wielding hero underneath.

Alice absolutely would have been a suffragette—she would have marched for Stonewall, and she would have campaigned for liberty. Cosplay, functioning as a looking glass, reflects this evolution as the character has been reborn.

The League of Hatters

Frank Beddor, author of The Looking Glass Wars saw Alice (or is it Alyss?) as a character seeking to understand herself and her world through the enlightening power of Wonder and Imagination. 

Tim Burton’s Alice was a lost freedom fighter seeking to define her strength through her journey. A stylistically absurdist version of Wonderland, even by whacky and weird standards, is the perfect landscape of gothic obstacles, & became a box office success.

American McGee took a second glance at the idea of Madness, and the subjective definition. His Alice saw an asylum run by the insane and the topsy-turvy state of reality cast as an adventure game soaked with the blood of those who would force order into Whimsy.

Alice, and the denizens of Wonderland around her, have been reborn and reworked numerous times, and each time it seems to work: the subject matter is unique in its pliability of translation. 

The fans of Alice all flock to her for different reasons. For some, it’s the Disney flair & familiar characters (White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Red Queen, Alice). For others, it’s the idea that one person’s madness is another person’s sanity.

The concept of “Muchness” is introduced in chapter seven of the original book, “a mad tea party,” and is revolutionized in the 2010 Disney film as a metaphor for individuality and personal strength. Pushing back against the societal norms that suffocate the magic out of the young.

Cosplay is possibly the most flamboyant of the modern moves against society’s concept of Normalcy. Since 2010 the League of Hatters, an Alice-themed Cosplay club, has met on the first Thursday of Comic Con. Each member has drawn themselves to the group through their love of what Alice represents. (Yours truly has been lucky enough to be elected Top Hat for three consecutive terms!)

Watching fans of Alice exchange ideas and notes on costume execution and design is one of the hallmarks of a League meetup. Each year, new people see the advertisements of the meetings and join for a day of revelry.

Lorraine Oulette as The Queen of Hearts

Lorraine Oulette, a teacher from Connecticut, has brought her son and husband to league meetings every year since 2013. Her son River actually celebrated his 13th birthday with a HaberDashMitzvah—-a massive party where the entire league converged for tea, specialty cupcakes, music and dancing—all while dressed as characters from Wonderland. “The comradery is wonderful. Seeing all the hatters, queens, rabbits and Alices—it feels like family every time we meet up.”

And who does Lorraine Cosplay? “The Queen of Hearts. Naturally” she says with a wink.

Only in Wonderland.

About The Author

Chad Evett graduated from Santa Fe University of Art and design with a degree in technical theater, with an emphasis on Costumes. He has designed numerous short films, and has worked as a theater director and production designer. His work has been seen on The View, and he has designed shoes for actress Whoopi Goldberg, and Writer/Producer Bryan Fuller.  He lives in Los Angeles and works as a designer and Consulting storyteller.