Costume Designers: More Than Just Costumes

Costume design for Gianetta - The Gondoliers

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When you think about costume designing, like most people you probably have a vision in your head of turn of the century dresses for women and the lavish costumes you see on stage and in the theater. Although this is true, there is also a more mainstream side to costume designing.

The clothes that you see characters wearing on TV and in the movies have to be chosen and put together by someone who knows fashion, and they are considered costumes. When a movie is produced the writer, director, and producer all have a vision of what the scene is supposed to look like and this includes what all the characters in the scene are wearing.

In order to put costumes or clothes together for characters you need to have an eye for fashion, and you need to be able to put the whole package together. In order to do this you may need to draw sketches to show producers what you have in mind. You also need to be able to find the clothes for the characters to wear. This could mean hitting the streets and shopping for just the right outfit.

After the clothes are chosen, a costume designer will also work with the set designers to make sure everything works together, and they will also work with the fitters and the actors to make sure everything fits properly and looks right once it is all put together.

So although costume designing can mean coming up with out of the ordinary and period clothing, it can also be a more mainstream job for a person who has a background in fashion and an eye for detail.

How to Become a Costume Designer

Designing costumes for film and theater can be a fun, exciting and rewarding career. But while you do need to have a good set of innate creative and artistic ability, you will also need to hone those skills through a formal education program. Luckily, there are good fashion design schools with costume design programs all across the country.

When you look at costume design education programs, you will find 2-year Associate degree programs, and 4-year Bachelor’s degree programs. Either will give you a good foundation and teach you the basics, but you will of course learn much more in a 4-year program. Choose what fits your needs and your budget.

When you are in school, you will learn about all aspects of costume design, including the differences of designing for film versus theater, how to work with the director and set designer, and much more. To be successful in school and in your career, you will need to have a good working knowledge of history, enjoy research, and have a thorough understanding of fabrics, sewing and fashion trends.

While you are in the later stages of your schooling, you will also want to look for good internship opportunities. This real-world experience will help you develop your abilities as a costume designer and give you an edge over the competition. To find an internship, look into school film and theater productions, and into projects with community theaters or production houses.

The job outlook for costume designers is stable, but does ebb and flow with the fortunes of the entertainment industry. To best establish yourself for a successful career, get a good education and internship under your belt.

C​ollege Majors for Costume Design

Costume design for film and theater is an exciting career choice that is becoming more popular among American college graduates. However, many people are unsure how to tailor a college education for this field. Because most colleges do not offer a major titled “Costume Design,” students mistakenly believe that those schools do not offer a major that will benefit them in their field of choice. This is not necessarily the case. There are a number of related majors that, when combined with a relevant minor field of study, will provide students with an acceptable background to enter the costume design industry, either in New York, Hollywood or even abroad.

Most state colleges and universities will offer a major field of study in art, whether it be art history, design or another similar subject. When combined with a minor or even a double major in fashion or fashion design, the student will likely emerge with an educational background conducive to even the most stringent of employment requirements. Being able to speak on the history of art and fashion within a specific era is a skill that translates automatically into expertise in costume design. The additional creative arts study within the realm of design will also help with designing costumes for a more fantastical type of project, such as swords and sorcery or even science fiction. Oddly enough, even a minor in English literature or literature of one of the romance languages will add a great flavor to a major in fashion design. Again, being able to converse intelligently about the period in question, its values, styles and ways of interacting, becomes of utmost importance to those who contact for costume design services.

While education is the primary factor, it is also a good idea to participate in the theatrical arts while completing your degree. Having your volunteer work in college productions on your resume is a huge bonus and may be the deciding factor when a project manager is choosing between you and another recent graduate.

The Job of a Costume Designer

Parisian mime working for tips entertaining crowd.
Image via Wikipedia

What is the job of a costume designer? Is it to simply dress the actor or actresses, and put some earrings and other accessories on them to complete the look?

Costume designers have the job of making sure that the actor, actress, entertainer or celebrity looks stunning, appealing and makes a lasting impression at the first glimpse. They have the knowledge of understanding the importance of incorporating appeal with color and style into their presentations. Their decisions on costume selections and presentations can do a lot to affect the industry overall.

The job of a costume designer does include the task of selecting colors, materials and accessories, but the overall job of their role is so much more involved.

1.) Depending on the role cast or the entertainer’s theme, they have to select their wardrobe that fits in with the theme. To do this, they may have to research the event to find out more information to help them decide on which way to go with the presentation. They may also have to do a bit of research to find out any history or pertinent material on what they’re trying to design a costume for. All of this makes a difference in how and what they decide to do as a result.

2.) Selecting the costumes depends also on the entertainer’s or the celebrity’s preference and style. The costume designer may have a great idea for a costume, but if it doesn’t fit the personality of the celebrity, it may not go over so well. This is often only important if the celebrity is a big name person. On other events, the costume designer gets to use their own creative judgment when it comes to using a particular design or theme.

The designer should always take these things into consideration when doing their jobs. They can help them make the right choices and help everybody shine.