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6 Things Your Costume Designer Wants You To Know

Contributed by Carmel Suchard

1. It’s totally fine to inform me if there’s a problem with your costume.

I’m here to help you tell the story of the show as best as you can. That can’t happen if your shoes are too small, your pants too big, or if you keep tripping on your skirt’s hem. I’m happy to resolve any issues, but you have to communicate with me.

2. At the same time, don’t be a diva.

Your costume might not fit your personal style, but it does fit the overall look of the show. Despite what you might think, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the way you’ll look on stage. So if you’re playing a poor farmer, please don’t come to me complaining that you don’t look “cute” enough. Also, I don’t have control over everything. Many details come from the director’s concept, so if you have an issue you’ll have to take it up with him or her.

3. I don’t care what your body looks like.

You were cast in this play because the director thought that you were the best actor for the job. Period. Besides, I’ve seen it all. So there is no need to be embarrassed about your weight, height, stretch marks, acne, etc.

4. Your underclothes really do matter.

If I ask you to wear a certain kind of underwear/bra/dance belt it’s because your costume won’t look right if you don’t. If I ask you to bring said underwear/bra/dance belt to a fitting, please do. I need to know exactly how you’re going to look on stage. Same goes for shoes.

5. It’s worth your time to be nice to me.

First of all, I’m an industry professional. The same industry that you’re trying to break into. I know a lot of other costume designers, actors, and directors, and if you’re rude your name will come up. And you really can’t afford to burn bridges. Secondly, I have the power to make you look bad on stage. So be nice.

6. You need to know that costumes take a really long time to make.

I had to buy a pattern, choose fabrics, cut out the pattern pieces, sew them together, alter them to your body … you see where this is going. The process takes a lot of time and effort. Even if I bought or reused old costumes, choosing them took many, many hours. So please treat them with respect. Every time an actor throws a costume on the floor, eats in costume, or gets makeup on a costume, a designer’s soul dies a little bit.

Are you a costume designer? What else would you like actors to know? Leave a reply below…

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