Theatrical Costume Designer and Maker

Leisure and Entertainment 

Menu

Costume Trainee

Related Jobs or Working with these Jobs

 

 

Practical CreativeSkill Level 1Skill Level 2
Skill Level 3Skill Level 4Skill Level 5

Theatrical costume makers and designers undertake or coordinate the design, manufacture and purchase of costumes for performing arts, television, film and stage productions.Decline

ANZSCO ID: 393213

Alternative names: Costume Designer, Wardrobe Manager, Wardrobe Coordinator,

Specialisations: Performing Arts, Television, Film and Stage productions.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

  • knowledge of fashion and historical or culturally specific costuming
  • skills in pattern making and sewing
  • able to work independently or as part of a team
  • creativity
  • able to work under pressure
  • good communication skills.

 

Theatrical Mask

Duties and Tasks

Theatrical costume makers and designers may perform the following tasks:

  • talk with directors about the types of costumes to be worn in a production
  • estimate costs involved in supplying costumes and accessories such as hats, shoes and jewellery
  • prepare material and labour budgets for supplying costumes for each production
  • take actors' measurements and coordinate garment, wig, hat and shoe fittings
  • buy or hire costumes, or arrange to have them made
  • undertake or supervise the making, alteration and repair of costumes
  • make running repairs and alterations to costumes during the production
  • ensure costumes are properly stored and cared for.

Vintage Dress

Working conditions

Theatrical costume makers and designers work as part of a production team and may be required to work long or irregular hours. Many performing arts productions and film shoots take place on evenings and weekends. You could work in a film or TV studio, a theatre, from an office or from home.
  
Competition in this industry is very strong, and employment is often on a project or contract basis. They generally begin their careers as wardrobe assistants.

Education and training/entrance requirements

You can work as a costume designer without formal qualifications. Most of your training would be on the job, starting as a design assistant or wardrobe assistant and learning from experienced designers. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification in costume for performance, or in a related area such as fashion design.

Alternatively, you can complete a degree in fashion design. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent with English. Competition for entry to these degree courses is very strong. Your prospects of gaining a place may be improved if you can demonstrate experience, including volunteer experience.

A number of private providers also run introductory courses in costume design, which may help you to decide if it is a career option for you.


Employment Opportunities

Job opportunities for costume designers are expected to remain relatively neutral.

Costume design is a small industry which is dependent on the funding available for theatre, television or film productions.

Space outfit

 

 

Costume Trainee
Leisure and Entertainment

Practical or MechanicalClerical or OrganisingArtistic or Creative
Skill Level 1Skill Level 2Skill Level 3

Costume assistants/trainees are among the beginner positions in the costume department, primarily assisting with handling wardrobe fittings and supervising the continuity of the characters’ clothing from scene to scene.

Additionally, during pre-production, he or she may be assigned a piece of the script to break down and analyze, figuring out the design of each character’s clothes based on their situation in the story, tone, setting, and time period. FutureGrowthModerate

On that front, the costume assistant may work alongside their direct supervisor, the costume designer, in researching certain fashion history and trends. This can include creating sketches and mood boards, all while making sure every thread matches up with the vision of the costume designer, production designer, and, ultimately, the director.

The job of a costume assistant is not fixed, however, and can vary from production to production and is largely dependent on what the costume designer needs. They may be hands-on when it comes to designing, assembling, maintaining, and/or shopping for the clothes that are needed for the shoot. Many costume assistants spend their days scouring second-hand and thrift stores for the right items, while others may be in charge of helping actors change into different outfits or making quick alterations between takes. Others might spend their day ironing, steaming, or creating wear-and-tear to certain clothing and accessories.

Did You Know?

Whitney Oppenheimer

“I would break my job down into about five different activities,” says Whitney Oppenheimer, the costume shop assistant for the Center Theatre Group and steadily-working wardrobe assistant and assistant costume designer for TV series, short films, commercials, and music videos.

“I do the craftwork...so any accessories—hats, shoes—that need any work done on them, I do that.

I’ll do the dyeing that goes along with that...and any of the fabric treatment that needs to happen.

[I] also handle all the restocking and organizing [and]

if the design team needs me to go out and shop for items, I handle that as well [and] any returns that happen when we’ve established the whole show and the costumes.”

Costume Assistant (Center Theatre Group)
https://youtu.be/My2AKRcoxxA


ANZSCO ID: 393299
  

Alternative names: Theatrical Wardrobe Assistant, Costume Assistant, Wardrobe Trainee, Design Assistant, Workroom Trainee for Costume, Costume Shop Assistant,

Specialisations: Performing Arts, Television, Film and Stage productions
  

Knowledge, skills and attributes

It goes without saying, but a good costume assistant should be a wiz when it comes to all things sewing, needling, ironing, steaming, pattern making, and clothing alterations, as well as film production and how a costume department functions. He or she should be highly-skilled when it comes to drawing, color and design, and textiles, while also possessing a deep knowledge of the history of fashion, period costumes, and all sorts of costume accessories.

Outside of the threads, being a thorough and dedicated researcher and someone who handles high-pressure situations well, is able to multitask and solve problems quickly, and can meet deadlines is essential. A large portion of the job is communicating, so interpersonal skills are also key. While no formal education is usually required for the job, anybody with an undergraduate and/or graduate degree in any area relating to it (design, fashion, film production) is at an advantage. However, hands-on experience and having a strong, substantial costume portfolio is what those in the industry like to see.

  • Time management
  • Drawing ability
  • Sewing: measure, cut fabrics, sew by hand and with a sewing machine
  • Costume history: know period costume and contemporary fashion, be able to research using books, museums, the internet
  • Watching film and TV drama: have a passion for the genre and a love of the industry
  • Learning by watching and asking: be able to observe what’s happening and ask questions at the appropriate moments
  • Reliability: get to set on time and do what’s asked
  • Communication: put actors at their ease while in fittings or on set, listen to and explain to crew members

Costume trainee, Julie McCausland
https://youtu.be/4hB0TK8MyGw

 


Duties and Tasks

Costume trainees are at the ready with a needle, a cup of tea, an iron and a notepad. Their tasks vary depending on the scale of the production. They might carry out research for the costume designer or work with a costume assistant to detail requirements, photograph garments and note changes in the continuity book.

They are likely to help with setting up workrooms, ordering supplies and may help with pattern cutting or the ageing and distressing of costumes. They may be given specific responsibility for crowd fittings or packing costumes for overseas shipment to other locations or units.

During the shoot, they make sure the outfits are ready for the actors and help the standbys by making simple alternations. Or they might be asked to collect garments and supplies, clean and iron them or do returns for the designer.

  • do the craftwork...so any accessories—hats, shoes—that need any work done on them
  • do the dyeing that goes along with that...and any of the fabric treatment that needs to happen
  • handle all the restocking and organising
  • shop for items that the design team needs

 

Working conditions

Costume trainees work with the whole costume team, including costume assistants on set, on costume trucks or at base. They might also be working with actors in crowd scenes.

Crew Hierarchy
  

The costume assistant is generally the first role an individual holds when pursuing a career in the costume department. They report directly to the costume designer, however, much like a PA, they’re supervised by just about everybody around them (assistant costume designers, wardrobe supervisors, etc). Depending on the size of the production, a costume department may only consist of a costume designer and an assistant, meaning the latter’s responsibilities increase exponentially.


Tools and technologies

You will need some basic kit when you start working on a film set:

  • Bum bag or small across body bag
  • Needles
  • Black and white is a good start
  • Pins and safety pins
  • Tape measure
  • Small scissors
  • Sharpie
  • Notepad and pen
  • Teams often communicate by WhatsApp
  • Camera with digital card or phone with a good camera
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Walking boots or wellies
  • Thermal clothes and lots of layers


Costume Trainee
(Source: Backstage)

Education and training/entrance requirements

Start by becoming a skilled garment maker. If you can cut fabric and sew, you will have something to offer the costume team. Once you’ve developed your skills, you need to get experience, make contacts and find your way into the industry. This will help you make the contacts and build up the industry knowledge to get work in the art department of a film or TV drama.

You can work as a costume designer trainee without formal qualifications. Most of your training would be on the job, starting as a design assistant or wardrobe assistant and learning from experienced designers. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. You may like to consider a VET qualification in costume for performance, or in a related area such as fashion design.

Alternatively, you can complete a degree in fashion design. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent with English. Competition for entry to these degree courses is very strong. Your prospects of gaining a place may be improved if you can demonstrate experience, including volunteer experience.

Get an apprenticeship:
  

An apprenticeship is a job with training, so it’s a great opportunity to earn as you learn. In the past, it has been challenging to find jobs as an apprentice within production companies, although there is now a Costume performance technician apprenticeship standard specifically designed for people working in theatre or film and TV. It might be worth looking for a job as an apprentice in an industry that uses similar skills, such as being a tailor for a clothing designer or tailoring company. Try to hone your skills through an apprenticeship in fashion and textiles or costume and wardrobe. You can then transfer into television at a later point so long as you create a portfolio, keep up your interest and develop your contacts

Get experience:
  

Volunteer to do the costumes for student films or amateur theatre productions.

Build a portfolio:
  

This is essential. Go to Build your costume portfolio for specific advice on ways of impressing admissions tutors and costume designers.

Work at a costume rental firm:
  

This will help you to learn how to handle costumes and make contacts in the industry. You will also have to make repairs.

Network online:
  

Create a LinkedIn profile. See if there’s a Facebook page or other social media group for people making films or videos in your area. Join it. Create a ScreenSkills profile.

 

theatrical costume maker and designer

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

Musician

Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

pyrotechnician

Snowsport Instructor

Raceday Officer

Voice over artist

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

Musician

Umpire/Referee

Composer

Jockey

Actor

Choreographer

Music Director

Stunt Performer

Entertainer

theatrical costume maker and designer

Diver

Set Designer

Sports Development Officer

Horse Riding Instructor

Stage Manager

Cinema or Theatre Manager

Prop & Scenery Maker

Outdoor Adventure Guide

Tennis Coach

pyrotechnician

Snowsport Instructor

Race Day Officer

Voice over artist

Artist

Aerobics Instructor

Dancer

Fitness Instructor

Sports Coach

Karate Instructor

Fisher

Sportsperson

Musician