So what do we mean by these? First is cheap. Cheap means for a small amount of money. If you have lots of time you can wait for sales and coupons, scour thrift stores and garage sales, and get rock-bottom prices. If you need it cheap and fast, you can always find passable knock-offs of expensive stuff. Next is time. You can either have something now, or you can have it later. If you need something now for cheap you will be making out of available, cheap, low-quality items. Think pre-made Halloween costumes and how they are only passable resemblances of movie costumes made out of tissue-thin materials. Finally is quality. Quality refers to both the quality of the materials chosen as well as their suitability to the project. For historical costumes quality also refers to the authenticity or "periodness" of the materials used. For reproduction movie, tv, and anime costumes quality can also refer to the accuracy of the materials and how closely they resemble the original costume/outfit. A quick but accurate costume is going to cost A LOT of money because there is no time to search for good bargains; top dollar must be paid for the correct materials. An accurate and cheap costume needs time to research the correct materials and then time to wait for them to go on sale, find low-price substitutes, and collect coupons.
|From http://www.unitoneatlanta.com/design-and-multimedia/fast-cheap-great, an awesome illustration of what we're talking about.
In very extreme cases you may have to pick only one correllary and forget the other two. For instance, if you want your costume NOW it will probably be both expensive and inaccurate. The cheapest costume is going to take lots of time and will also make some accuracy sacrifices. Finally, the most accurate costumes were neither quick nor cheap; lots of time was spent researching the correct materials and much money was spent to get them, even on sale correct materials can cost quite a bit of money.
Even when you are looking to buy a costume this rule holds. The seamstress you are buying your costume from must follow the rule, and you're paying for his/her time and work. So be sure to make it clear to them what you want and what is most important.