Cosplay4Everyday: Mary, Queen of Scots


I really enjoyed putting together my first Cosplay4Everyday post, and will be doing a lot more of these in the future.  The idea here is taking inspiration from your favorite characters and translating it into your everyday life– not necessarily going all out, since we all have to work and do other things where our love of costume may not be exactly practical, but still allowing ourselves the freedom to play around a bit.  My first post was about the character of Elsa from Frozen, and it was such a blast I immediately started looking for other subject matter. I didn’t have to look far– I was already stealing some of the great hair looks on display in the CW’s series Reign, a loose (and very entertaining) interpretation of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.  The show is not exactly faithful to history or to period fashion, instead creatively showcasing a modern sensibility that permeates the characters’ style of dress while remaining influenced by the clothing and hairstyles of the time.  That makes it a natural fit for this feature, so let’s play!  Hair first this time, so we can get it out of the way for the makeup work later…

Stuff You’ll Need:

  • Some means of curling your hair. Whether you prefer a curling iron, rollers, or the good old sock bun like I used, we’re gonna need some texture and volume.   If you work with sponge rollers or the sock bun (or hair donut– they make those now, but I’ve found the sock still works better), you’ll want to sleep on it overnight, but if you’re in a hurry, the iron or hot rollers are just fine.   You don’t need perfect curls, just texture.
  • A headband, the wider and more ornate the better.  I used a leaf-patterned headband I picked up on sale at Claire’s.  Metal or fabric-covered is preferable to plain plastic, especially if you have very dark hair like myself, so it stands out better and is, believe it or not, more comfortable.  I am the owner of a very large head, and plastic headbands tend to crack and snap on me.  Those stretchy headbands won’t work for this style either– they’ll get lost in your hair.  (I can’t wear them anyway– they work their way off my gargantuan occiput and fall off.)
  • A brush (duh)
  • Two small hair ties
  • Ornamentation of your choosing– whether thin ribbons, bead strings, or hair jewels. Or just improvise– I used odd earrings.  Whatever you use is up to you.  Or you can skip this altogether for a more low-key look.
  • Hairspray

Got your doodads together?  Okay, let’s work.

  1. First things first– get that hair curled.  Put a few curling iron twists all over your head, or use hot rollers, or take your sponge rollers out, or just remove your sock.  Once you’ve got your curls, mist them with a little hairspray and let that dry before you gently brush them out.  It doesn’t matter if they still look like curls when you’re done– you just want some bounce.
  2. You should have a nice messy fluffy head of hair now.  Get your part straight– center is best, but the look still works if your natural part is offsides.  Your hair around the part should look smooth and controlled as opposed to rest of your hair.
  3. Place your headband.  Placement is a bit tricky but easy.  You want a good inch or two of your part showing in front, and you don’t want to pull ALL of your hair back in it– you need to leave two good-sized strands in front of the band on either side.  The strand right in front of each of your ears is perfect.  Once the band is on, push it just a hair forward to volumize the front just a bit.
  4. Now comes the fun part.  Each of those strands of hair in front of your ears is going to become a different type of braid.  It doesn’t matter which goes on which side, but we’ll do the regular braid first.  If you’re working with ribbon or bead strands, this is the braid you’ll want to weave them into.  Just take the strand and make it a skinny little braid all the way down to the end of the hair, and secure it with one of the itsy-bitsy hair ties.  If your ties are too big or won’t stay on, you can tie off with a little thread in close to your natural color.
  5. The other strand is about to become a unicorn braid.  If you know how to do this already, great.  If you don’t, a quick primer:  divide the strand in half, and twist both strands tight clockwise.  Then start at the top and twist them together counterclockwise.  Secure at the end.
  6. If you’re using hair jewels or earrings like I did, stick them in the regular braid randomly.  If you’re feeling extra dressy, you can add them to the unicorn braid too, but that braid won’t hold earrings in particularly well and might make it fall apart.
  7. Mist with a touch of hairspray and voila!

All righty then, now we get to play in some makeup.  Unlike Elsa’s cool pink and violet palette, Mary’s look relies on warm earth tones.  Browns make me look really pale, but sometimes I like that.

Stuff You’ll Need:

  • Eyeshadow in a trio of warm browns.  Whether you use shimmer or matte is up to you;  I prefer shimmer because it makes my eyes stand out more (I wear glasses, as you may have noticed) and carries the added bonus of disguising any stray eyebrow hairs you missed or just didn’t bother with (I have eyebrow game, so I don’t mess with them).  I mentioned in my Elsa post that I don’t do pricey makeup.  I picked up a new quad at Wally World by Hard Candy which I’m loving at the moment.  It’s a Mod Quad called Under the Moon and it’s extremely versatile.  It contains a gorgeous cool violet (not used here), a warm chocolate, a pinky beige, and a rich cream color.  Therefore, you can do a warm or a cool look with it, depending on which shadows you use.  All are shimmer, and the shadow is baked, which means you can use it wet, which we’re going to do.
  • Crayon and/or liquid eyeliner, in black.  I skipped the liquid this time around;  I’ve seen it in use on Reign, but with wet shadow, I consider it a little bit TOO intense.  So I stuck with my trusty Rimmel crayon in Steel.
  • Brown brow pencil or brow powder (I used an eyeshadow– an ancient free sample of Maquiriche from Lancome called Sable, a dark matte brown).
  • Mascara of your choice, but always black, please.  I’m getting a lot of mileage out of my New York Color Instant Lash.
  • Your favorite foundation.  No need to go super warm if you’re pale like me;  you’ll just look like a clown.  Use what works for you.  I’m a Hard Candy girl myself;  I use the Just Face It foundation in Ultra Light, which pulls triple duty as concealer AND powder, leaving a shine-free finish without looking pancake-y.  Seriously, I love this stuff.
  • A peach-toned blush.  As always, I used a lipstick, in this case an Estee Lauder shade called Frosted Apricot (also as always, lipstick is my splurge item).  This is just me; use real blush if you prefer it.
  • A matte lipstick in an unobtrusive color close to that of your natural lips.  I used another Estee Lauder lipstick called Heathermist Pink.
  • A contouring agent.  You can use bronzer or a product made for contouring, but I improvised (again!) and used an eyeshadow of sorts.  I don’t know if they still make it;  I picked it up at the Dolla Holla Tree, so it may be a discontinued item, but it comes in a tube with a rollerball, and it’s called Roller Color by Maybelline, in a color called Twirling Taupe. I’ve had it for some time, and it works great  as a contouring powder; that’s what I mainly use it for, rather than its intended purpose as an eyeshadow.

Now that we have all our toys together, let’s play the makeup game.

  1. Go ahead and apply your foundation as you normally do.  Remember to prime your eyelids.  This is a step people often skip, but trust me when I say it helps your color go on easier and stay put longer.  No need for a fancy product just for priming;  your foundation will do.
  2. Apply your blush sparingly and blend.  Mary’s look is fresh, not overdone, so keep it light.  Concentrate on the apples of the cheeks rather than the cheekbones for a more natural glow.
  3. Contour beneath your cheekbones and on the sides of your nose.  Blend well.
  4. On to the eyes!  If you’ve never worked with wet shadows (I’m a relative newbie myself), be warned that they go on super bright.  This is also the only instance in which I’m going to tell you it’s okay to use the little sponge-tip applicators that makeup companies, no matter how high-end, always saddle you with.  Get yourself a little puddle of water for dipping your brush in (just like watercolors when we were kids!  Yay!).  You can use a dish, or a lid, or even close up your sink and use it.  Dip in and shake off the excess (I pat the brush on the back of my hand or my wrist), then dig into your chocolate color.  Use just the edge of the brush for now.  Then apply to your upper lid as you would a liner– just right up against the lash line.  You can wing it out very subtly if you’re comfortable with that and have a steady hand.  Next, using a different brush pad (or the other end, if it’s double-sided), wet the brush and go for your beige tone.  This is your main lid color, so coat your whole lid (it’s okay if you get some in the crease, we’re going to blend in a minute anyway).  Now, using your original brush pad, re-wet and go back to your chocolate.  This is for your crease.  Just like working with dry color, you want to gently push it into the crease with a windshield-wiper motion, but since it’s wet, use a slightly lighter hand so you don’t overdo it and look like you have a black eye.  Finally, break out yet another brush pad (very important this time not to reuse), wet, and dip into your cream color.  Apply this over the whole area between your brow and your crease.  If your original chocolate line is looking muddy after applying the lid color, you can go back over it.  Blend everything (except the chocolate against the lash line) with a dry, regular brush with soft bristles.
  5. Apply your eyeliner.  Be as free as you want to with it.  On the show Mary and her various ladies-in-waiting often utilize kohl, which can be quite a dramatic look, so don’t feel like you have to skimp.  Do both the under-eye line and the wet line, and if you want to supplement your shadow liner, go for it;  a subtle wing is okay here too.
  6. Mascara.  Once again, feel free to be bold.  Go for two coats or even three, remembering to comb your lashes between each coat to eliminate “crummies”.
  7. Pencil or powder in your brows.  If you’ve got game, you can even skip this step, but I did it anyway just for a more polished look.
  8. Finally, add your lipstick.  Since we have dramatic eyes, you should go lightly.  Mary’s lip color is usually very natural-looking, so a shade close to your real lips is a must, and a shimmer shade will look too fake.  Blot thoroughly, as you really want your color to be more of a stain than a veneer.

Bam!  All finished:


(Yes, that’s a scar under my left eye.  I get enough sleep, thanks).

A better look at the headband (and my premature grays), since it wasn’t really visible in that pic (apologies for the crappy lighting in my computer room):


Your wardrobe pieces should have a kind of medieval flair.  It looks like I’m wearing a shawl in the first photo,  and a shawl is totes perfect, but it’s really a blouse worn over a tee. Bell sleeves are good, as is embroidery;  anything that looks like you’d wear it to a Renn Faire, really.  As for accessories, a big necklace or big earrings (but not both) will work great, as long as they have an Old-World look (like the Celtic knot necklace from the first photo, which would have admittedly looked better with a scoop-necked shirt.)

There are a ton of variations you can work with this look– the only necessary constants are the headband and earthy eyes.  You can channel any of Mary’s ladies with simple tweaks.


Lady Kenna

Kenna’s look is similar to Mary’s, but think boho instead of regal.  You can leave your hair straight, so that’s a bit of a break, and go crazy with the gypsy accessories.  A pinker tone for the lipstick and blush will work well, and instead of contouring go for highlighting.  For wardrobe, your keywords should be “Renaissance Hippie,” and just go from there– anything gauzy, flowing and summery will look wonderful here.  Other than Mary’s queenly style, Kenna’s more playful one is my favorite.

Lady Lola

Lady Lola

To steal Lola’s style, you’ll want to keep those curls instead of brushing them out, and work with dry eyeshadows rather than wet to keep the makeup look unfussy;  you can skip eyeliner altogether.  Use your headband to push those curls forward, front and center!  Go bold with the brows, and choose more of a berry tone for the lips;  Lola’s palette is a little cooler, but still earthy. Clothing can be a richer fabric, like linen or crepe, and the accessories can be more luxe, as well;  Lola’s keyword is “Quality.”

Lady Greer

Lady Greer

While Greer has been known to rock the headbands, it’s not her go-to style; she usually wears simple twists in the front, with or without the band.  Just curl the ends of your hair here.  Keep the contouring, and you can go for more color on the eyes, possibly adding a little green or gold if you wish.  Greer’s look is a little more in-your-face ostentatious wardrobe and accessory-wise, so feel free to break out your metallics and beading or sequins and wear all the jewelry you want.  Greer’s keyword is “Glam.”


Lady Aylee

The late, lamented Aylee always brought her braid game.  Look up tutorials for crazy intricate braids on Pinterest (I have some good tutorials on my”Hair-Raising” Pinterest board) if you want to copycat her wild ‘do’s.  Her keyword was “Romantic”, and choices in lace, feminine trims like ruffles or lacing, and small, demure accessories bring out her style.  Her makeup was the most fresh-faced of the group, so keep the blush very light and skip the eyeliner, and as with Lola, work with dry eye colors rather than wet.  You can opt for a tinted lip balm rather than a lipstick.  She was ultra-girly– almost little-girly– and revealing clothes or vampy lips or eyes would be out of place here.

So there you have it– an incredibly versatile base look that can be styled in a variety of ways.  A little something to inspire you to bring your love of costume into your daily routine without raising a plebeian eyebrow.  Hope you enjoyed it and have fun with it!  If you’d like to see my interpretation of any other characters from any of your other favorite nerdy TV shows and  movies, feel free to ask me in the comments– I’m always looking for new styles to try.








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