Costume and wardrobe assistants, supervisors and designers work in theatre, film and TV behind the scenes making the characters and therefore the overall production look as intended. This might mean setting the scene as regards the time period, social status being portrayed or expressing elements of key characters through costume.
There is no ‘one’ route into this career and often starting at the bottom will enable you to work your way up. We take a look at a selection of different costume and wardrobe roles, each requiring a different skill set.
Do you like fashion? Are you creative? Do you have a keen eye for detail? And do you have sewing skills? – If so, then a job as a wardrobe assistant might be for you.
A wardrobe assistant makes, finds and looks after (repairs and alters) clothing and costumes used in theatre, TV or films. For obvious reasons the work hours can be anti-social and involve evening and weekend work. If you are a wardrobe assistant in the theatre you may also act as a dresser, which means helping actors change in and out of costumes between scenes.
Are you a good leader? Well organised? Are you able to cope under pressure? – If so, then a job as costume supervisor or costume designer might suit you.
A costume supervisor manages a team of staff and works closely with hair and makeup departments to coordinate costumes. They also handle budgets and schedules – using scripts to review how many costumes are needed, costume changes and the organisation of all costumes and accessories for a production.
A costume designer designs, creates and acquires all costumes needed for a production or film. Working with the production designer, they define the overall look of a production. They also develop ‘costume plots’ for characters, highlighting emotional journeys of characters through the changing costumes.
To get into these job roles you could start by studying for a Level 1 Certificate or Diploma in Fashion and Textiles or a Level 2 or 3 qualifications in fashion, textiles or theatre support. You could also, if you wanted to, progress to a Degree in Fashion covering technical skills in drawing and pattern cutting.
Alternatively you could look for a Costume and Wardrobe Apprenticeship at either intermediate level, where you could gain skills as an assistant or advanced level, where you could train as a costume manager/supervisor.
To find out about other jobs in the theatre and film click here.